The Top Android Apps of 2013

The top Android apps of 2013 have been put together by Google Play users, with more than one million votes cast in the first annual Players’ Choice: Top Google Play Apps and Games poll. There were several unique categories in these user-submitted picks, included Old School Still Cool, Best Game Based on a Movie, and even a write-in category, where players took the time to write and tell Google Play about their favorite app.

Revenue increasing

According to a recent report from Distimo, an app analytics company, 2013 was a particularly good year for mobile and for Android in particular. Here are some of the most pertinent statistics from the report:

  • During 2013, Google Play’s revenue share has been growing at Apple’s expense. In November 2013, the Apple App Store was still leading though with 63 percent relative to 37 percent for Google Play.
  • The top 10 countries in terms of mobile app revenue from the Apple App Store and Google Play are: United States, Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom, China, Australia, Germany, Canada, France, Russia
  • For some apps, the download volumes from the Amazon Appstore started to compete with download volumes in established app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play.
  • None of newly released apps of 2013 reached a top 10 position in the yearly grossing charts in the Apple App Store. In contrast, four out of the top 10 grossing apps on Google Play were released in 2013.

In terms of greatest revenue growth, Distimo reports that Asian countries are by far leading the way as far as sheer money spent on apps. A recent report from search engine Baidu confirms this, especially in terms of Android apps:

  • There are now over 270 million active daily Android users in China
  • This reflects a 13% overall growth in Q3 2013, as compared to a 55% growth rate in the same quarter a  year ago
  • Most Android device sales (52%) come from users upgrading to new Android phones; 48% are users purchasing a smartphone for the very first time
  • A large part of Android growth (45%) is focused in rural areas and small cities
  • Android owners spend upwards of 150 minutes a day on their smartphones (this is an increase of 26 minutes from the previous year), checking their devices an average of 53 times a day)
  • 44% of Android users in China use Wi-Fi for their access to the Internet, especially for video. 31% get their information from 2G networks, and 23% use 3G.
  • App downloads for Chinese Android device owners are growing exponentially: the average user downloaded 10.5 apps per month in Q3 2013; the previous year, it was 8.2 apps monthly
  • 15% of Android users in China install at least one new app a day vs. 11% in Q3 2012
  • 59%  use app stores to download their apps, while 13% use online app searches and 21% use their PCs to sideload apps onto their Android devices

More revenue within the Google Play store came from freemium apps with in-app purchases in 2013; from 89% to 98%, according to the Distimo report.  The freemium, or “free to play” monetization model, seems to be becoming overwhelmingly successful for most developers, with in-app purchases and level-up opportunities monetizing quite well. One good example of this is a very popular game from the popular TV show “The Simpsons”:

“The Simpsons: Tapped Out is what's known in the gaming industry as a "free to play" game—it doesn't cost anything to play, but if you won't be able to complete every level or collect every item without shelling out real-world currency. Some people are capable of resisting the temptation to pay for exclusive items or boosts or whatever's being sold, but it's not uncommon for players who get seriously hooked to end up investing hundreds or thousands of dollars in an ostensibly free game.” – “The Devious Psychology Behind Free to Play Video Games”,

Popular Android games

Here is the list of games as voted on by Google Play users:

  • Knights and Dragons; voted as the Most Addictive Game of 2013; Knights & Dragons is a non-stop action RPG with endless battles against mythical creatures and knights in one massive action-packed adventure.
  • Bejeweled Blitz, voted as the Best Franchise Game of 2013; “Play for free on your Android as you match and detonate as many gems as you can in 60 action-packed seconds and compete with Facebook friends. Match 3 or more and create cascades of fun with Flame gems, Star gems, and Hypercubes. Add up to three Boosts at a time plus powerful Rare Gems to send your score soaring, and dominate the weekly leaderboards!”
  • The Hobbit; voted as Best Game Based on a Movie for 2013; “Gandalf, Bilbo, Thorin and thousands of players require your help to pacify the Goblin threat in the new combat strategy game from Kabam. Play as an Elf or a Dwarf, build up your city, and destroy the Goblins. But remember - the rift between Elves and Dwarves runs deep!”
  • Duolingo, voted as Best App for Enhancing the Everyday; Learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and English. Totally fun and 100% free.
  • Movies by Flixster, voted as Best App for Booking and Buying; you can buy tickets, watch movie trailers, even full-length movies on your Android device.
  • YouTube, voted as Best Google App; simple and easy, you can watch videos, connect with other people, and discover content you wouldn’t have otherwise. YouTube just seems to keep getting better after a couple of rough years.

Several apps were written in for inclusion by Google Play users, including Ingress, samurai Siege, NewsHog, and SwiftKey Keyboard.  

As you can see from this list, there are several niche apps here that are doing especially well, and developers are building more and more apps to meet the increasing demand. While app stores don’t always offer the most intuitive search platforms on which to be found, and the landscape is always going to be competitive, the good news is that consumers want more apps, and smart developers will be able to meet this need. The goal of Google Play is threefold: help users find what they’re looking for, help Android ship more apps, and help developers build their brands. Google Play wants developers to succeed at what they do, and they’ve given you the tools to make it happen. For more information on developing for Android, go to the Intel® Android Developer Zone.






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