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!


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