What we say

Android Market Payouts Total 2% of App Store’s $1B

During the WWDC keynote, a landmark statistic was revealed, namely that $1 Billion has been paid out to developers for their 70% cut on paid apps on the iTunes Store. This immediately led us to wonder how much money has been paid out to Android developers. The Android Market with support for paid apps became available about six months later than the iTunes App Store (Feb 2009 vs. July 2008). Also, at that time there were far fewer Android users than iPhone/iPod Touch. However, that gap has begun to close with 60+ different Android devices available and selling in higher quantities than the iPhone as of Q1 2010.

It is possible to get a reasonably good estimate of the amount of money paid out to developers on Android, as the range of sales is presented for each app in the market (ie. “1000-5000 downloads”). Using this as well some random sampling techniques, we are able to get an estimate that we think is accurate within a range of about 20%. However, we generally over-estimated numbers so as to be conservative in our comparison with the iTunes Store.

We pulled the relevant data from AndroidZoom.

Results

Overall (as of June 18th, 2010), there were roughly 2,250 paid games and 13,000 paid non-game apps in the Market. The reason for the large number of apps vs. games is mainly due to the proliferation of spam apps, something which is much rarer in the games category. 4 games are in the 50,000-250,000 range, while 9 apps are in the 50,000-250,000 range. No paid app or game has yet exceeded 250,000 sales. Approximately 60 apps were in the 10,000-50,000 sales range, compared to approximately 45 games. It continues from there, with the vast majority of apps and games falling in to the ignominious “less than 50″ bucket.

Overall we estimate that $6,000,000 has been paid out to developers for games, and $15,000,000 has been paid out on apps. That is a total of $21,000,000, nearly 1/50th the amount paid out to devs on iPhone.

This really indicates how much of a cottage industry the paid Android Market remains, with insufficient sales numbers to warrant full-time labor for paid content. Other approaches, such as ad-supported apps, may prove to be more sustainable.

The green bars indicate the number of apps in each bucket, while the purple bars indicate the total estimated amount of money earned by apps in that bucket.


  1. 1
    Phil Jackson on 06/21/10 at 17:12:57

    Thing is, who is making that money on the Apple store? How much is going to big companies like EA who charge $10 for a game? Compared to a smaller company who only charges $2. Not arguing against or for, but I’d like to see that breakdown.

  2. 2
    mario on 06/22/10 at 02:46:59

    did you factor in the percentage of free to paid apps? also the quality of apps is still rather poor especially with games on android which is probably why alot less people are buying them.

  3. 3
    Er Lern on 06/22/10 at 04:15:19

    I agree with Phil here… we are still lacking some breakdowns which would help us see how far and real the gap is between the two. Of course Apple has the lead for now, but just a number without actual breakdowns will not help analyse the situation well.

  4. 4
    BillyBadass on 06/22/10 at 14:50:05

    While the Android market is still small you have to admit that it is a growing market segment. There is no where to go but up and the development of cross platform games can’t be that cumbersome.

    You should look into expanding your revenue streams outside the Android and Apple markets. Build a forum for your game apps, sell advertising on the forum. Offer exclusive in-game branding. I would love to crush my enemies in battle for mars with a Pepsi themed robot. Or just sell updates and add-ons to your games outside the markets.

  5. John Watkinson on 06/22/10 at 15:21:20

    @Phil and @Er: We don’t have access to any breakdowns on the iTunes, but by looking at the top 100 apps in the App Store, it can be seen that small, independent developers represent the overwhelming majority. Also, large game studios such as Glu and EA are present on both the iPhone and Android platforms.

  6. John Watkinson on 06/22/10 at 15:28:29

    @mario: Yes, only paid apps were counted in the estimates. The quality issue may be a chicken/egg scenario. It appears as though many of the best Android efforts to date have not been rewarded. So, why would a studio want to put in enormous investment to make a high-quality product when there is no precedent for success? This then results in many of the apps being produced by part-time developers without the time or resources to invest in quality artwork, play-testing/QA, etc. That in turn may contribute to driving down the overall consumer sentiment for the Android Market. Finally, it is extraordinarily hard for a small studio to achieve a good experience over all of the devices in the large and heterogeneous Android ecosystem, especially for games. So, the quality issue an important one, no doubt.

