iOS vs Android: Why Android is an underrated investment for developers

iOS vs Android: Why Android is an underrated investment for developers

This is a guest contribution by Sam Forrest, Director of Global Communications & Content at KamaGames. If you would like to submit a contribution please contact Bill Beatty for submission details. Thank you.

The rivalry between Apple’s iOS system and Google’s Android is now becoming an accepted constant of the tech industry: If you own a smartphone, chances are it runs on either system, with 99.6% of smartphones using one or the other.

iOS vs Android: Why Android is an underrated investment for developersApple’s brand has cache and mystique (with an ad spend reaching $1.8 billion in 2016, the last year they made it publicly known). Meanwhile, Android devices are diverse and rising in popularity, just about edging Apple’s iPhones in sales.

Also worth noting is that the number of titles released on the App Store last year is said to be around 755,000, which is a drop of 29% from the year prior. This is the first ever decline in the number of new app launches via the App Store.

Google Play developers meanwhile shipped 1.5 million new apps, an increase of 17% year-on-year. This is the largest rise since 2014.

It’s not surprising, considering the high profile of both systems, that assumptions, myths and misunderstandings proliferate. For both app and game developers, this can be dangerous, as major business decisions can be made based on wrong or incomplete information.

Games developers, even titans in the industry, have finite resources, so important questions must be considered such as on which platform do players pay more? and where should developers concentrate their labour and finance?

At KamaGames, we’re in a strong position to analyse these questions.

Our monthly active user base (MAU) is more than 3.2 million players, our audience is split between iOS and Android, and these players are spread across the world. The UK, US, Canada and Australia are the key markets for the company and as you would expect, we regularly and comprehensively analyse our iOS and Android users in these regions.

There’s a misconception that Android development isn’t a good investment in terms of traffic. We’re going to show you if you target high-end Android devices, they’re as valuable as top iOS devices.

Myth: iOS generates more pay-per-player

Fact: Revenue per player is almost identical

A misunderstanding has many sources, and the myth of iOS having higher ARPPU (average revenue per paying user) is borne of anecdotal information, extrapolations and misleading statistics.

The iPhone is a high-end, expensive consumer device. Android devices, on the other hand, vary wildly in price, ranging from the cheapest smartphones on the market (some costing less than

$100 retail) to cutting edge, industry-leaders. This might lead developers to believe that ARPPU is lower among Android users.

Another, more concrete statistic is factual but misleading: The average percentage of paying users on iOS is 2.52 times higher than on Android. However, these numbers are skewed by cheaper Android devices. For high-end devices, revenue-per-player is virtually the same across both Android and iOS devices.

Our research also clearly shows that the higher the version of iOS our players have directly relates to the percentage of paying players and higher ARPPU. The higher the iOS the more likely they are to be paying players. This same measurement does not work the same way for Android, as each manufacturer has an isolated version of Android OS and therefore it varies from one device to another.

Looking closer, our analytics show that the performance indicators of high end Android smartphones (Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, Galaxy Note8, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Samsung Galaxy S9+ ) are no different to that of the top iOS devices (iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X). At this level, the percentage of paying users, purchase behaviour and what they pay is almost exactly the same.

What’s more, targeting is more cost-effective for developers on high end Android devices than for iOS equivalents…

Myth: Android is less cost effective for user acquisition

Fact: Targeted marketing is cheaper on Android in many territories

With similar market size, ARPPU and trends maintaining these figures, Android is clearly a fertile ground for app developers. Apple had recent market dominance (now diminishing) and a higher profile, which has skewed industry perception in favour of iOS.

One final piece of the puzzle is user acquisition. The cost per user for Android is significantly cheaper and therefore positively affect ROI. Whether we’re targeting Russia and Eastern Europe, or relatively inexpensive countries to market to (such as Malaysia, Thailand or India), we have found that the cost per user is always lower for Android than for iOS plus we are also able to filter and tailor messages to only target users of the high-end Android devices.

The iOS vs Android debate doesn’t seem to be slowing down. We have over 500,000 players per day playing across both operating systems, so, as company we believe in and support both.

That said, we know from experience that Android is an underrated and underestimated resource.

The Lesson

If there is a lesson to be taken away from this, it is that learned experience, stats and hard data will always be more valuable than rumours and limited information. Just as we are happy to learn from the experience of others, we’re happy to share our learned knowledge with the industry. Developing for Android is an overlooked and underrated endeavour. Time will tell whether perception will catch up with reality.

Sam Forrest is Director of Global Communications & Content at KamaGames. A PR and Communications veteran with over 25 years of experience in the interactive entertainment sector, Forrest has worked with a wide number of well-known global entertainment brands including Disney/Pixar, WWE, UFC, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Hasbro and Marvel.