"Developers, developers, developers". Steve Ballmer said it in 2006, and it's even more true today.
Nobody will use those fancy phones and tablets unless they have lots of great apps, and developers are the ones that create the apps. With a few exceptions, apps normally run on a single platform, so developers have to decide (sometimes well in advance of release) which platforms to target. Guess what attracts developers to one platform over another?
And according to mobile analytics company Flurry, iOS is winning the money game so far this year:
"Anecdotally, developers consistently tell us that they make more money on iOS, about three to four times as much. To be sure, we pulled a sample of in-app purchase data from a set of top apps with versions on both iOS and Android, comprising of several million daily active users (DAUs). Running the numbers, we find that, on average, for every $1.00 generated on iOS, the same app will generate $0.24 on Android."
In the 3rd quarter 2011, Flurry reports that new project starts on iOS outnumbered project starts on Android by a 3 to 1 margin. They place the blame squarely on Google for not making it easier for Android users to spend money in the Market:
"The largest single factor that appears to impact developer support for the platform is the consumer’s ability to pay. This comes down to Google Checkout penetration. Upon setting up an iOS device, a consumer must associate either a credit or gift card to her iTunes account. In theory, this means that 100% of all iOS device users are payment enabled. This has not been the case for Android, resulting in lower revenue generation possibilities on the platform."
I think the Amazon Appstore is poised to take everybody by surprise and become a real revenue generator for Android developers. Ideally, we'd just have one app store, but with Google's missteps with the Google Market and their witholding of the Market from unapproved devices, they've left the door open for competitors. Flurry, though, is optimistic Google will step up to the plate:
"With the recent integration of Google Wallet and Google Checkout, as well as their current $0.10 Android app sale to spur new account sign-ups, Google appears to be taking steps to correct this."
We'll see. Lately Google's emphasis has been on everything but apps, in particular Books, Videos, and Music. These are all things that Amazon is good at (especially the first two) and I'm highly skeptical Google can take a significant share away from them. Perhaps it's time for Google to team up with Amazon, let Amazon run the Market and let Google concentrate on their core competencies: providing the enabling technology (Android), searches, voice, ads, and ad networks.