iOS vs. Android: Armed with Data

For the first installment of our series debating iOS vs. Android, we wanted to provide some big-picture perspective on the mobile app marketplace. Before we dive into the technical details of the iOS vs. Android platform wars, this post presents the battle in terms of numbers.

While we summarize some industry data and reports below, numbers only have value when they’re considered in context. To determine which numbers are most important for your individual app or company, you first need to identify your goals and business model. If you have an in-app purchase, you might decide to go with iOS because iPhone and iPad users tend to buy more. If you’re looking to enter a developing market, you might build an Android app because phones using the platform have a higher market penetration.

But a single number shouldn’t be the only basis for your important investment in mobile application development. Below, we take a look at 8 metrics of interest: market share, revenue generation, size of the app stores, store approval rates, app quality, international markets, category growth, and monetization strategies. Because each app has unique requirements, we also recommend you look at data that’s specific to your specific needs. Identify your target audience demographics – age, gender, income, geography, etc. – and review platform adoption, behavior trends, in-app spending, paid app purchasing, estimated user acquisition costs and ad revenue. Look at competing apps and their rankings and market share for iOS vs. Android.

8 Mobile Industry Metrics:

1. Market Share

According to February 2014 data, Android snagged more than half of the mobile OS market at 52%, while iOS comes in second place, at 40%.

Source: Search Engine Journal

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2. Revenue Generated

According to a January 2014 report, the iOS App Store rakes in $5.1 million in revenue per day, while Google Play banks $1.1 million a day.

Source: ReadWrite

3. Size of App Stores

Both app stores hit the 1 million apps milestone, although Google Play reached it first in July 2013. The App Store followed four months later, in November 2013.

Source: ReadWrite, Mashable

4. Store Approval Rates

Of the 26,000 applications submitted each week to the iOS App Store, 30% of them are rejected for failing to meet guidelines. Google Play has no approval process for publishing apps (although they will take down apps that garner user complaints).

Source: VentureBeat

5. App Quality

In a test run by Applause (reported in January 2013), iOS apps were ranked by Applause as higher in quality than Android apps, with an average ranking of 68.53 vs. 63.34. (The service crawled all live apps to aggregate rankings and user reviews.)

Source: ReadWrite

App quality table with data for iOS and Android apps across the leading app store categories.

6. International Markets

According to a review of the 2013 mobile app market (published in January 2014), China strongly drove iOS App Store growth, with exceptional gains in both downloads and revenue. In terms of downloads, (with Google Play gaining more strongly over iOS) Brazil, Russia, India, and China grew faster than the US, South Korea and Japan, although those 3 markets still lead in overall revenue.

Source: App Annie

7. Category Growth

Games remained the key category driving growth in both app stores. In addition to games, tools grew in the Google Play Store while finance apps (especially during tax season) grew in the iOS App Store. Messaging apps gained in both Google Play’s Communication and iOS’ Social Networking categories.

Source: App Annie

Chart with spent on games for iOS, android and Game-Optimized Handhelds.

8. Monetization Strategies

Freemium apps as a business model continue to be very successful for a variety of categories, lead by games, as developers find creative ways to get consumers to make in-app purchases.

Source: App Annie

In our next post, we’ll dig into the differences in submission guidelines, content regulations, and App Store Optimization factors between the iOS App Store and Android’s Google Play.

Based on the data so far, which platform appeals to you? Let us know in the comments.

An important caveat: Reports flood the mobile industry, and the app store numbers can change rapidly. With that in mind, keep a close eye on fluctuations and look for the most current info possible before you make your decision.

Piotr Gajos, Chief Innovation Officer

Piotr is Sourcebits Chief Innovation Officer. A 2006 Apple Design Award winner, Piotr draws much of his inspiration from film and music, and focuses on leading our Innovation Strategy Workshops, generating new ideas for Sourcebits, and consulting on projects.