Android vs iOS – Development, Monetization, Marketing

“People often panic when the markets go down and sell off their stocks – but then they aren’t in the game when the markets are doing well.” – Suze Orman

Is it me, or does it seem impossible to get straight answers when it comes to comparing these two markets?

Which makes more money? Should I port my game over Android? What’s the marketing like? All questions I asked myself and all questions that I keep seeing over and over.

I figured I should do an experiment and see what the real deal is. This wasn’t rocket science, but it did have some unique insights that will hopefully help someone of you out there wondering how to squeeze more out of this insane mobile gold rush.

Android – A Virus Made Of Money

The facts are pretty staggering. While all of us iOS app marketers have our heads buried in the latest App Store algorithm changes and churn and burn models, the rest of the world was buying Android phones (see article here). Android is crushing the overall market in volume – everyone and their sister seems to be adopting to Android via the savvy marketing of companies like Samsung and Google (Nexus).

Beyond the distribution side of it, the Google Play store (Apple App Store equivalent) now has just as many apps as Apple. Developer accounts are easy to set up, there is virtually no review time, and apps have fewer restrictions. It’s a market much more so than Apple is and has attracted a lot of really great talent.

Needless to say, I’m sick of ignoring this beast.

Justin Bieber Helped Me Understand Mobile Markets

Or something.

I needed to have a game engine that was the same for both platforms. I couldn’t buy one Android app from Apptopia then compare it to one of my iOS games – they had to be the same. Before I tackled this whole project, I had  the following assumptions:

  • iOS is where the dollars are (duh!)
  • Android is growing very quickly, especially outside the USA
  • Marketing is very different between the two for certain reasons
  • iOS heavily relies on chart volume

And so on. In a nutshell, I thought “iOS makes more money…but maybe not for long.”

The #1 conclusion I wanted to determine was about monetization – do Android apps make as much as iOS apps?

Before I begin, you need to know a few insights I have, as well as general observations.

1. The “monetization” gap that everyone talks about hinges on the payment systems – In-app purchases and paid downloads. This is why the entire gap exists and trickles across all other monetization strategies. Android apps aren’t necessarily worse, their users are just cheap compared to iOS users.

2. A huge percentage of in-app purchases and paid downloads on Android are refunded daily because of fraud. There’s a lot of hacking going on out there folks. Lock up your kids.

3. Google Play listings can be updated at any point, without review. You can edit everything and see the results. It’s more similar to SEO and web optimization than selecting keywords in Apple (the description is searchable in Google Play).

4. Google Play makes it very obvious that they care about NET installs. The number of people that un-install your game makes a difference.

Without further ado – let’s party.

Pack It Up, Pack It In, Let Me Begin

Here’s a general breakdown of the two games.


Name: Celeb Style Runner FREE – Dance With Justin Edition
Categories: Games-> Music, Racing
Monetization: Revmob, Chartboost, In-App Purchases


Name: Justin Bieber Is Gangnam Style
Categories: Games-> Arcade & Action

Answers the questions I know you are asking right now:

1. No Revmob in Android. Why? Because install rates are extremely low on Android for some reason. I called a few large Android companies about this and they all said the same thing. I had it in there when I launched, but took it out after the first 1,500 impressions with 1 install.

2. Title. I originally named the iOS “Justin Bieber Goes Gangnam Style” but it was rejected for various trademark reasons.

3. Categories. I’m confident in knowing the iOS categories, but have little understanding of how it affects Android volume. I researched a lot of other apps and chose this one. Originally I had it as Racing until I realized all the other games people installed/viewed were CSR Racing type games.

4. No IAP on Android. It would have been a pain in the ass to integrate the IAP on Android and I really wasn’t trying to make this a big project. So I just dropped it.

Dude. What Happened?

So check this out – here’s a snapshot at the Android campaigns vs iOS campaigns that have the same basic pricing tiers on Chartboost.

iOS Chartboost Metrics

Android Chartboost Metrics 


Now, here’s a snapshot at download volume:

iOS Downloads (from launch) 

Android Downloads (from launch)


Woah! Cool! Wait…WTF does all this mean?

