How do I know the app I'm selling is, um, selling properly?
February 5, 2014 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Background: I work for a (small) company and was put in charge of helping manage the creation of a smartphone app, related to our business (both clients and non-clients would find it relevant) and geared at business professionals in the US. I was given this task due to capacity and not skill, so it's been a learning curve. An outside developer was brought in to actually create the app (for both iOS and Android). Both versions are functionally identical (with identical text in the respective stores) and sell for the same price ($1.99, if that's relevant). It's now been a few months since the apps went live in their respective stores. Our PR firm has been helping promote the app to generate sales/spread the word. As it turns out, the iOS version is outselling the Android version by a factor of 12 to 1. Given that Android appears to have a much larger market share than Apple, this seems a little odd. I'm looking for input from those who have sold apps in both stores to see if this is akin to their experience or any resources that might help explain why this is. I've done some searching on my own (both here in the green and on the web) but haven't found anything concrete.
posted by Twicketface to Technology (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Android has a bigger share of the market. iOS has a bigger share of the app market. That's because iPhone owners buy a lot of apps, and many Android users just use their Android phone as a phone, or maybe to send a text or email or two. 12 to 1 is not impossible.
posted by musofire at 9:01 AM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

Musofire has it right. A greater share of the Android market is free or very-cheap phones; those users are more price-sensitive in the first place, and less interested in leveraging the "smart" part of their smartphones. In addition, Android apps that do get use are much more likely than their iOS equivalents to be ad-supported as opposed to paid.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:05 AM on February 5, 2014

A lot of Android users are overseas in countries where paid apps may not be available yet.
posted by dcjd at 9:11 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

As everybody has said the demographics make a difference. People buying iPhone's generally have more expendable income than those on Android. They are more used to paying things like music, for new phones and apps. For me on my Android buying an app is a rare experience.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:18 AM on February 5, 2014

12 to 1 does seem a *little* high, but definitely not out of the realm of possibility. Still, I'd investigate it into further. If it were 3-4:1, like Flurry's research indicates, I'd chalk it up to demographics. But 12:1 puts the burden of proof back on to your plate a bit.

Also, do you have some sort of analytics built into the app like Flurry? If not, you should add it ASAP just to get an idea of what's going on with the users themselves.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:36 AM on February 5, 2014

I'm not sure if there are stats that back this up, but myself and my co-workers (all but one are android users) are more likely to buy an app if there's a free demo version of the app to test before buying. Sure, there's the 15 minute window to get a refund, but the fact that the window is so small adds enough stress and feels so small that I don't consider that window when making a buy/don't buy decision. Does your app have a free/demo version?

How is the PR firm handling it's promotions? Is it possibly doing it in a manner which will catch more iOS eyes than android? Do they think this matches other customers of theirs?

Also, android users are less likely to buy certain types of apps. I remember an article (but can't find it; sorry, but maybe you'll have good luck searching this for the fure?) that showed categories/types of apps more likely to be bought and Android users.

I agree 12:1 seems like a high ratio, despite Apple having a larger app marketshare.
posted by nobeagle at 10:18 AM on February 5, 2014

Besides the overall demographics cited above, what's relevant in this case is the iOS share of the enterprise market, since you're dealing with a business-to-business app here. As of a year ago, iOS had a 78% and growing share of that market. Perhaps it's even higher in your particular industry. You could confirm that by looking at your website analytics mobile usage platforms.
posted by beagle at 10:31 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a user of both Android and iOS who's happy to pay for apps, I have to say that the far better web browsing experience on Android means that I only buy apps there when I can't get equivalent functionality in a web site, or when I have to have the functionality in a place that doesn't have net connectivity (which is mainly my shopping list when I'm in the back corner of the big box hardware store).

And what everyone else has said: Adjust your market expectations for your target audience demographics.
posted by straw at 10:33 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've worked on three apps with about 3 million active users each, on iOS.
The Android versions of the same apps had 30K, 56K and 14K users.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 10:59 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I came here to post essentially what BabeTheBlueOX said -- I know apps with ratios more like 100 to 1 in favor of iOS. In terms of total dollars, Apple generates about $5 for every $1 in Android, but I believe that these numbers are skewed by some high performing titles (primarily games) that really well on Google Play compared to iTunes. In the broader category of niche apps, Google Play customers are famously very resistant to paying for their apps. Every six months someone comes out with a study showing a strong upward trend for Android and yet the rough math never seems to change.

Anecdotally, I know someone who had a personal productity app on Droid with a fairly specialized focus whose sales went to near zero once a competing, yet clearly inferior product came out for free. The same competitor made no discernable dent in his iOS sales.
posted by Lame_username at 11:22 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Android users also don't like to pay a lot for apps. They're unlikely to purchase an app if they haven't been able to at least try out a representative trial version. If the app is priced the same for iOS and Android, and it's at the high end, that has a lot to do with it, too.
posted by stormyteal at 12:35 PM on February 5, 2014

Market research shows that while there are way more Android users out there, iOS users are way more likely to purchase apps that cost money. I'm not sure the ratio is that alarming.

I'm personally an Android user in part because it's way easier to have an Android smartphone on a budget. I get to choose my phone, my plan, my carrier, etc. and I get to keep my budget lean. iPhone users in general seem far less concerned with saving money on their phone usage.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:15 PM on February 5, 2014

If your target market is some niche subset of business professionals in the US it likely skews more towards iPhone users rather than Android. (Some Pew data on demographics. Basically the higher the household income and education level, the greater the iPhone proportion.)

Some of the other considerations about Android vs iPhone may not apply to that segment as presumably the folks you are targeting are affluent, not extremely price sensitive, and not on the budget end of Android handsets.

A more important question might be why you are charging for the app at all, because it doesn't sound like it is intended to be a profit-center in itself, but to support your main business by connecting with customers better. Presumably that better connection is worth a lot more per client than the $2 you might make from an app sale, so why put barriers in the way of adoption by making it paid?
posted by philipy at 6:42 PM on February 5, 2014

Seconding the suggestion to see the ratio of devices which visit your website.

iOS is only a few physical products. Android serves a huge number of tablets and phones. Is your app optimised for all of those products? Should be easy for your development team to show you via the kit they test on.

The google play store is not easy to find things on vs Apple. How is your mobile SEO in store? Maybe worth a hygiene check that all your links, via paid search or SEO point to the right place.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 12:58 AM on February 6, 2014

« Older [Blog Naming Filter] Help me name my dad's blog   |   Battlestation: Multiple desktops and monitors but... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.