Relatively new in the game of famous rivalries — among the likes of chocolate vs. vanilla and peanut butter vs. Nutella — is the mobile tête-à-tête of Android vs. iOS. While most major businesses will dip their feet in both waters, new and developing app providers should note the primary distinguishing factors between the two in order to strategically map out resources and development.

So without any further ado, let’s get into the ring:

Market Insights

Before getting started on app development, it helps to know the key differences between the market and customer base of the competing mobile devices. iPhone users are reported to be younger and more affluent than their counterparts, and Apple also boasts high numbers for brand loyalty and repeat customers. Additionally, iPhone users are more likely to engage in and spend time involved with a variety of mobile experiences across the board, including but not limited to social media, reading, and retail. With this propensity for “total” lifestyle experiences on mobile, it should come as no surprise that M-commerce leads on iOS with 23% engagement vs. Android’s 17%. App developers would be savvy to take heed of these insights by providing full, enriching, and attractive in-app experiences to the aforementioned target markets.

To Android’s benefit, on the other hand, is its present mushrooming of consumers (especially outside of the United States) adapting to its devices, boasting record-breaking growth to Apple’s chagrin. A larger consumer base inevitably means a larger market for app downloads and the ability to reach wider audiences: Android downloads accounted for a whopping 75% of all app installments in 2013, with Apple trailing behind with just 18%. With these facts in mind, there’s a healthy probability of extensive future development based on the burgeoning Android market alone. Such investment in time, funds, and resources could prove to be beneficial for app monetization models on this OS in the long run. Last but not least, developer accounts on the Google Play store tend to be less restrictive and user-friendly than those offered in tandem with the Apple Store. Google Play is also has faster rates of growth with new offerings and updates everyday.

Making Money

They say that money talks, and if so, iOS is currently dominant as far as dollars go. As per mobile marketing company Swrve’s “App Monetization and Engagement” report, iOS users are nearly three times more likely to purchase apps, spending slightly more on average than their Android-using counterparts. iOS continues to reign supreme with in-app and freemium offerings, spending nearly twice as much as Android users in these sectors.

One downside of Android — in the realm of both in-app purchases and paid downloads — is that hacking and fraud tend to be recurring issues, with a healthy chunk of daily downloads being refunded. While this problem is definitely a primary concern of the OS itself, app developers should be cognizant of this issue and strategize purchases accordingly.

When all is said and done, in spite of the larger market to which Android caters, Apple Store sales significantly trump those of Google Play.

Making sense

Since apps most often allow for a more intimate and all-encompassing experience than mobile sites, it’s wise to know the major differences between the two operating systems and their users’ lifestyles and habits in order to most effectively monetize your business.

While Android boasts a much larger user base to whom apps can be marketed and sold, Apple remains supreme in monetizing with paid apps, in-app purchases, and freemium offerings. One major reason behind this trend is that Apple holds a major brand and cultural presence in the United States, with approximately 48% of American smartphone users favoring the iPhone. American consumers tend to have higher incomes and spend more on apps than users around the globe, which may account for some of its hefty profitability. Businesses around the globe can take heed of this fact and pay special attention to marketing specifically to American audiences.

In spite of Android’s seeming shortcomings, however, its sheer breadth and continuing expansion show great promise for the future. With a few key benefits in its pocket — including significantly shorter submission-to-publishing time, consistent updates and new releases, and a variety of developer-friendly incentives — businesses can play their cards right to sufficiently monetize Android so long as they understand and anticipate the market, cater to the masses, and remain forward-thinking so as to help their revenue numbers catch up to the high proportion of user downloads.


Marketing Manager

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