I’ll let you deduce your own conclusions since I know a lot of the people that read this blog are really smart, but I still want to distill a few key conclusions that this test taught me.

1. eCPM is similar across these platforms for Chartboost. Granted, those iOS numbers are based on other apps as well, but the averages are what matter. In the grand scheme of things, there is nothing overly awful about either and thus can conclude that Chartboost may be a viable monetization platform for both iOS and Android.

2. Like most iOS games, the launch spikes, dies, then goes away. Android has a much longer and flatter curve. This is based on the charts and their power on iOS. Of course, this is only 2 weeks so I don’t think I am in any position to make full conclusions here, but from talking to others it seems that having great publishing (especially great copywriting) on Android can have a much more positive long term effect than trying to select perfect keywords on iOS.

3. Install Rates are much better on Android. This shocked me…until I started using my Samsung Galaxy. The SDK integrations are doing what the iOS StoreKit framework SHOULD be doing – opening the store while the game runs in the background.

You know how when you click on an ad in an iPhone or iPad game, it leaves the game and has to open the app store? Then you close the app store to go back to the game? In Android it’s much more seamless. Less time and less actions for the user means more revenue.

The rest – I’ll let you decipher. Leave comments with your experience or questions for everyone to see.

Lastly (and probably what you’re all wondering)……

Should I Develop My Game On Android?

Here’s a basic equation to answer that:

a) Cost of iOS app * 0.5 = Cost of porting to Android

If (net revenue from Chartboost) > (Cost of porting to Android) -> Do it.

50% is a ballpark cost I see for developers to move an iOS app to Android. Based on my test, if I make enough money on the iOS version to justify the cost of developing that app, then awesome. This does not take into account Lifetime Value (LTV), so make sure that revenue isn’t just from your launch.

Also remember you’ll have to learn how to manage a whole new developer account, new publishing dashboard, and marketing strategy. I personally find that really exciting, but it can also be a LOT to take in at once.

Most importantly, ask yourself if it’s worth it to make an Android version of your game, or create a new re-skin on iOS (similar cost). 

From The Horse’s Mouth

One of the benefits of being in San Francisco is that I get to meet all the awesome people that are part of the mobile gaming community. I went down to the Chartboost offices to catch up with Nate and hear about what they’re up to. We ran through a few optimization techniques and also chatted briefly about Android.

What he said was pretty much on par with this – Android monetization through their network is almost up to iOS. In certain overseas markets like Brazil, the market is growing incredibly fast and thus the bids are increasing (meaning higher eCPMs for all of us).

Additionally, there’s a lot of upside left for Android. After walking through Chartboost’s office and seeing what these guys are up to, it’s safe to say that this is the tip of the iceberg.

Always remember – when there’s a market as massive as Android, someone’s going to figure out how to monetize it well.

So – hopefully that gives some info to anyone wondering about if the Android market is worth it. I think yes if your app can monetize via Chartboost and IAPs well.


Keep kicking ass!





  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 1, 2013


    I’ve heard about cocos2d-x. Looks sweet.

    That’s all keyword/icon/screenshot sizzle. I don’t really do the Paid->Free thing anymore. I’m not sure it works like it used to…

    Not sure what to tell you about your eCPM question. Yes it matters.


  • Lars B February 4, 2013

    Hi Carter,

    Thanks for sharing this info with us, great reading!
    I’m about to publish a free game (with in-app) in a couple of weeks. Do you
    recommend CB or Revmob nowadays? :)

    Also, with CB, do I have to spend money to earn money? As in advertise my own games, to be allowed to advertise others.


  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 4, 2013

    Hey Lars,

    Both networks have their benefits. Revmob pays more but annoys users more, Chartboost has flexibility but pays less.

    No, you don’t have to spend anything. It’s all gravy, baby!


  • Brian C February 4, 2013

    Carter, you’re killing me!

