We’ve heard plenty of times in the past about how Android doesn’t make as much money for developers as iOS, and some examples raised valid points, like the fact that there are not as many Google Wallet/Checkout users as there are iTunes account users. Therefore in theory, fewer people bother to pay for an app. There were also some very misleading ones that used data from 2010, when Android was still much smaller in quarterly sales, but even more importantly in total user base, and the data used is somehow supposed to prove that Android is not making money for developers now.
First off, I still believe the Play Store hasn’t reached the same level of monetization as the Apple app store, and the difference is still significant on average, but I also think that the Play Store has come a long way to help developers make money off their apps. Now, it’s important to remember, that just like in any other type of market, most developers will not make any money from their apps, some will barely break even, and only around 20% or so will actually get rich from their apps. This goes for books, music, movies, you name it. It’s the way the world works. Only the best/most promoted content makes money.
For some of the top developers, though, like the Angry Birds maker, Rovio, and DeNA’s Rage of Bahamut, which is currently the #1 grossing developer in both Google’s and Apple’s stores, both the ecosystems are making around the same amount of money for the developers. It’s important to note though, that Rage of Bahamut is a free-to-play game (on iOS also). This might lead to the insight that if you want to make as much money from Android as you do from iOS, you need to offer your app for free, and make money from ads (like Angry Birds) or in-app purchases like Rage of Bahamut.
At least for now, this is probably the way to go. The players who are really interested in buying content in this game will take a few moments of their time to make a Google Wallet account. Unfortunately, at least until ICS makes up a majority of the Android devices, most Android users will not even know what a Google Wallet account is, and therefore they will not pay for apps.
With ICS you get asked from the moment you set-up your phone, to make a Google Wallet account, which you can still skip if you want, but it’s also a great incentive for many people to make their account then. Later they can start buying apps with just a push of a button. I think this is Apple’s big advantage for now in monetizing apps, and until ICS gets a lot more than only 7% market share, things will remain about the same. The simple fact that Android is still growing twice as fast as iOS will help push those numbers in Google’s favor, thanks to the sheer amount of Android users that will exist in the future (right now each having around ~350 million users).