DFC Intelligence believes that games and apps for Apple iOS will continue to dominate the mobile entertainment market over the next few years. Their Global Market for Games and Entertainment Applications on Smartphone and Tablets report forecasts that games will generate $9.7 billion by 2018 on iOS.

By 2018 the number of active Android smartphones is forecasted to be 829 million versus 265 million active iPhones. DFC predicts that similar trends are expected to occur in the tablet market, where the iPad will see application revenue grow even as market share declines.

“With iOS, Apple has created a stable ecosystem that is consumer friendly and allows products to be used across multiple devices. For entertainment products this is essential to growing a stable base of paying consumers,” said DFC analyst David Cole.

As for Google Play, game revenue reached $900 million in 2012 and is expected to surpass $2.7 billion in 2018. “The Android market is fragmented with many proprietary hardware devices and application stores. Google Play is helping provide a standard ecosystem similar to the Apple AppStore,” noted Cole. “Google Play is showing solid growth but Apple is forecasted to be the leader in monetization.”

In 2012, 56 percent of applications downloaded for iPad were games and the iPhone saw 54 percent, but by contrast only 33 percent of Google Play applications were games. Nearly 90 percent of iOS app downloads were free to download with no upfront payment, but consumers show a higher willingness to pay for apps they enjoy.

“2012 was a banner year for the app economy, especially on Apple platforms. With the growth of Google Play we are seeing Android also grow as a content platform,” said Priori Data CEO Patrick Kane. “The App Store and Google Play have become the de facto platforms for mobile entertainment content, especially games. As consumer preferences mature, so must app market participants in order to stay abreast of future opportunities for growth. Continued success will require keeping a close eye on app activity to capitalize on trends before they become common knowledge.”