Apple Apps Favored Over Android by Developers: Flurry

Apple apps account for 7 out of 10 new apps built by developers, who find it simpler, more lucrative and, given the iPad, more bonus-packed than developing for Android, says a new report.

Google€™s Android delivers €œless gain and more pain€ for application developers, compared with Apple€™s 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 €œfor 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 Android€™s fragmentation.

Android€™s 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 devices€”70 percent€”are running Gingerbread, which is two incarnations behind. (Google€™s 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, €œboth device and firmware contribute to fragmentation,€ said Flurry.

Also working in Apple€™s 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 Fire€”which sold astonishingly well during the holidays, but then saw numbers drop off dramatically€”accounted for another 3 percent of users.

€œNot 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 Apple€™s iPad tablets as well,€ states the report. €œThat€™s like getting two platforms for the price of one.€

Flurry calls Apple€™s €œbuild once, run anywhere€ value proposition a compelling one, though that€™s to gloss over the fact that while iPhone apps run on the iPad, many aren€™t, or haven€™t always been, optimized for it.

Finally, there€™s 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.

€œFor every $1 a developer earns on iOS, he can expect to earn about $0.24 on Android,€ said the report. €œThese 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 shouldn€™t organically flock to a budding ecosystem makes perfect sense; what matters is whether they€™ll show up once the ecosystem has a significant user base.

€œAt the end of the day, developers run businesses,€ said the Flurry report, €œand 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 €œcan largely impact the fate of some of the most prolific, innovative forces in the world€™s economy today,€ states the Flurry report.

Apple and Google combined, it adds, have a market cap of $750 billion.

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