  7. John Watkinson on 06/22/10 at 15:31:05

    @Billy: Thanks for the points and encouragement!

  8. 5
    Alvin on 06/22/10 at 17:39:50

    I think it is worth noting also that paid applications are still not available in some countries. I really wonder what’s slowing Google down.

  9. 6
    addicted on 06/22/10 at 23:09:23

    An easy way to estimate the money earning potential of the iOS ecosystem vs. the Android ecosystem is the presence of CPK.

    They started the original iFund, and were impressed enough to expand to the iPad.

    Additionally, many iPhone app developers are getting VC funding externally.

    Not heard of many Android only developers having reached that level yet.

  10. 7
    Bill on 06/22/10 at 23:21:42

    A more meaningful analysis would be to look at revenue per capita (# of devices sold).

  11. 8
    Diesel Mcfadden on 06/22/10 at 23:54:40

    Are you finding this comparison holds with the actual revenue opportunity you’re personally experiencing on the respective platforms? Thanks for the posting the analysis!

  12. 9
    Richard Stacpoole on 06/23/10 at 01:33:41

    John,
    Could you label your graphs? I am confused about which color represent what.
    Thanks.

  13. 10
    Blain on 06/23/10 at 02:13:50

    > development of cross platform games can’t be that cumbersome

    It’s not about cross platform. It’s about which platforms have similar assumptions. Let’s take something like a racing game that had some success in the console arena, and thus, would be written in C, C++, and using OpenGL.

    The Android NDK is only 1 year old, and looks like it’s still missing a few things, as it doesn’t mention the stability of the network stack (I assume you have to write C/Java wrappers for that?)

    OS fragmentation is a very real problem. Only as of today is there an iPhone that can’t run the latest OS, and that phone stopped shipping 2 years ago. And even then, the 3-year old phones running 3.x can run OpenGL ES 2.0. I can still get a T-Mobile G1 today that’s stuck at 1.6, meaning OpenGL ES 1.1 at best.

    Add in the differing screen sizes, differing hardware buttons and keyboard, none of which are issues on the iPhone, Gameboy, or PSP, and porting a game from a handheld console to the Android becomes VERY nontrivial compared to the iPhone.

  14. 11
    Hamranhansenhansen on 06/23/10 at 04:52:01

    > selling in higher quantities than the iPhone as of Q1 2010.

    This was debunked. What actually happened is Verizon’s 2-for-1 sale caused all 60 Android devices collectively to outsell iPhone for a day, then that was extrapolated over a whole quarter. If it were true, where are the devices? Look at website logs and app sales, these devices are not out there. Look around you on a train. They’re not out there. Even if they were, if you’re collectively looking at Android and want honest numbers then compare to iOS, include iPad and iPod, because they run the same apps.

    75% of Android is v1.6 devices that are Android in name only. They won’t be upgraded, the users aren’t buying apps. The market for developers is much, much smaller. And Java is a significant barrier when so much of the world’s client code is C that runs easily on iOS. Android developers have to work much harder for a much smaller prize.

  15. 12
    Robert Cooper on 06/23/10 at 05:02:47

    “Also, large game studios such as Glu and EA are present on both the iPhone and Android platforms.”

    One problem is the large game company games on Android tend to suck because of the Java language. That is, most of those games are crappy ports of JavaME code to Android without taking advantage of the platform, or in a lot of cases, even getting the input metaphors right. It really can’t be expressed how crappy many of these games are, and really, many of the free games are much much better. Even the smaller shop games seem to suffer from this.

  16. 13
    Ken Krane on 06/23/10 at 07:51:27

    There’s another dynamic at work as well. The Apple AppStore’s enormous lead will be very difficult for Android to ever dent because users who have invested in iPhone Apps are not going to change to Android and simply abandon their investment. Also, Apple’s overseas marketing and penetration is incredible – particularly in comparison to Googles hamstrung efforts.

    The problem also is that only one company, Apple, is responsible for marketing and production whereas Android requires several partners to chip in as they represent the hardware. The phone handset companies will never get their act together to compete with the Cupertino juggernaut.