    I just read your last post. I’ve been working on an app turned pc game turned casino game for months. This town ain’t big enough for both of us! lol

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 4, 2013

    Haha no worries Brian. Winners win in this market, plain and simple. Doesn’t matter how many people show up, winners always win.

    See you at the top.


  • B. Campbell February 5, 2013

    You’re right. The key is to have a great idea and never give up. Good ideas are hard to come by though, I’m lucky to have two at the moment that have never been done before. Were all your apps your own ideas?

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 6, 2013

    Nope. I’d say about 10% of them were. I just executed better.

  • Kristjan February 7, 2013

    Hi Carter!

    Actually you can download straight from the ad already on iOS ( as you describe about the android).

    From Chartboost changelog:

    Added support for the iOS 6 App Sheet so your users can download apps without ever leaving your app! You must include StoreKit.framework for access to the App Sheet. We are rolling out this feature in phases, apply for access via

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas February 10, 2013

    Radical. Good to know.

  • Sonali Srivastava February 11, 2013

    Loved the post..But I want to add some points into it like Pre & Post Launch Marketing strategy which I have discussed in my posts @ ….. Would love to have your comments and feedback to make my post more interesting and useful

  • sumit kher March 20, 2013

    This is very inspiring, as getting from the start & Having no real background in programming (aside from making some adventures on ZX-81 and MSX), this does sound like I could get started on developing something for my own Android based eBook reader and android app development training even this online course seems to be interesting Has anyone tried any online courses so far. Please do provide a light on this also.

    Thankyou for all the info also.

  • Chris D March 21, 2013


    I have a pretty solid idea for an app. I have a degree in MIS but do not have very much experience programming yet, especially for mobile environments.

    Where the hell would you suggest that I start? Do most people in this situation hire some sort of development team/firm? I am very open to trying to get it done myself, but acknowledge that I may not know what I am getting myself into, and also want the app to be done right the first time.

    Thanks for any suggestions you can provide,


  • Steve April 5, 2013

    Hi Carter,
    I have an idea for an app but first wanted to check and see what kinds of competition there might be for it. Is there a way to efficiently sort through the tens of thousands of apps to identify those which may have already implemented my idea?



  • Dustin June 20, 2013

    Nice Article, although I’m a bit confused on the stats at the bottom.

    How from only 20k ish downloads on iOS did you have 3 million impressions?
    Those numbers from ChartBoost boggle my mind.

    Or is that just a placeholder image?
    I’m just curious as that is an insane amount of user retention.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas June 21, 2013

    @Dustin – Apples and oranges. The Chartboost data is for the entire month and the download data is for a week or so. Even still, the retention was nuts on some of those games, way beyond anything I was expecting.

  • Lee Wright July 24, 2013

    Great cast of designers here. Nice post.

  • Nishu September 27, 2013

    Android Developer? StartApp offers the best app monetization and now you get a great sign up bonus!
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    Also there is new loyalty program till 30 Sept 2013.
    Get over 1,000 downloads & 10,000 ad impressions —————$100
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  • Nathan October 1, 2013

    Um, StartApp may be illegal with the latest guidelines from Google Play, so read what Nishu says with caution.

  • amadi great October 24, 2013

    hello carter i have this app idea but i am more of a green horn in the app developing and monetization. i will want to request for your expertise as a coach. send me a reply message.

  • Patrick November 9, 2013

    Its nuts how often I do a search relating to mobile developement and land on your site. Great job. And congrats on selling your apps for a staggering amount. Would like to see a post on how that was executed.

  • Akhaumere Allen May 17, 2014

    Is there any way one can tell if he or she idea will sell? Thanks.

  • Ratnesh June 1, 2015

    Great post! IOS development online training enables you to learn & understand coders which are new to IOS development with the right knowledge to start creating fully-fledged apps on their own. Also, you will learn how to work with X-code 6, the tool used for developing debugging and deploying applications to the App Store and you will use Objective-C language to program your applications.

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