Developers seeing four times the revenue on iPhone compared to Android

Dec 21, 2011
Finance

With the year coming to a close, lots of people are taking a look back at 2011 to see how various mobile markets have fared. For many developers working on both Apple’s iOS platform and Google’s Android, 2011 might look like the year iOS paid a whole lot more than Android (again). According to new […]

With the year coming to a close, lots of people are taking a look back at 2011 to see how various mobile markets have fared. For many developers working on both Apple’s iOS platform and Google’s Android, 2011 might look like the year iOS paid a whole lot more than Android (again).

According to new data from market research firm Distimo, developers made four times as much revenue making apps for the iTunes App Store compared to the Android Market, at least among the top 200 apps in both spaces. Meanwhile, iPad developers made twice as much as their Android-inclined counterparts, as TechCrunch reports.

That’s in spite of Google saying for most of the year that it was seeing some 500,000 device activations daily (a number it just revised up to 700,000). Despite having so many devices out there, Android still suffers from the same problems it always has: app discovery and fragmentation of the market. It’s harder for customers to find Android apps that work for their devices, so it’s harder for developers to make money creating them.

One place Android outpaced iOS, however, was money made with the “freemium” game model. These are games that players download for free but which offer in-game purchases that push game progress forward. Distimo found that 65 percent of the revenue generated by the top 200 apps in the Android Market came from freemium titles. In the iTunes App Store, it was just under half.

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The App Store is still the largest among all the major players, having grown from about 300,000 apps in January 2011 to around 430,000 by November for the iPhone, and rising from about 60,000 to about 150,000 for iPad. Google’s Android Market is keeping pace, but still has significantly fewer apps – it grew from about 150,000 apps in January to just over 340,000 in November.

Apple also still leads in games, the most downloaded category of apps and the one that generates the most revenue. This might account for some of the discrepancy between iOS and Android. Apple offers 79,077 game apps in the App Store (with another 28,633 designed specifically for the iPad), while Android offers only 46,045.

And as we’ve heard before, China is now accounting for a huge number of app downloads for iOS. We discovered this year that China has become Apple’s second-largest market, and that holds true for the App Store as well. Distimo found that in January, China accounted for downloads equal to about 18 percent of U.S. app downloads, but by November, that number had grown to 30 percent. With iPad apps, China’s downloads are nearly the same as U.S. downloads.

All these numbers paint a picture that shows how powerful apps were in 2011 and are sure to be going into 2012. While Google is still pulling in lots of new users and selling new devices, it’s clear that the Apple model is continuing to work better for developers and users alike. How things will change for both companies in 2012 is yet to be seen, obviously, but with popular devices like the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5 on the horizon, it seems like iOS could be positioned to spend another year as the dominant platform, at least in terms of apps.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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