Android vs. iOS: App Monetization, Impressions, and Market Share

Android apparatus held 87% of the global smartphone market in 20191 and Google’s operating system is expected to increase its share over Apple’s iOS throughout the next few years — a lead the business has been growing since 2012. As more Android devices are shipped around the world than ever before, such large levels of ownership have had an impact on the equilibrium of their in-app ecosystem. Q4 2019 data shows that of the 28 billion apps downloaded across both operating systems, 21 billion were on Android.2 Insights in the Smaato platform also reiterate the extensive reach of Android; the OS accounted for 79% of unique devices that interacted with the Smaato exchange in Q4 2019.

Google originally built its Android OS to maximize its device user base and to reach more people via search-based advertising (as the default mobile search engine). They also allowed any original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to get the platform and release apparatus that were pre-loaded using the software. While advertising was the objective of Google’s mobile strategy, Apple chose a different approach based on superior iOS devices and apps, with a focus on individual purchasing and high conversions. With both firms driving contrasting strategies to program monetization, let’s take a good look at how things stack up using insights from the Smaato platform.

On a global scale, Android might have an overwhelming share of apparatus reach and program downloads, but this doesn’t tell the complete story from the point of view of in-app advertising. Smaato data indicates that the share of in-app impressions by working system varies extensively in various regions, as illustrated in the graphs below. In the Americas, iOS has a stronger foothold in 47% of impressions, with Apple’s iPhone a more notable smartphone among users (60% of US smartphones owners utilize iOS). In the EMEA region, the share of impressions for iOS decreases to 40%. It is in APAC where Android truly shows its reach in device ownership, accounting for 74% of program impressions. Android’s dominance in APAC is driven by the availability and demand for lower-cost devices throughout many emerging markets.3

iOS vs. Android: Mobile App Categories

In regards to the app categories driving these impressions across both platforms, there are definite differences between iOS and Android. We have already found that Android devices account for the lion’s share of global app downloads, but which of those particular app categories are flourishing on Google Play along with the App Store? Q4 2019 data demonstrates that Android gaming programs account the the largest amount of downloads of the top 5 program categories — a huge 8.6 billion downloads in the last quarter of 2019 alone.4 On iOS, mobile games are also the largest category, but not quite as far ahead of other app types at 2.3 billion downloads. It’s a mixed picture for another app verticals; tools and communication programs are popular on Android highlighting the customizable features of this platform. On iOS, photography, entertainment, and shopping programs are a few of the top categories — hinting at the behavior and habits of iPhone users.

iOS Users Drive Ad Revenue

The company model surrounding Android apparatus has clearly secured the platform’s enormous reach and consumer base. However, Smaato data shows that iOS is actually the very rewarding and high-performing operating system for publishers and advertisers alike. Globally in Q4 2019, iOS users obtained over 2.5X as many ads per unique apparatus, and generated +162% higher ad spending a per-user basis. It’s not surprising that advertisers are willing to spend more on iOS programs — iPhone users spend on average over $30 per online transaction, compared to an average of $10 which Android users spend.5 Such user behavior ensures that Apple’s platform is ideal for advertisers seeking to generate ecommerce sales. It’s very good news for publishers too, as Smaato data shows that on average an iOS user generates over twice as much ad revenue than an Android user.

IOS and Android platforms have distinct characteristics and benefits to both advertisers and publishers. In their varying consumer base and program category usage, to the differences in regional device penetration, both operating systems provide different options whether you are an app developer with a specific monetization goal, or a new looking to connect with particular user demographics.

Android devices offer advertisers huge audiences and large-scale impressions — ideal for new building and maintaining a presence with customers. On the other hand, iOS devices can deliver high conversion campaigns to user groups that are valuable.

For publishers, developing apps for either operating system has its advantages, be it accumulating ad spend via large user bases on Android, or generating larger amounts of advertising revenue from precious iOS users. Or better still, cover all of the bases by developing your app for both!

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