Developers Are Losing Interest in Android Because They Can't Make Any Money on It

Last week at LeWeb'11 in Paris, Google chairmain Eric Schmidt boldly stated that "Android is ahead of the iPhone now."

He's got guts, but it appears that Eric is in fact ahead of himself. It's true that Android still has momentum—it's reached one billion app downloads per month, the same as Apple, and it has a greater marketshare, even it it's mostly because of the myriad different handset options and hardware brands hawking the platform. But this momentum doesn't look sustainable and the numbers don't reinforce his claim.

According to Flurry Analytics, developers are losing interest in Android. A leading reason for this is because there's no money to be made. At the start of 2011, 37% of new projects with the company came from Android developers. This number plunged to just 25% by the third quarter. This means that new project starts for iOS outnumber those for Android by a handy 3-to-1 and that gap is widening.

Furthermore, Flurry says that "developers consistently tell us that they make more money on iOS." How much more? Four times as much, the devs say, and Flurry double-checked for themselves.

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.

And even this, already a huge gap, is on the conservative end of the disparity spectrum; some say iOS developers can make up to 14 times more than Android developers. No wonder all the best apps come out for the iPhone and iPad first.

Android may have sold more handsets, and may be activating more new devices per day, but Apple is only selling a single device with just one "new" model. Android, meanwhile, launches new phones every month, with several different brands offering a wide array of different smartphones. How could Android not be selling more in this case? In the end, money talks, and if developers flee the Android platform because their wallet is hurting, Google will feel the pain too.

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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