The real problem for Android developers: their customers

The real problem for Android developers: their customers

Summary: Apple rallied its troops of developers at its recent developer conference and dissed the rival Android platform. But Apple shouldn't worry about defections: developers are following the money and that means iOS.


Apple executives at last week's Worldwide Developers Conference lectured its corps of developers on the benefits of the iOS platform, while just scratching the surface on the problems for developers with the Android platforms. There was scant mention of the real problem: the lame Android customers.

At WWDC, Apple put out its case to developers for the iOS platform, online services, integrated development environment, and store:

• A payout of more than $10 billion to developers, $5 billion in the last 12 months.
• 575 million credit card accounts in the Apple App Store.
• Apple customers use their smartphone 50 percent more than other platforms.
• The mobile web share for iOS is 60 percent vs. 24 percent for Android.
• 97 percent of iOS customers are pleased with the platform, 73 percent are "very satisfied."
• A market of 600 million iOS devices.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says "It's clear that if people are using their devices more, they're loving them more." In addition, he suggested that just as iOS customers buy more apps than the competition, "they also buy more of everything else."

However, all isn't roses. A recent survey by the App Promo mobile solution marketing consultancy presents a different picture, especially for Android developers. My colleague Joe McKendrick at Service Oriented looked at the research and said that most mobile app developers aren't making much money from their apps. 

However, a closer look at the results by platform shows that things are worse for Android developers compared with iOS developers:

•Some 10 percent of iOS developers said they haven't earned a dime in profit compared with 41 percent of Android developers.
•The most common price for an Android app is $0.99 vs. $2.99 for iOS apps.
•Some 68 percent of developers seeing success in the U.S. market vs. 43 percent for Android developers.

So, the short story here is that Apple developers are doing better; Apple developers can charge more for their apps; and Apple developers are selling apps in geographical markets known for having customers willing to pay for their software.

According to the App Promo survey, it appears that the revenue model chosen first by Android developers is an advertising model, rather than the paid app model chosen by iOS developers. This advertising strategy doesn't appear to be working for them. Worse, the potential customers for Android are having trouble paying more than a buck for apps.

Note that Apple customers have traditionally bought more "stuff" than those using the competition, so, this isn't a new trend. More peripherals, more software, and more services. And often they payed more for the hardware. I recall talking with a publisher back in 1990s that sold books for cross-platform software as well as platform-specific titles. This was in the Mac vs. Windows days. Even though the Mac was just a small fraction of the PC market, Mac users bought more books. They did more stuff with their stuff and wanted to buy more stuff.

Developers know this. Apple users are the better customers. It appears not so much for Android.

Topics: Software Development, Android, Apple, iOS

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  • IOS users spend more on everything.

    A fool and his money are soon part.
    • soon

      This soon is taking way too long, few decades already.

      Something might be wrong in your logic, eh?
      • Decades?

        Sounds like about as long as Apple has been parting fools with their money.

        The other issue is this, Android can do more out of the box. And what vanilla Android cannot do, device manufacturers are augmenting before the OS ever gets into consumers hands. Thus, many fewer apps are required. Being a featurephone rather than a smartphone, apps are required to make iOS bearable.

        The other thing that matters is the sample. How much do Android users who payed $100 or more at purchase time spend on their apps? How much time to they spend browsing? What is their satisfaction level?

        I am not about do defend Android because I am a detractor of the spyware company who makes it. But we need to make to apples comparison.

        Apple users are wealthier and view their Apple products as superior simply because they payed more for them in the first place. Like an expensive handbag that is no better at holding your purse than a cheaper one, or an expensive watch that is no better at telling time than a Casio, or even name-brand dish soap vs. the store brand sold on the lower shelf, we perceive extra value due only to the brand. Apple has been excellent at building a brand. I think the functionality gap between Android and iOS reveals which is the technologically superior product (and it ain't the more expensive one).

        That said, for developers, the argument rings true -- but if they are charging more for their Apps on iOS, isn't that worse for the sucker who bought an iOS device? I think thecrud was exactly right.
        x I'm tc
        • Take one point...

          "I think the functionality gap between Android and iOS reveals which is the technologically superior product (and it ain't the more expensive one)."

          It is the one with the best programming API and dev set hands down and without question. And it ain't the FOSS one. Many simpletons looks at the "OS" and assume it is nothing but the "shell". The launcher. The Springboard. The home screen.
          • Android isn't FOSS

            I think you mean...

            It's not the partially FOSS with the other bits locked down tight, one that likes to represent itself as FOSS.
            Henry 3 Dogg
          • Superior?

            Java is far superior and widely supported programming language. Java is a language that was built for the web, not for creating 'apps'
            Mike Dietz
          • Java is Garbage

            The instant that the web moves away from Java, the better it will be.
          • Not actually the magic bullet you seem to think it is...

            Then why is the Java VM a cesspool of ongoing exploits?
          • Superior?

            Just goes to show how ignorant people in the "computer age" can be about computers.

            Java is an interpretive environment, and thus needs to run in a virtual machine - one layer removed from the hardware which can impair performance by an order of magnitude.

            The only superiority interpretive code enjoys is portability, and even that is suspect.

            The joke about Java is: Write once, debug everywhere.
          • Objective C is Garbage

            if you think so...have you developed any apps?
            Mike Dietz
          • Objective C is an actual language

            and not managed byte code sloppily written on top of a runtime. Java is a productivity language for RAD at best, and C++ for dummies at worst.
          • Trouble porting your iPhone 4 apps to iPhone 5?

            thats because Objective C was developed for desktops...ass
            Mike Dietz
          • You know

            The first one to start using insults is the one who lacks the leg to stand on. Face it Java sucks - it's slow, buggy, and vulnerable. And I don't know of any people who have had trouble porting iPhone 2G/3G/3GS/4/4S apps to iPhone 5. Do you have any proof of this issue? If so can you post a link? Thanks.
          • Ever written code, in either?

            I have. look who's standing. Objetive C over complicates the app development process...and as most new apps are written in html5 and css3 where are your legs?
            Mike Dietz
          • Yep

            And that's why Android doesn't use pure Java.
          • Umm

            iOS underneath is a Desktop OS and the ROM is actually huge.
          • yeah pretty sloppy if you ask me

            android and its "Java API" are quite light weight
            Mike Dietz
          • Support for mutiple resolutions on multiple devices OUT OF THE BOX

            enough can push that crap down your throat if you want...go ahead use a language designed in the 80's
            Mike Dietz
          • Are you serious?

            Ask any Dev and they will tell you the love the open API of Android more than any other platform but, they recognize that some items sell better on iOS.

            Also, if you actually look at the top sellers for each, there are clear differences on the platforms where the Android platform tends to sell more tools, launchers, or utilities and iOS sells more Apps and Games.
          • Thank you sir!

            that's what I'm sayin'...jeeze...
            Mike Dietz