As the revenue gap to iOS shrinks, why aren't developers supporting Android tablets?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
As the revenue gap to iOS shrinks, why aren't developers supporting Android tablets?
The numbers have been studied, and all signs point to the fact that while developers still generate more revenue on iOS in the iTunes App Store than in the Google Play Store for Android devices, the gap is shrinking. We've also seen some pretty impressive new Android tablets on the market and on the way, so why aren't developers working harder to support 10" Android tablets?

We've seen the vicious circle of app support a number of times: a platform has trouble gaining traction because of lesser app support, and has lesser app support because it doesn't have enough market traction. It happened early on for Android, and is something that Windows Phone is still struggling with. The strange thing is that it's also been a problem for 10" Android tablets, even though Android has definitely been gaining momentum in the market. 

The days of the iPad being the de facto choice for a tablet are gone. The last set of numbers showed that Apple's once dominating lead had fallen to a mere majority stake with the iPad comprising just under 57% of tablet shipments worldwide, and Android all the way up to 41%. Granted, this number does include 7" Android tablets, as well as 7" Android offshoots like the Amazon Kindle Fire, but regardless, Android has certainly proven that it is making its way into the hands of consumers. Getting devices into the hands of consumers is a strong step towards breaking the vicious cycle of app support, and the another big factor in breaking the cycle is in how much revenue is generated on a platform.

The shrinking revenue gap

For those stuck in old thinking, let's get this out of the way as clearly as possible: Android is not populated only by free apps, and users do purchase apps. In fact, while Apple does still lead according to some metrics, the revenue gap is shrinking and some even put the Google Play Store as the better option for making money as an app developer. There are four different sources for the numbers that we've seen, and while the specifics vary, the trend with all of them is that app revenue gap is shrinking. 

We do need to point out that a lot of these numbers are based on estimations and extrapolation. The last time there were real stats on the subject of app revenue was back in Aril, then Tech-Thoughts took those stats and used estimated month-over-month growth stats to extrapolate. That doesn't necessarily mean that the numbers are wrong, but we definitely can't take them as fact either. However, the month-over-month trends are the real issue, and those show Android gaining on iOS.

The general trend comes from App Annie, which is a service that helps developers track their apps' revenue stats across both iTunes and Google Play as well as overall app store trends for all apps. Back in April, the iTunes App Store generated approximately 71% of all app revenue between the two platforms, and Google Play had just 29%. But, extrapolating out by using the month-over-month stats, the gap has closed quickly, and as of September, the Google Play Store could be up as high as 44% of app revenue and iTunes was down to 56%

This is a pretty big change, and the numbers can be backed up by other studies. Most interesting is by using the numbers from VisionMobile, which found in April/May that per month iOS apps generated an average of $3,693, while Google Play apps generated an average of $2,735. Extrapolating out, that could have shifted in favor of Android with Google Play generating more that iTunes in September at about $4000 per app per month. The key to VisionMobile's numbers is that it is based on a survey of 1500 app developers, and includes ad revenue. 

Ad revenue may be the real key, because while some say that ads on iOS are more valuable, the ad revenue could be the big equalizer in terms of overall app revenue. This seems to be shown most in the numbers from Distimo & CCS Insight, which shows that the iTunes App Store is extremely top heavy. Even just based on the original numbers from VisionMobile, the average app revenue per month was relatively close between iOS and Android. But, the numbers from Distimo, which originate in January before the Tech-Thoughts extrapolation, show that when looking specifically at the Top 200 Apps, iOS generates quite a bit more in daily revenue per app. 

The numbers from January show that the Top 200 iOS apps generated $5.41 million in daily revenue as compared to just $0.68 million for Google Play, and even after extrapolating, the top iOS apps still make about 2.5 times more than the top apps on Android. Given how much closer the monthly averages were from VisionMobile, we can either assume that Google Play is either more evenly distributed as far as app revenue, or we can assume that app sales revenue is bolstered by ad revenue. The real answer may be somewhere in the middle, but most stores, digital and physical, tend to be somewhat top heavy as far as product popularity, so it's more reasonable to assume ad revenue is more relevant here. 

However you want to look at it, it's hard to argue that Android tablets are bad business, especially with Google pushing harder and harder to put the Play Store front and center in new versions of Android on the Nexus line of devices.



1. Mxyzptlk unregistered

One thing is app piracy. People sideload apps on Android and developers aren't willing to risk that chance. They make more money off iOS so the game is still quite huge.

5. aahmed215

Posts: 169; Member since: Jun 18, 2012

There is app piracy on the iPhone too.

29. HäckeMáte

Posts: 168; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

Wow Mxy, ever heard of Cydia or Installous?? its actually far worse than sideloading apps on Android. I've even used it to download LogMeIn Ignition (a $99.00 app)

35. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Yes you're correct, you have to jailbreak the device. Most use Cydia to get all their black market apps. Unlike Android, you can get them, and side load them practically from anywhere. Furthermore, you need not root device to use pirated apps, so the process easier, simpler.

46. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

DANG!!!! Apple is just starting to become more like Nokia! (Didn't c that coming!)

