The Android Landscape for Developers

By | December 4, 2014

As the leading mobile platform in the world does Android represent the best bet for app developers? It’s a tricky question we’re about to take a closer look at and attempt to answer. We’ll begin by examining the size of the opportunity.

Android landscape

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According to Statista Android’s global share was 78.4 percent in 2013. There are more than 1.5 million Android devices activated every day. There will be well over 1.6 billion Android smartphones worldwide by the end of the year. There are almost 1.5 million separate apps and games in the Play Store and the average price is around 6 cents.

The Android platform is comfortably ensconced as the leading mobile OS for now, but does that dominant market share convert into cold hard cash for app developers?

Show me the money

A gloomy Gartner prediction from the start of the year suggested that 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers through 2018. That assessment is based on two demonstrable trends:

  1. Free apps – more and more apps and games are being offered for free with little or no prospect of generating revenue.
  2. More apps – as developers push out more and more apps the competition grows tougher and high quality free apps create an expectation in consumers.

A Distimo report from March this year found that games are the most popular category in the Play Store and account for 41 percent of all installs. The freemium model is dominant and yet 90 percent of all app revenue generated in Google Play comes from games.

That figure is only slightly lower for the App Store, but the average 6 cent price tag for Android apps comes from Flurry research which pegged the average iPhone app price at $0.19 and the average iPad app price at $0.50. If you plan on flying in the face of the freemium trend then the iOS platform looks like a better bet than Android.

Set your expectations

There’s no questioning the size of the opportunity on Android, but a handful of very successful apps are skewing the statistics significantly. Localytics found that 20 percent of apps are only ever used once. To generate revenue freemium apps need engagement and mobile advertising is all about numbers. Getting your app or game onto a device is only the beginning.

According to Midia Research a study of the 700 top grossing apps from May covering seven territories found that 84.9 percent were games and 81 percent came from 50 companies. The top title, Clash of Clans, is making well in excess of $1 million per day just on the Android platform. You don’t have to go too far down the chart before the profit dwindles.

There are surprise indie successes, like Flappy Bird, which may have been generating as much as $50,000 a day at its height, but they are rare. Developers should temper their expectations because the vast majority of apps and games never make a profit.

If you are chasing profit then you shouldn’t necessarily be sucked in by the market share. A ReadWrite article at the start of the year suggested Apple makes $5.1 million per day in App Store revenue compared to Google’s $1.1 million. That builds a strong case for targeting iOS first and porting to Android later, which is what a lot of developers are doing.

Further reading

We’ve looked at the common traits of successful casual mobile games, we’ve discussed how to get in-app purchases right, and we’ve offered up some tips for app promotion. If you want to stand out on the Android platform then you’ll need to work at it.

Category: Mobile and video games trends Web and software development Tags: , , , ,

About Simon Hill

Simon is an experienced freelance technology journalist covering mobile technology, software, and videogames for a wide variety of clients in print and online. He regularly contributes to Digital Trends, Tech Radar, and Android Authority, and he ghostwrites for CEOs in the technology space. After completing a Masters in Scottish History at Edinburgh University, he began his career as a games tester, progressing to lead tester, game designer, and finally producer, before leaving the industry to write full time. He is passionate about the potential for good software and hardware to improve our lives, and strongly believes that thorough testing is a vital prerequisite for greatness.