Is Google worried about Play Store app download revenue?

Despite Android’s nearly 80 percent of the mobile market, app revenue from the Google Play Store lags behind Apple’s App Store. It appears that Google is going to make some new moves to try to shrink that gap, starting with a new trial mode for apps, according to a story published Wednesday on The Information.

The report cites a person involved in discussions on a new “micro app” technology that could let users download a small portion of an app before deciding to buy it. Some Android apps are huge, with downloads measured in GBs, so an easier way for consumers to get up and running and decide whether the app is for them could boost app sales.

[company]Google[/company] is also reportedly playing hardball with device manufacturers who previously got a cut of Google Play revenue from phones and tablets they sold. Some partners have seen their commission reduced from 25 percent to 15 percent, with one partner’s cut being eliminated entirely, apparently because “Google wasn’t generating enough money from Google Play.”

There’s already a sort of trial mode for apps on Google Play. Earlier this year, Google quietly extended the app return window to two hours from 10 minutes, which effectively gives a consumer time to see if an app works before the purchase is finalized. However, the user still needs to download the whole app before using it, which could take hours depending on the size of the file. Apple’s App Store currently doesn’t have a user-friendly system to trial apps.

There are a lot of potential reasons why iOS users buy more apps and more expensive apps than Android users. A lot of app developers develop for iOS before Android. The average price of an iPhone is over twice as high as the average Android selling price. Android phones don’t always come with the Google Play store, either: Most Chinese phones running Android don’t come with Google services pre-installed.

The Information story quotes a former Google employee who thinks Google Play will generate between $3 billion and $4 billion in this year, including sales of movies and music. Analysts have estimated that Google Play app revenue will pass App Store revenue in 2018.