Shane BarnhillThursday,8 August 2013

The Snap:

This week, IDC released global smartphone market share numbers for the second quarter of 2013, and the results show that Android is dominating. Google’s mobile operating system climbed from an already-astounding 69.1% share in Q2 2012, to a dominating 79.3% share in Q2 2013. As Android’s market share prepares to blow past 80%, hardware manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, ZTE and Lenovo are seeing double and even triple digit year-over-year sales gains on the Android platform.

And Apple? The Cupertino-based power ceded ground, falling from a 16.3% global smartphone market share in Q2 2012, to just over 13% one year later. Clearly, consumers value the price/feature combinations offered by Android-based manufacturers relative to what Apple offers from its iPhone.

The Download:

With IDC’s numbers, an old question has re-emerged: Why do the top apps still release on iOS first and then come to Android months (or even years) later? Given the sheer number of Android devices in the hands of consumers, many people have a hard time understanding why developers continue to prioritize for a platform that is losing ground.


There are two main reasons for this continued trend, and of course, both relate to money.

First, iOS users are more valuable to app makers than Android users. According to App Annie, the iOS App Store generated 2.3 times more revenue than the Google Play market in Q2 2013, despite a higher number of downloads via Google Play. Furthermore, app analytics provider Flurry reports that in April 2013, the average sale price for iPhone apps was 3 times greater than apps for Android phones (and 8x for iPad apps compared with those on Android tablets).

Next, as Semil Shah notes, most developers have “limited time, resources, and customer insights,” which makes it difficult to go Android-first given the platform’s worsening fragmentation (for which Open Signal has some great data visualizations). It’s difficult for developers to manage the user experience on native apps that must scale across dozens of screens sizes and run on multiple OS versions. And “difficult” costs money to overcome.

So you see, the situation isn’t all that puzzling when you follow the money. It’s been 18 months since Eric Schmidt’s prediction that developers would start going Android-first within six months, and it hasn’t happened. Although revenues via the iOS App Store relative to Google Play have fallen from 4x to 2.3x in just three quarters, the economics of app development still favor going iOS first and Android second. At some point, “making it up on volume” via Android’s massive market share will be a viable approach for developers, but clearly, that time isn’t now.

Take Action!

Hat Tips:

App Annie, Flurry, Semil Shah, Open Signal, TechCrunch, BGRImage Credit: Flickr


  1. […] clearly has a superior ecosystem of apps and related products. Nearly all innovative new apps continue to release on iOS first before coming to Android months (or even years) later, because despite Android’s 79.3% global smartphone market share, the iOS App Store still […]

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