There were two separate research reports published not so long ago that tried to get deeper into the Android vs. iOS debate, especially when it comes to one key metric – app revenues. While conventional wisdom says that iOS generates a whole lot more revenue for app developers than Android does, the report by Digi-Capital pointed out the inherent fallacy of that assertion. It emphasized that most studies only take into account revenues from the “official” Google and Apple app stores, disregarding the various third party marketplaces in one of the largest smartphone markets in the world – China. It is worth remembering that in China, because of regulatory and legislative issues, Android phones do not ship with the Google Play Store app, which has allowed a bunch of local app stores to flourish. These app stores together contribute a significant amount of revenues for developers, which when added to the official Google Play Store revenues, comfortably surpasses iOS in terms of overall revenues generated.
Another report, by Opera Mediaworks, found that in Q1, 2015, the entire Android ecosystem generated 45.8 percent of overall mobile ad revenues compared to 45.4 percent for iOS. This was the first time that Android had outperformed iOS, although, Apple has continued to generate much higher revenues than Google. This apparent dichotomy can be attributed to the sheer volumes of AOSP Android phones that are sold every year in China without access to official Google Apps.
As Android keeps gaining market share, app developers and advertisers, especially those outside the United States, are beginning to release the Android versions of their products either alongside or even ahead of the iOS versions – something unthinkable even three years ago. But the steady growth of Android to almost 80% of the overall smartphone market, and the stagnation of market share for Apple to below 20%, has created a perfect storm for the open source platform that has forced the hands of most developers and advertisers, which in turn has yielded more financial rewards than they themselves had thought possible. According to Mr. Rich Wong of Accel Partners, “This milestone (of Android surpassing iOS in terms of revenues) was inevitable considering the major volume advantage of Android. Developers ultimately have to go where the eyeballs are, and for global mobile eyeballs, Android is way out in front”.