Android, as we’ve reported before, is still not as lucrative a platform as iOS for developers. But the gap is closing and for at least one developer, Android is sometimes outperforming iOS when comparing the same app.
Gameview Studios said its popular Tap Fish App, which has been downloaded more than 10 million times on iOS and 5 million times on Android, often has comparable average revenue per user (ARPU) between the two platform on most days and on some days, the ARPU on Android is 30 percent higher on Android than iOS. That reflects a couple of things that distinguish Android from iOS and suggests that other developers may also be able to close the revenue gap between iOS and Android.
Gameview’s VP of Revenue Jim Rainey said when you look at purchases within the app–the primary revenue model for a freemium game like Tap Fish–the Android version is still a little behind iOS but has made considerable progress since earlier this year. But the Android version benefits when it comes to revenue because it can utilize incentivized installs, an ad unit that allows a user to gain virtual goods or currency in a game in exchange for downloading an app from an advertiser. Apple banned the use of incentivized installs in April out of apparent concern it was a way of gaming the App Store rankings. But it’s still in use on Android.
And that is helping generate a good amount of revenue for Android developers who employ incentivized installs. I’ve heard privately that Apple’s ban has cut out a significant amount of revenue from iOS developers, who are having to make do with other less lucrative alternatives. So in some ways, Android is just catching up to iOS because Google hasn’t come down on incentivized installs the way Apple has. But it’s a difference that is meaningful for developers looking to make money off Android.
Rainey said the difference is also in the hardware and what developers can do on Android. Recently, Tap Fish implemented Android’s live wallpaper feature, allowing users to make the game an interactive wallpaper for their phone home screen. Though the interactive elements are limited, it allows the developer to keep their game top of mind for a user and invites them to play more often. Tap Fish users play about 10 to 15 times a day on Android. And the game has taken the top spot in the live wallpaper category for free apps in Android Market.
“There are two points: Part of the total ARPU is the multiple revenue lines from incentivized installs and it’s also Android’s specific capabilities,” Rainey said. “Live wallpaper has been a big success. It’s increased user engagement with the game. And that can drive higher monetization.”
Rainey said there’s no guarantee that developers will see similar success on Android. But the revenue situation on Android is a lot better, he said, than when Gameview first started porting titles to Android from iOS at the beginning of the year. And he expects it will only get better for developers as Android grows.
I think Android still has a ways to go, but it’s great to see that developers are finding it more lucrative than it was previously to build on the platform. And I think that it underscores how different the iOS and Android platforms are. Some of the things that make iOS so polished–a great store and easy in-app purchase experience–really lend themselves to making more money for developers. But there are advantages to Android too, like a more lenient approach to advertising and more hardware accessibility for developers, which can also make a difference too. Keeping this in mind is one way to help developers bring in more money from Android.