Googles Android delivers less gain and more pain for application developers, compared with Apples iOS, says a June 7 report from analytics firm Flurry. The news comes as Apple prepares for 2012 World Wide Developers Conference, which starts June 11.
Apple and Google, with their competing platforms, represent one of the more dramatic rivalries in an industry where developer support can determine the winners and losers. Flurry offers analytics, and so is an early stop for developers before they ship an app. With its unique inside view into developer initiatives, it reports that for every 10 apps that developers build, roughly 7 are for iOS.
Additionally tracking 36 billion end-user sessions across more than 500 million devices each month, Flurry offers three explanations for the developers preference for Apple. The first is an avoidance of the frustration of dealing with Androids fragmentation.
Androids newest and more advanced version, 4.0, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, is currently used by only 7 percent of devices, according to May data from Flurry. The majority of Android-running devices70 percentare running Gingerbread, which is two incarnations behind. (Googles dessert-themed versions are alphabetical.) Even Froyo, which came before Gingerbread, currently has more users (at 16 percent) than the Honeycomb (2 percent) and Ice Cream Sandwich updates that followed Gingerbread.
In short, the majority of Android devices are running on operating systems that are three to four iterations old. Moreover, with Samsung, Motorola, HTC and Amazon all supporting the OS, both device and firmware contribute to fragmentation, said Flurry.
Also working in Apples favor is the iPad, for which there is no real Android counterpart, in terms of usage.
Flurry tracked worldwide user sessions on tablets during the first five months of the year and found 88 percent of them were on iPads. Another 9 percent of users were on Samsung Galaxy Tabs, and the Amazon Kindle Firewhich sold astonishingly well during the holidays, but then saw numbers drop off dramaticallyaccounted for another 3 percent of users.
Not only does Apple offer a large, homogenous smartphone base for which to build software, but also when developers build for smartphones, their apps run on Apples iPad tablets as well, states the report. Thats like getting two platforms for the price of one.
Flurry calls Apples build once, run anywhere value proposition a compelling one, though thats to gloss over the fact that while iPhone apps run on the iPad, many arent, or havent always been, optimized for it.
Finally, theres the motivation that drives so much of business: money. Comparing the revenue generated by the top apps on both platforms, Flurry found the developers who got behind Apple to be earning more than four times that of Android backers.
For every $1 a developer earns on iOS, he can expect to earn about $0.24 on Android, said the report. These results mirror earlier findings from similar analysis Flurry conducted [during the fourth quarter] of 2011 and [the first quarter] of 2012.
Microsoft made headlines in April, when The New York Times reported that Windows-maker was paying developers to create apps for its new platform. That the developers shouldnt organically flock to a budding ecosystem makes perfect sense; what matters is whether theyll show up once the ecosystem has a significant user base.
At the end of the day, developers run businesses, said the Flurry report, and businesses seek out markets where revenue opportunities are highest and cost of building and distributing is lowest.
In addition to competing for consumers, Apple and Google this month, as they host their respective developer conferences, will need to woo a workforce that can largely impact the fate of some of the most prolific, innovative forces in the worlds economy today, states the Flurry report.
Apple and Google combined, it adds, have a market cap of $750 billion.