7. buccob

Posts: 2963; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

I would say that Jailbreaking and Cydia is way more popular than sideloading on Android... For the average guy, it is known that Cydia exist and it is a complete pirate store available for jailbroken iphones... Android on the other hand is popular, but the average guy don't even know there is sideloading option... So your argument is not really valid... There is piracy on both OS

10. deuel_18

Posts: 54; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

arent there any blocking security system for piracy? what they did with RealPlayer in Google Chrome..luckily theres still window 8 i could use to download my favorite song/videos from youtube

16. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

That does seem fishy Hmmm...

23. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

That's still pretty impressive Apple having 57% of market share, specially that it is on its own, UNlike Android.

27. tedkord

Posts: 17288; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They had a huge head start, and Android tablets stumbled out the gate. Within a year or two, Apple share will mirror smartphones. Android JB is super smooth, without sacrificing any the power or flexibility.

37. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

just compare how many phones and tablets each OS has....enough of your dumb comments...

39. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010


43. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

All you need is to open your browser, bang your done. How easy is that, or is it perhaps you have never tried it or know how to do it.

8. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Yeah, I'd have to agree with the guys who replied to you. Piracy may be easier on Android, but that doesn't mean it's more prevalent, because it is still only done by an extremely small proportion of the user base. And, regardless of piracy, Android is closing the gap with iOS in terms of app revenue, and that can't be ignored.

11. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Well-done article. I am curious to see that the ipadmini is supposedly set to grab a bit more marketshare. From what I've been hearing the 4 is the hot seller, and folks have been buying now-cheaper 3s and 2s instead of the smaller, less-capable, and non-retina-screened mini. I think the 7-9" tablet market will remain Android's, and the 9.7"+ will become a 3-way race (as it's already starting to be) between Android, ipad, and Windows RT

15. tedkord

Posts: 17288; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The story author replying is like super food to the troll. Don't feed him. To add to the discussion, it's less necessary to rework an app for Android, since Android doesn't require a certain resolution like iOS. Like a PC, an android device scales to the given resolution. Also, data showing the inevitable dominance of android on the Tablet sector has only just started showing up. When developers start seeing a trending toward android and money to be made, developers will follow.

26. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

That's what everyone thinks, but I've had some good discussions with Myx.

30. tedkord

Posts: 17288; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Where there's smoke...

38. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Must have been eons ago...

47. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

You guys need to realize that just because someone likes Apple doesn't make them a troll. I've seen you guys reacting to Myx like he's a troll, even though he hasn't said anything inflamatory.

49. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

Great article but I think you nailed it at the end. The apps are universal which is a huge benefit to having an android tablet and phone. Developers can't double dip with Android users so gives them less incentive to do so. Personally I prefer only having to buy the app once or having to decide which device I want to buy it for. With the gap in market share closing I'm sure that'll be the push developers need.

12. noim1

Posts: 297; Member since: May 15, 2012

It is clearly shown that u r an iSheep !!! if there are premium & Quality apps for tablets then why not..i would also pay for the app to gain future updates .....and don't talk like there is no Piracy in iOS .....stop bitching and accept your iOS is 2 years behind Android .....

22. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

What you said is load of baseless nonsense some ios app developers have as much piracy as android developers so that excuse is lame, jailbreak is a YouTube video away, people who want to pirate apps will pirate apps

34. LOTR12

Posts: 13; Member since: Nov 04, 2012

A lot of android users don't side load or pirate apps because most of the ones they use are free, or the ones that come with the tablet/phone are good enough that they don't have to do all the pirate work.

36. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

You are entitled to your opinion. Yes, there are several useless apps that are free, especially games. However, say you wanted something with more substance, say to tether. You can get the free version, which they'll call lite, with minimum functionality. You have to invest $3.99 and upward for the pro version.

42. AamirSIII

Posts: 187; Member since: Oct 04, 2012

Im 100% android user and i 100% agree to what u have just said. u know just about 3 weeks ago i had to buy my first tablet. i did so much research to choose between iPad and Note 10.1 i cant tell u! but at the end i went for Note 10.1! u know why, cause of the Android! i love Android because of its openness! but i knew there would be not much of apps for my tablet. and yes there are literally not much! even the most commonly used apps have no tablet compatible version! i live in Pakistan. here we have no play store purchase facility. but i get the play cards more than their original price just to buy apps i like! for a person living in a country with no play store purchase facility, i still buy apps! i would personally like to request developers (either solo developers or companies) to pls develop apps for android seriously! u would not be disappointed! make our tablet experiences better and we would make ur pockets heavy.... lol :)

48. thephonedude

Posts: 60; Member since: Oct 27, 2012

There is app piracy in iOS too.. ahem ahem *jailbreaking paid apps for free ahem..

2. MeoCao unregistered

Oh they will, after Nexus 10 we will see a lot more adapted apps for 10" hi-res Andoid tablets.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

...... because those same "developers" have stock in Apple, so you see, it's a conflict of financial interest; they need Android tablets to fail, no matter how much more superior they may be to that tAmpAd, their iDividends depend on it.

4. wendygarett unregistered

Nice article Michael... Keep up the good work :)

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