The real problem for Android developers: their customers

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.