It is no secret that both Google and Android developers makes money with Android. Granted, they don’t charge for it out of the box like some operating systems do. However, they still find ways to draw a little money out of it. What is interesting is that each new version of Android manages to get a higher ARPU. For those who don’t know, ARPU is Average Revenue Per User.

So what does this mean exactly? Well, aside from the tablet only Honeycomb, how much money a user generates for applications has been trending upward. This goes back as far as Android Astro, for all nine people out there who have heard of Android Astro.

Back then, the ARPU was a mere $0.20 per person. As of Jelly Bean, the rates have jumped to $1.63 per person. This is according to a study done by Tapjoy.

This means that if you want to make the most money per person off of an Android app, your best bet would be to make an application that’s compatible with Jelly Bean. However, there is some context here. Even though Jelly Bean users generate the most revenue per person, there really aren’t that many people running Jelly Bean.

According to the chart above, more than half of all Android owners are still running Gingerbread 2.3.x. Second to that is FroYo, with about one in every five users running it. So even though Jelly Bean generates more money per person than these outdated versions, there are way more people who aren’t running Jelly Bean.


So which version of Android should developers develop for?

Ostensibly, all of them. many Android applications have a minimum OS requirement. You could make an app that’s compatible with Jelly Bean but still runs on FroYo. That would, of course, be your best plan if you were trying to make money.

However, for the sake of hypothetical situations, if you were to develop for just one version, logic and Tapjoy agree that it be Gingerbread. It doesn’t make as much per person, but there are a whole lot more people running it.

If Google ever gets this fragmentation problem fixed, these higher monetization rates for developers could be a big deal. An extra $0.40 or $0.50 per person may not seem like a lot, but when we’re talking millions of downloads, we’re talking millions of dollars too. It’s all about the context. Android developers, what OS do you predominately develop for?

Joe Hindy
Hi everyone! I'm Joe Hindy the Android Authority app guy!
  • Generally the Android enthusiast are more likely to purchase apps that the typical user so this makes sense. For instance, pretty much any app that takes advantage of expanded notifications I will purchase in a heartbeat simply because it’s one of the most awesome new features of JB, and I want to support the devs who work hard to support new features.

  • Jon Langevin

    I’d like to see a similar printout for iOS. Everyone goes on about Android fragmentation, but you rarely see the same info for iOS’ fragmentation, though it exists, despite being a closed system.

    I know when I got my HTC G1, I only looked for freebies. Since then, the quality of apps have been improving greatly, making it quite logical to buy apps (esp to avoid ads).

    One other thing to consider though, is that devices running 4.1, are generally newer (higher end) devices, which usually suggests each user paid a higher cost per device, which would further suggest that each user is likely in a higher income bracket (or devotes more of their income to their mobile devices than an average person), so you likely would see more app revenue in that demographic.

    • Kassim

      Personally, I don’t buy the higher income bracket angle.

      Not sure about everyone else but, I’m as skint now as I’ve ever been – the main reason that I have a JB device is because of the astonishing value of the Nexus 7 (probably the same for many people who are running JB).

      It cost me far less than my first Android device last year – a refurbished Desire S!!

      I’ve bought tonnes more apps since I got the N7 mainly due to buying games and other apps that enhance functionality e.g. wifi file transfer, sixaxis controller etc.

      In short, for me at least, it’s far more compelling to buy apps for my N7 because it’s a device for the pure pleasure of enjoying the best of Android. Phones are communication devices first, Android consumption tools second…

      • Jon Langevin

        Dunno, my income has been improving over past 10 years, and as that occurred, my bootlegging has decreased, and completely stopped in past 2 years. Then my income level doubled this year, at which point I now buy new devices and content all the time.

        Income definitely helps.

  • MasterMuffin

    What happened between Astro and Cupcake? Where’s the letter “B” !?

    • Jon Langevin


      • MasterMuffin


    • There was no letter B, lettering started with Cupcake, before that there was Petit Four, and before that there was a milestone called Astro Boy in early development, but no A and B desserts.

      • MasterMuffin

        No banana split!? :okay: :(

    • Siddharth Shankar

      That Was “Bender”