Mobile Roadie: Celebs Like Android, Too


New and most existing customers of Mobile Roadie’s app maker platform are deploying on Android (s goog) equally with iOS (s aapl), though most are having difficulty making any thing close to the money they make from iOS apps.

Michael Schneider, CEO of Mobile Roadie, said new customers such as Taylor Swift, Linkin Park and Madonna are choosing to activate apps on Android and iOS equally since Mobile Roadie began supporting Android apps in February. While most customers are still seeing a lot more downloads of their apps on iOS (only 25 percent of hip-hop artist Drake’s apps are downloaded to Android devices), the Miami Dolphins football team actually has more downloads of its Android app than of its iOS version. Schneider said artists and brands are eager to reach the growing audience of Android users because “The tide is turning.”

Mobile Roadie has a good vantage point to compare iOS and Android apps and see which one of them has the best money-making prowess. The company, which enables customers to build and customize their own mobile apps, currently has about 1,200 apps: 800 on iPhone and 400 on Android, though most of the Android apps are duplicates of their iOS counterparts. Mobile Roadie works a lot with music artists who sell digital downloads, tickets, merchandise through their apps.

The lack of a richer ecosystem is where Android comes up short. Schneider said Taylor Swift made $40,000 in digital downloads through iTunes in the first week her iOS app was available. He said he doesn’t believe the Swift’s Android app has sold more than ten tracks, likely because Google doesn’t have its own music store. Overall, iOS apps, which Mobile Roadie launched in March of 2009, have resulted in digital download revenue well into the six figures, Schneider said, while Android apps are nowhere near six figures.

The issue, Schneider said, comes down to couple of things:

  • Android doesn’t have an iTunes equivalent, so artists must send their Android app users to services such as 7digital for downloads, requiring them to set up an account and enter in credit card information. It’s a barrier most don’t climb over. Some artists also send customers back to web pages that are not mobile-optimized and also require credit card information. Such barriers have helped build up a culture of less buying on Android. “It’s just easier to spend money on iPhone apps. [Spending money on Android] is not a user-friendly experience. It’s almost like putting up a brick wall,” Schneider said.
  • He said Android fragmentation also affects users. While 77 percent of Android users are on 2.2 or 2.1, there are still a sizable group of people running older operating systems that their carriers won’t update. Mobile Roadie supports back to Android 1.6 but there are still users on Android 1.5  (7.9 percent of current Android users) who can’t see its apps.

Schneider is hopeful that Google will launch a music store soon, making payments potentially easier for song downloads. It’s tough to replicate the success of Apple’s iTunes ecosystem, but his clients are still betting that Android will not only be big but lucrative soon.

“Once they solve the purchasing flow issues and make it as easy to sell as the iPhone, Android will be a major force,” he said.

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