Android Users Won’t Drop Money on Just Any App

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 26 2014 12:46 PM

Android Users Won’t Drop Money on Just Any App

phones
The majority of smartphone owners have Androids, but iOS users are the big spenders.

Photo from Shutterstock/Phil Tinkler.

Wednesday at Google's I/O developer conference, the company released hard numbers for the first time about how much it has been paying out to developers and how many monthly active users there are on Android. And as venture capitalist Benedict Evans points out on his blog, the numbers confirm what people have suspected for awhile: iOS users spend a lot more money on apps.

In fact, even though there are more than double the number of Android users (about 1 billion vs. 470 million), iOS users still spend double the money on apps. (Evans estimates that Apple paid iOS app developers $10 billion in the last 12 months vs. the $5 billion Google paid Android developers.) If there are double the Android users and they spend half as much, Android’s average revenue per user is about one-quarter what it is for iOS.

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Some of the reasons for these differences are well known. For example, Android phones tend to be cheaper than iPhones, and many of Android's users are in developing countries. As a result, Android users aren't making as much of an initial investment in their phones and may not have disposable income for buying apps. Evans adds deeper commentary, noting:

Many people in [developing] countries lack credit cards and Google has been very slow to offer carrier billing ... [and] if developers believe that Android users dfo not pay, then their behavior will be affected—they may offer a free ad-supported app instead of a paid app, or have a lower price. And if they decide not to support Android or support it second, then their users will gravitate to iPhone first, which becomes self-fulfilling.

Though to U.S. consumers it may seem like Android and iOS compete pretty directly, even broad stats like these show that they actually pursue different market share and user bases. It’s not rigid, though. Buck the trends and be whatever type of mobile user you want.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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