A new report by research firm IDC and analytics company App Annie undermines that with its claim that Google Play generated more spending on games in the second quarter of this year than Nintendo and Sony's gaming handhelds combined.
The report – Worldwide Portable Game Consumer Spending – also claims that game spending on iOS and Android combined was four times the amount spent on games for 3DS, DS/DSi, PS Vita and PSP games during the three-month period.
Note: these figures only cover the Google Play store for Android, so do not include games sold through Amazon's Appstore or the growing number of independent Android app stores in countries like China.
A big surprise? Not if you've been following the financial results of games publishers like Electronic Arts. In the same quarter, EA sold $12m of games for Sony handhelds and $9m for Nintendo handhelds – $21m combined, versus $113m from mobile phones and tablets.
IDC and App Annie's report notes that games accounted for more than 30% of app downloads and more than 70% of app revenues on iOS' App Store and Android's Google Play in the second quarter, and adds that the latter's games revenues continue to be dominated by sales in Japan and South Korea.
Data from elsewhere indicates that Google Play is growing fast. Another analytics firm, Distimo, estimated recently that Google Play app revenues had grown 67% in the six months between February and June 2013, compared to 15% for iOS app revenues.
An earlier report by App Annie claimed that in the second quarter of 2013, Google Play generated 10% more app downloads than the App Store, but that Apple's store made 2.3 times the revenues than Google's.
Yet another analytics firm, Flurry – there is something of a battle among these companies to see who can release the most useful data – said this month that it is tracking 576m active Android smartphones and tablets, and 397m active iOS devices.
For all the criticisms of Android's high levels of piracy and a perceived reluctance to pay for games by its users, sheer scale is turning Google's OS into a significant handheld gaming platform.
Some companies are already making dedicated games devices running Android, including handhelds like the Nvidia Shield and micro-consoles that connect to televisions like Ouya, GameStick, GamePop and Mad Catz's Project M.O.J.O.Google has also been tipped to launch its own-brand games console running Android, with the Wall Street Journal reporting earlier this year that such a device is being developed in the expectation that Apple has similar ambitions for TV-based gaming.
Even combined, however, Android and iOS are still some way from challenging console game sales. Research firm Newzoo has predicted that smartphones and tablet games will generate $12.3bn of revenues in 2013, versus $30.6bn for consoles – although the latter figure includes handhelds.
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