    I’m no Apple fan but ‘might makes right’ and there’s nothing to suggest that that the Android platform is going to get a respite from the pummeling it’s getting. But there’s one thing Google does extremely well and that’s their outreach program to developers. They really take the time to solicit vendors and help them get started on the platform – often sending free phones and material. Of course, given the dearth of titles, they can afford to spend the time.

    This match seems over before it begins.

  17. 14
    Narayanan on 06/23/10 at 09:10:47

    @Hamranhansenhansen

    Agree with your analysis of the Q1 Android misstimates ;-)
    At the end of the day it is all about general public who want a hassle free experience vs. Tinkerers.

    I also like to tinker around and sometimes get a little frustrated with Apple, but I can see the long term benefits of the controlled ecosystem that brings order after a chaotic era of Windows.

  18. 15
    Pete on 06/23/10 at 09:34:29

    @Hamranhansenhansen your figure for Android 1.6 is way off. They make up 25% of handsets visiting the market, 50% are on the latest 2.1 and the figures have been rapidly changing recently suggesting (in conjunction with various handset maker announcements) that you’re also wrong about them not being upgraded. Your figure would have been correct, assuming you meant 1.6 or lower, just 6 weeks ago, it will be interesting to see where we are in another 6 weeks.

  19. 16
    Tomáš Hubálek on 06/23/10 at 14:36:31

    Lack of money on Android Market is definitely significant issue. Majority of countries of the world can’t buy and sell, mobile ads are annoying and don’t generate significant revenue (according people that tried it).

    I would really consider whether to invest to development of something expensive if there is not known business model for given platform.

    Google have to say: Android will be ads based or Android will be Android Market based or we will allow both methods to coexist.

    If I were non US company thinking about big project I would consider different platform.

  20. 17
    jbelkin on 06/23/10 at 16:50:14

    The facts are that Google only developed the phone to make sure they were the defacto mobile search, the rest they could care less about – they didn’t even develop UNIVERSAL SEARCH until 1.5 because they don’t make money when you search your own phone. Or the recent S Mobile survey that 1 in 5 Android apps are privacy threats – the fact is android users are bargain hunters and DIYers so there are numbers but they will never constitute a business – that is why it’s a free OS – it’s just there to get google permanently on there as search – the rest is up to the telcos and handset makers with skins.

  21. 18
    Anonymous commenter on 06/23/10 at 17:54:10

    “75% of Android is v1.6 devices that are Android in name only”

    You mean 25%, but hey why not lie about it!

  22. 19
    Bill on 06/23/10 at 19:28:53

    A few things to consider. With most things it is how things are presented. As an example this article is showing the sales of the apps but there are many ways for a developer to make money on apps besides sales one main one is Advertisement which is big on the Android platform. Just like @BillyBadass developers need to get creative and find new ways to make money on a open platform like android. The sky is the limit. Another thing of course Apple is going to make more in sales they have way more apps and is for more mature. One thing a developer needs to consider do they want to be a big fish in a small pond or a little fish in a big pond?

  23. 20
    Blain on 06/25/10 at 00:38:03

    Hunh. Another factor I just realized, and one that’s scared me away from buying things on my G1 while I have purchased things on my iPod Touch.

    Let’s take a look at the Android marketplace.

    Convert your currency into US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, the British Pound, the Euro, and the Yen. Include any conversion fees that might happen. Now, how do you pay it, and who has access to your credit card number from this transaction? Finally, how comfortable are you with your child handing over your information to buy a game? How comfortable are you with someone else’s child handing over your information to buy a game?

    Now let’s look at the increasingly misnamed iTunes App Store.

    No currency conversion. The credit processor is very obvious (Apple) and you can set a cap on its spending. Even better, you can buy gift cards at even grocery stores, with cash even, to reduce risk of credit card information theft to zero. And with this limited-value card, you can safely let the kid buy whatever he wants, and can even put it in a birthday card.

    This would be a key factor in game sales, if nothing else.

  24. 21
    BillyBadass on 06/25/10 at 23:45:54

    Hate to bring this up again, but this is a blog entry about revenue. I just thought of an easy way to increase your revenue off of an already published app. Offer a single player /multiplayer map pack for battle for mars. Include 20 maps or so, charge a few bucks for it. Offer it as an install right here on this website. Use paypal for payment.

