iPhone customers still way more valuable than Android customers

App Store on iPhone
App Store on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

Creative Strategies in general and Carolina Milanesi and Ben Bajarin in specific do amazing work when it comes to putting numbers to Apple and other industry trends. In other words, where discussion so often revolves around opinions informed and otherwise, they bring the data. Case in point, how and why people spend money on apps.

From Techpinions:

Interestingly, when it comes to paid apps, the leading drivers remain the same for both groups but only after the price of the app itself. I find this point interesting because it would suggest that smartphone users are not assessing the return of investment they would get from an app but they might, instead, be putting a limit to how much they are prepared to spend before they look beyond the price in what the app has to offer. In other words, great reviews, feature list, screenshots, and app description do not matter if the price is already beyond what the user perceives to be the right price for the app.

But, not surprisingly:

Our study confirms the gap between the two app stores quite clearly: the number of iOS panelists with 5 or more paid apps or subscription was 45% compared to 19% across Android panelists.

You can, of course, choose to view this as iPhone owners being more foolish or reckless with their money, but from an app vendor point-of-view, none of that matters. You can also argue that, in aggregate, the bigger Android market share results in value at scale.

Still, despite Android being the market leader by combined volume, Apple remains the profit leader, and many apps and services still launch iPhone-first, and some remain iPhone-only.

The reasons for that are complex, as the survey points out.

I've come to view paid apps as an investment. I want a specific feature or service and I pay to make sure the developer can keep it available and updated long term.

It's like paying to see a movie not just because you want to see the movie, but because you want to support the artists who made it in hopes they'll keep making sequels and other movies for you to enjoy. (Substitute songs, books, or whatever else you choose to spend money on.)

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • What's missing in this reporting is whether or not iPhone and Android users are presented with an equal amount of opportunities to purchase apps. I've switched to a Pixel 2 since last fall, and I just find that I don't encounter paid apps as often on Android. This is especially true with games. It seems like Android app developers rely more heavily on advertising, and I rarely get an opportunity to even pay to remove the ads. There are a few games I would gladly pay for if I could disable them. So personally I think it's not that I'm less willing to pay for things on Android, it's that Android is less willing to give me opportunities to take my money. I do the same things on my Android phone as my iPhone, and I'm the same person.
  • There should always be a way to remove ads, I would never use an app or game if I was forced to see ads. Sounds more like **** developers to me. Apple News is a slight exception, given they're unintrusive, and don't drain battery
  • This may be a chicken and egg thing. Possibly Android developers have found their target won't pay for apps up front, so advertising is the way to make money. I see numerous apps in the Android store that have two forms, App and App Plus, the former being ad supported and the latter having a price, no ads and sometimes more features. Generally in the paid version, a good percentage of the reviews say it should be free. How dare people charge for their efforts.
  • Most likely the apps are designed the way they are because Android users refuse to pay.
  • This is likely the case. It's controversial, but piracy is also rife on Android, you just enable installing applications from unknown sources then find the APK file online, and boom you have a paid app for free. The situation is far more difficult on iOS, unless you're jailbroken
  • If I download a free app, find I use it a lot, and there is a paid version; the majority of the time I will use the paid app. It helps a lot for me (on Android anyway) that I use the Rewards app to generate Play credit by answering questions. I currently have over $11 in Play credit, and have earned a total of $166 since I first signed up.