Launchpad for Australia’s app economy

Google Play helps developers grow and boost their reach

The digital economy relies on speed and scale – a fact that app developers know better than anyone. To turn a clever idea into a global success story, developers need to reach a large audience quickly.

Take Canva, the world-renowned graphic design platform. Founded by a trio of Australians just over 10 years ago, the company now boasts more than 100 million app downloads and has gained accolades such as Google Play’s “Best for Tablets” app in markets as far as Canada and India.

BrainTrack, a free mobile app developed by Dementia Australia that helps users monitor their brain health, is also on track to multiply its reach. With more than 40,000 downloads in little over a year, the app’s user base has rapidly expanded across borders, including to Singapore – a market thousands of kilometres away with a growing ageing population.

App platforms help developers grow

How did they gain such traction so rapidly? Answer: they had some help along the way. Through specific features and tools found on modern app distribution platforms, developers have been able to promote their services easily. Developers use these platforms which are catered for mobile devices in order to be seen, engage users, and sell. At the same time, consumers flock to these marketplaces that they trust, helping developers grow their user base.

Google Play, for example, gives app developers of all sizes instant exposure to billions of Android devices worldwide. Google also offers various tools to help developers kickstart and build a successful business, including its light-weight, open AI model Gemma and AI-powered coding companion Studio Bot. Developers can beta-test their apps, customise their performance, optimise their app store listings and use data analytics to grow. The platform also makes it easy for developers to differentiate audiences by device – and create custom experiences for people using smartphones, wearables, foldables, tablets and even PCs.

Much of Canva’s success and BrainTrack’s fast uptake, both locally and overseas, comes from Google Play’s services and features, as well as its role as a hub for a large selection of apps. Adventure game developers like Yak & Co lean on it just as much as social startups like the recipe-sharing platform ReciMe. Their success fuels Australia’s app economy.

Australia has a vibrant developer ecosystem

Apps help to entertain and improve the lives of millions of Australians who own a smartphone or digital device. These apps rely on developers and businesses to innovate and run them, all of whom are part of Australia’s vibrant app ecosystem, and form a significant creative and innovative community in Australia.

The app ecosystem around Google Play and Android alone is estimated to support more than 55,000 direct jobs, and another 110,000 indirect and spillover jobs across Australia.[1] That’s more than half the workforce of the entire agriculture industry’s workforce.

Developers also get the opportunity to grow their business by engaging with international users through the platform. It’s estimated that Australia-based developers earned around AUD 2.4 billion in 2023 with the help of Google Play’s global reach.[2]

Today, around 12,200 Australia-based app developers are active on Play Store, creating more than 29,000 apps for Android users across the world.[3]

Australian exports receive a boost from Google Play

The economic impact doesn’t stop at Australia’s shores. Digital trade makes up 12% of Australia’s total trade in Asia Pacific, and the app economy is an important driver.[4] Australia’s services exports get a boost every time a person abroad downloads an app made down under.

Around one billion active devices overseas are using Google Play-distributed apps made by Australian developers, most of which are also downloadable from other platforms as well.[5] Consumers in Brazil, India, and the US take up the largest share of this – showcasing Australia’s ability to capture the tastes of users from diverse regions.

Out of the total revenue Australian developers earned through Google Play, around AUD 2.1 billion came from overseas users.[6]

Supporting developers on app development essentials

Being compatible across devices is another developer concern when publishing their apps. To support manufacturers to build Android-compatible devices, Google provides access to Android’s source code for free. The company also publishes a set of baseline compatibility standards to help device manufacturers that want to ensure their products can work within the Android ecosystem. Developers benefit from this synchronisation and fine-tuning as they can focus on innovating their apps without the hassle of having to adjust software to fit different operating systems.

Google Play Protect plays an active role in protecting its billions of users and developers who download or create apps beyond the Google Play platform. It screens more than 125 billion apps daily for malware to keep the platform and devices safe. Google also preempts potential threats with the help of machine-learning tools to identify harmful code or conduct.

Technology to empower

App platforms charge for their service to support investments that go toward helping developers grow, safeguard their apps and expand their reach. On Google Play, only developers who charge for their app or offer digital goods through Play-distributed apps are subject to a service fee, which represents only 3% of developers. This means that 97% of developers globally distribute their apps and utilise all of Google Play’s developer tools and services at no cost.

Like Canva and BrainTrack, a developer’s success ultimately depends on the creativity and business acumen of its makers – entrepreneurs who must understand how to appeal to their users. But with the help of technologies easily available on the various app distribution platforms, developers also receive a boost to support their efforts.

Important information:
This post has been prepared by Access Partnership for Google. All information in this report is derived or estimated by Access Partnership analysis using both non-Google proprietary and publicly available information. Google has not supplied any additional data, nor does it endorse any estimates made in this post. Where information has been obtained from third-party sources and proprietary research or from Access Partnership’s own modelling, this is clearly referenced in the footnotes.

 

[1] Access Partnership estimates.
[2] Access Partnership estimates.
[3] Access Partnership estimates.
[4] Access Partnership estimates.
[5] Access Partnership estimates.
[6] Access Partnership estimates.

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