    Hell, port the game to pc using a Linux build. Or make a flash game out of it and advertise through that. Zynga does it.

    You guys need to capitalize on your already published work. Creating new apps every fiscal quarter is great but the risk of churning out duds is too great. Once you have a good concept you need to expand on it, not set it aside for the next project. There are very few games for Android that have gotten such a good rating, even fewer in the strategy area. Max your ROI and run with it.

  25. 22
    Detail guy on 06/28/10 at 10:08:38

    A great article comparing two situations by crunching complex numbers.
    The only thing that i felt let you down was the phrase “50x lower”.
    It is neither grammatically nor mathematically correct.
    I think you meant 1/50, one fiftieth or 2%.

    In the first sentence you described $1 Billion as their “70% cut”.
    You wouldn’t describe 70% as “1.43x lower”.

    I am disappointed that such a well researched and well constructed article could be let down in this way.

  26. John Watkinson on 06/28/10 at 15:27:42

    @Detail guy– thanks for the note regarding 50x. We agree, and we edited it to say “1/50th the amount” instead.

  27. 23
    Eric Farnham on 06/29/10 at 16:12:34

    Instead of lamenting lack of sales, please give us more options to your games for us to pay you for. Battle for mars is great but I would pay extra every month for things like additional maps or even simple things like being able to play different races in a 1 person game. You can sort of do so by starting a multiplayer game and waiting for everyone else to drop off but should be easy to do. I have $5 – $10 twice a month for android apps but haven’t found much to buy. It’s all tower and puzzle games or simulations which don’t run well.

  28. 24
    Nathan on 07/02/10 at 22:33:52

    Do you have any calculation of revenue per developer? It probably wouldn’t tell you everything, since you don’t know which are one man shops. One article estimates the median IPhone developer makes $686 per year.

  29. 25
    IDtheTarget on 07/03/10 at 12:54:03

    I’m currently an iPhone user, who will be switching to Android when my contract expires in October. I’ve purchased around $200 in apps and games, from high-dollar apps like DocsToGo and SplashID, to mid-range games like Yahtzee Adventure and BeJeweled, to 0.99 games and apps. I don’t know if I’m typical, but for me it’s much more about value than price.

    As I said, for me it’s about value. If I find a free app that does what I want, why pay money for another app that does the same thing? If I don’t find a free one, why get the free one that doesn’t do what I want, if the paid app is exactly what I’m looking for?

    My biggest concerns are (1) being able to find the apps I want and need (Google has fallen short of the ability to search for apps from my desktop), and (2) quality/integrity of the apps. I don’t want to download an app only to find that it’s compromised my personal information, and I don’t want to spend five hours trying to find a good app.

    Sorry for being long winded… ;)

  30. 26
    geebs on 07/04/10 at 07:45:21

    You guys are making all kinds of predictions. Problem is its only now that a phone has been released that comes even close to what an Iphone offers. And customers who pay for apps buy the best phones.

    So you won’t see an increase in sales until that trend continues.

  31. 27
    geebs on 07/04/10 at 08:12:32

    http://digitaldaily.allthingsd.com/20100623/apples-total-gross-profit-from-the-app-store-since-launch-189-million/

    They claim only 428 million in gross sales.

    How are you getting a 1 billion but when thier totals are not even half that.

  32. 28
    gotbothphones on 07/05/10 at 05:56:10

    I might be way off here but having both devices I notice several apps on android that are free but you purchase enhancements that you pay for through pay pal and other methods. I don’t recall seeing much if any of that on iTunes. Would that not through all these numbers of as they are basically unreported revenue?

  33. 29
    Bilal Aslam on 07/05/10 at 13:56:05

    I live in Pakistan and all I know about Apple or Android OS is through internet articles. I’ve used an iPhone 3G for some time and also some HTC phones. The touch and UI of iPhone 3G was simply awesome. Recently, I read an article on Symbian-Guru which was very sad because Symbian OS is definitely coming to an end. Same thing can happen to Android OS. I won’t say it will die but it will never ever catch up with iOS. Here are some points I’d like to make:

    1- Apple gets massive coverage/marketing via media i.e. iPhone 4 lost case on Gizmode, antenna issues & recently the itunes hacked accounts. So, anyone on internet will definitely notice Apple products.
    2- Apple has far more developers who speak against them but develop for them.
    3- Customers don’t want to know about the power of hardware or software in smart phones, they just want to get their work done in the easiest possible way and Apple excels in doing that.
    4- Platform fragmentation is the worst thing happening to Android OS.
    5- Google must make deals with big advertisers & allow developers to use advertising within their apps. Developers must be paid off heavily then quality will come. In a previous comments, someone mentioned using a Pepsi robot in a war game, that’s what I mean here.

