While venture capitalists, research firms and media outlets like to point out the rise of Android in terms of shipments and subscribers, transparency around real revenue numbers is few and far between for the platform’s developers.
Glu Mobile, which had its first quarter earnings call yesterday, gave a few more specifics on exactly how Android is comparing to iOS on the revenue front. It said its portfolio of Android titles is making about one-eighth to one-tenth of what its iOS titles are raking in.
Glu Mobile is likely in the best position of any developer to understand what relative revenues on both platforms really look like for developers, especially if they’re using a freemium model for monetization. Glu has had 70.2 million downloads to date on Android and iOS, with 29 titles available in Android Market, 50 on the iOS app store for the iPhone and 18 available iPad titles.
Glu was also among the very first developers to implement in-app billing when Google rolled out the payments ability to consumers at the end of last quarter. So the company has early statistics on conversion rates for in-app payments on iOS and Android.
The company is also not an outlier like Angry Birds-maker Rovio Mobile, which told us that its Android and iOS revenues had reached parity back in March. Rovio is hardly representative of the average game developer; at the time of its funding, Angry Birds’ advertising inventory was the size of AdMob’s entire inventory in 2008.
Even though Android is gaining momentum in terms of total reach, revenues are still lagging behind for a number of reasons. It’s partly because 1) the payments experience on Android Market is still not as frictionless as it is on iOS, 2) Android’s total footprint is still smaller than iOS when all devices from iPods to phones to tablets are taken into account and 3) Apple, which sells the highest margin devices, probably attracts consumers with more discretionary income who are more willing to pay for apps or buy virtual currency in games.
A few other developers have shared relative revenue numbers with us. DeNA-owned Gameview Studios told us when they passed 500,000 installs of Tap Fish on Android that they were seeing ARPU (average revenue per user) on the platform at 50 to 70 percent of iOS through using direct pay with Google Checkout. That ratio is unusually high based on conversations we’ve had with other developers. It may be reflective of weaker monetization on iOS as it’s been awhile since Gameview pushed a title into the top 50 grossing apps, according to AppAnnie.