iPhone Life magazine

Revenue Wars: Will iOS or Android Help You Beat the 'App Poverty Line?'

We hear the debate often—which mobile operating system is better, Apple's iOS or Google's Android? If you follow tech news and blogs, most likely you've seen the numbers broken down every way possible. And while this new infographic is not unique in that it pits iOS and Android against each other, the "war" isn't over market share or user experience— it's about app revunue. The graphic, designed by Ben Moss, editor of WebdesignerDepot, offers a very useful comparison for the so-called starving developer.

With more than a billion smartphones now in circulation worldwide, it comes as some surprise that one in three developers live below the “app poverty line,” unable to support themselves from their apps. But the 7 percent of developers living the dream, making more than $10,000 per month off a single app, keep others strategizing to do the same. That strategy starts with choosing a platform.

Why not release versions for both iOS and Android, you might ask? While ideal, Moss said the reality remains, "in the age of the lean start-up, where minimum viable products are all the rage, you have to pick a side and prioritize one or the other."

To help make this difficult decision, Moss made this infographic, "Revenue Wars, iOS vs. Android Apps" based on the latest trends.

Some would say Android is winning the OS battle, as the just-released Q1 report on mobile handset sales shows Android accounted for 75 percent of sales. But that only covers market share, not financial success.

Apple's App Store still rakes in 74 percent of total app profit, leaving 26 percent split among Android, Blackberry, and windows phone. So iOS developers end up making 37 percent more than Android developers on average. While the graphic doesn't focus on monetization strategies, it does include that freemium apps account for 71 percent of Apple app revenue.

But even if you want to create an iOS app, the question remains, do you have the money to cover development costs? It takes within three months roughly to develop an app, and it's estimated that each iOS app costs more than $27,000 to develop, 21 percent more than for Android, and 81 percent more than Blackberry.

Assuming a developer can afford these costs, iOS developers have a better chance of breaking even, 54 percent, compared with Android, 47 percent.

It appears Apple users are more likely to pay higher prices for apps, making iOS development an enticing prospect to consider. But as Android makes great gains in market share, which would you prefer to develop for?

App Snapshot

Apps multiply daily, and Moss gives us a moving snapshot of each mobile OS' ecosystem. Apple's App Store now has 840,000 apps, 40 billion downloads, and 500 million device activations. Google Play, on the other hand, has 800,000 apps, 30 billion downloads, and 750 million device activations.

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Donna Schill Cleveland's picture
Donna Schill Cleveland is the editor in chief of iPhone Life magazine. After a stint as a newspaper reporter, she became web editor at iPhone Life, where she continues to pair her penchant for storytelling with her love of Apple products. Donna holds a masters degree from the University of Iowa School of Journalism & Mass Communication.