    Anyways, I’ve been using my Nokia N70 for 2 years. I’m happy with it and will continue using it in the future.

  34. 30
    Derek James on 07/05/10 at 17:04:16

    Just to try to add a ray of sunshine to all the doom and gloom, I’m an indie developer who started on Android and has had very good success (i.e., I’m earning a healthy full-time income on revenue from the Android Market alone). Paid sales are about half my revenue. The other half is generated from ads. The market is only going to get better as it expands to new countries, more devices are released, and continued improvements keep rolling out (e.g. the revamped Android Market web interface with OTA purchases/installs). Even so, I’m doing extremely well…better than with the couple of apps I’ve developed for the iPhone. Success in a given market is a mixture of finding and exploiting user interest, hard work, and luck. But the Android Market is not the financial wasteland that some blog posts and articles portray it as, and the battle with the iPhone is only just beginning.

  35. 31
    Martin on 07/05/10 at 19:06:28

    In the name of democratic process Google lets developers put out anything they like on the Market with the users of Android phones left to sort out the junk. Google themselves don’t provide any support or filtering. We are not asking to remove good apps but atleast don’t let trash in. Numbers like 65000 apps don’t mean anything when 95% of them are trash. An app market like that of Palm or Blackberry with 2000 good apps is better than having to go through 65000 apps to find 3000 good ones.

    Don’t get my point, checkout the apps by these developers each of whom have more than 100 apps on the Market:
    1. Adult in nature: “jackyli”, “sowallpaper.com”, “AROMA PLANNING”
    2. Violate copyrights: “Joon Apps”, “Liquid Light Apps”
    3. Improperly categorized: You can find hundreds of adult photo apps such as those from “AROMA PLANNING” in Games -> Casual

  36. 32
    Canvent on 07/09/10 at 09:07:26

    I have a very simple reason that you really missed out!

    The Paid App Market is only open to a few countries and it’s only available on the later and less common version of android.

    For this very reason a Large majority of people with android devices are not able to even see the paid apps on sale!

  37. 33
    Dominic on 07/15/10 at 00:45:51

    I agree with Martin and think the biggest problem on the Android Market is all clutter. The presence of all the malware/inappropriate apps is making it hard to find the good apps and is bringing down the value of the rest of the apps.

    Would you feel comfortable buying a Rolex at retail price from a dollar store?

  38. 34
    Michael Blackburn on 07/15/10 at 18:59:05

    Could you please label your graphs? Someone else asked, and you still haven’t done it. They are meaningless without a key. What are the scales on the right and left sides? Is green android and pink apple? Is the scale at the bottom in the right order?

    How are we having an intelligent discussion about this when the information provided in the charts is so UNintelligible?

  39. 35
    olivia on 07/25/10 at 14:32:00

    john.
    I am confused about which color represent what too. what’s mean about pink and light Green color?
    x-coordinate is app size? Can you explain about your Graph?

    Thank You ~

  40. 36
    Izzy on 07/31/10 at 17:33:09

    Does this mean that you guys don’t intend on continuing to develop apps for Android?

  41. John Watkinson on 08/23/10 at 20:33:51

    @olivia, I’ve updated the article to make it more clear. Somehow the legends got clipped out of those graphs.

  42. 37
    Edward Shepherd on 09/17/10 at 14:33:25

    I still don’t see the legend on your graphs?

    …. what do the colors represent?

    thanks!

  43. 38
    valutavalto on 09/26/10 at 10:33:57

    People play mobile games to pass the time, something even businesspeople using BlackBerries can appreciate during endless meetings or sitting in airline terminals. I was surprised the games percent is as low as it is on BlackBerry. I wonder if it is due to work vs. play demographic difference or due to the platform’s experience.

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