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Apr 4 / lesmond

3 months in..comparison between iOS, Android and Windows Phone sales

UPDATE: New post detailing it almost 12 months later


I have been reading some articles recently that have struck a nerve with me.  All of them refer to one platform as having a bigger market share than another, will be bigger in 2015 etc.etc.   The articles I have recently read are the following…

All of these are great but what do they mean to a developer like me?  Well nothing actually…..why?

I suspect that type of person is different for each platform and that iOS for example are more likely to buy apps.  I really don’t know why or get to the bottom of it but that is what I think from my dealings with all these users of each platform.  And at the end of the day I don’t care how many devices are out there with a certain OS if those users aren’t into buying apps.

For a few months now we have had our “Plane Finder” app available for the major 3 platforms largely due to demand from the user base.  I have put together a graph of sales from the 3 platforms without actual numbers so you can compare side by side how they fare!

Hopefully I can present a typical picture here with anyone looking to port across their apps to different platforms and this may change over time.  Certainly Android and Windows Phone in the last few weeks have picked up slightly but nothing to write home about!

(Click for bigger view!)

(Note….iPad sales are excluded so this is a phone for phone comparison!)


Also check out the web map that makes all of this happen…



The y-axis starts at zero and is linear.  You should be able to visibly see the multiplier.

This is paid apps only.


Leave a comment
  1. Patrick / Apr 4 2011

    What are the units and scale for the x and y axes?

    • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

      The x-axis is one single month in period.

      I have purposely not shown the y-axis as this is commercially sensitive info but you do get the relationship between them all.

      • Peter / Apr 4 2011

        We can’t get the relationship unless you put in arbitrary values to scale.

      • Fredrik Olsson / Apr 4 2011

        I assume the Y-axis starts on zero and is linear?

        • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

          Yes it starts at zero and is linear, this is paid apps only

        • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

          It is indeed

      • Steve / Apr 4 2011

        Ok, I get not wanting to put units on the Y axis, but it IS quite relevant to know if the Y axis anchored at 0 or if we are zoomed in on part of the graph. Which is it?

      • Johnny / Apr 4 2011

        I understand not wanting to give actual revenue numbers, but what is the ratio of iOS to Android? 2x, 3x, 4x, ?

        • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

          The graph is linear so you can visually see it, I will post again soon with actual multipliers

      • Paul / Apr 4 2011

        You should make the Y axis a percent of the whole, that way you wouldn’t divulge anything sensitive and nobody could accuse you of misrepresenting the data by using some whacky scale…

        • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

          Good idea, I will follow it up with a better graph on another post.

  2. Keith / Apr 4 2011

    Is the vertical axis linear or logarithmic?

    These are all purchased/paid downloads or are ‘free/trial’ downloads included?

  3. rd / Apr 4 2011

    What about the free version of IOS, is it included.
    Which month.
    What about usage.

    • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

      It is the last 30 days, and only the paid apps.

  4. Divebus / Apr 4 2011

    Ouch. It seems “they’ll make it up in volume” isn’t true. I know what I’m sticking with now. No y-axis numbers required. Thanks.

  5. Jonas / Apr 4 2011

    The problem is that you can’t really compare.

    Without a sense of the y-min, y-max, and intervals, there is absolutely no sense of whether the differences are significant or trivial. There is, in effect, no information presented besides the ordinal iOS > Android > Windows. (Well, there’s a little more than that, about the relative differences.)

    Moreover, x-axis information could be crucial. One cannot know whether the bump on iOS, for example, is due to Christmas, iPhone 4, Verizon, or a number of other things. Some of those events are repeatable (Christmas) and others (Verizon) are not.

    I totally understand that you would not want to share these information. But the point is that, without sufficient context, it would be unjustified for others to insinuate that this is clearly good news for iOS developers or that Android users are cheap.

    • Drew / Apr 4 2011

      Look at the graph again, it has a linear scale & the author has stated it covers one a one month period.

      It is apparent that iOS is 4 to 6 times greater than the Android & Windows Phone sales, sure he could be selling one or two copies per day, but it is clear that the iPhone is selling way more apps.

      It would be interesting to include other iOS data in terms of devices, to see if the Touch is as big as Gruber keeps saying it is.

  6. Stefan / Apr 4 2011

    If you would add the iPad numbers too, what would that look like in the graph?

    • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

      I will do some more posts in the future including this

  7. John G / Apr 4 2011

    I honestly don’t mean this to come across as insulting or belittling, but it is impossible to express this point otherwise.

    You sell a toy application that does nothing of any real use, not even really providing entertainment value. If this graph demonstrates anything whatsoever, it speaks to the novelty aspect of the iPhone and many iPhone users, and is of zero value to anyone making productivity or gaming applications.

    • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

      No offence taken but the app is used by a lot of industry people, pilots, ground crew, cabin crew and airlines! :-)

      It does have a novelty factor but some very serious uses

    • Toy Needle / Apr 4 2011

      Even if it is a toy app, do you suppose there is a difference among users of each platform in “desire for toy apps”? I would think it’s pretty much the same.

      • John G / Apr 4 2011

        The whole premise of this entry is that there is a profound difference between the users of the two platforms.

        To paraphrase an old joke: Q – How can you tell if someone owns an iPhone? A – They’ll tell you.

        There is a lot of truth in that. Apps that provide opportunities for iPhone users to essentially try to show off their device are more likely to do well on that platform.

        It’s also worth noting that this application has a lot of very poor reviews on the Android Market (and a negligible number of downloads, again speaking to my original point. Why would most people want such an app?). I only mention that because Gruber — who is obviously feeding his faithful here — makes a point of fingering poor reviews as the reason for ShopSavvy’s standing, while failing to do the same for this app.

        • ARW / Apr 4 2011

          “There is a lot of truth in that. Apps that provide opportunities for iPhone users to essentially try to show off their device are more likely to do well on that platform.”

          There’s not, “…a lot of truth in that.” And your demanding contextual accuracy after painting 20 million users with one broad swipe of the brush? ummm, ok.

          • John G / Apr 4 2011

            I don’t need to paint 20 million users with that brush. Do you think this app has sold 20 million copies?

            People who are very status…concerned…are far more likely to choose an iPhone. I say this from experience, but of course surveys say the same thing.

            Status aware people are more likely to look for things that let them demonstrate their holdings. Like “Oh gee look Flight XYZ is flying over”. From a purely practical perspective, that is somewhere just North of “Who gives a shizzle…”, but there it is. Somehow this sells.

        • Boab / Apr 4 2011

          Q – How can you tell if someone hates Apple/iPhones? A – They’ll tell you.

          • John G / Apr 4 2011

            Q – How can you tell if someone hates Apple/iPhones?

            A – Do they have an iPhone / Buy into every pro-Apple screed? No? Then they clearly must hate Apple/iPhones.

            Get a grip. You raging zealots are an embarrassment.

          • Tim / Apr 6 2011

            Not to sound insulting or belittling, John, but you’re kind of sounding like a raging zealot yourself. You’re putting a lot of effort into rationalizing through twists and turns, and you don’t seem to be too receptive to the legitimacy of thoughts that aren’t yours.

    • kibbles / Apr 4 2011

      @john – i guess “useful” is a pretty relative term, huh.

    • Ted T. / Apr 4 2011

      Yet another ignoramus working in the dog-whistle word “toy” in posting about anything Apple related. Yes, all pilots do is play, as do apparently doctors, see:–+Technology+stories

      The Apple hating crowd really needs some new buzzwords.

      • John G / Apr 4 2011

        I fail to see how this app being a toy (which it is. Honestly the idea of professional pilots using it to look at the sky and figure out what flight is flying by is laughable) has *any* bearing on any other app, including your ridiculously inappropriate rage-link.

        • Henk Poley / Apr 4 2011

          I can imagine using this as a pilot while on the ground (outside of an actual airplane). You probably know friends who are pilots or steward(esse)s, and wish to track when they’ll arrive.

    • His Shadow / Apr 4 2011

      Nice attempt at deflection. It actually makes it worse. What do you think the curves look like for apps that aren’t “toys”?

      That you think a single example of a nifty app that you denigrate as worthless then allows you to generalize about the entire iOS ecosystem speaks to your irrational biases, no matter how much you try to couch it as objective insight.

  8. Stu / Apr 4 2011

    Can you post 1, 3, 6, 12 month graphs?

    • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

      Yeah I will do a further blog post once this traffic has died down :-)

  9. Dabemo / Apr 4 2011

    Why you say iOS and esclude the iPad?
    Could you publish the graph usino all iOS sales (iPhone, iPod touch and iPad)?

    • lesmond / Apr 4 2011

      I wanted to keep it as fair as possible to keep the Android people from thinking I inflated the figures :-)

  10. Hamranhansenhansen / Apr 4 2011

    iOS is primarily an app platform. It’s designed that way and people buy it for that. The 3×4 T9 from the standard phone has been replaced with a 4×5 grid where each button launches an app. It fully supports powerful native C apps and universal HTML5 Web apps. Phone is just one app out of 400,000. It’s an “app phone” in every way.

    So even if the installed base were equal (and when you include iPod touch as a low-end iPhone, iPhone’s installed base is larger, and with iPod quite a bit larger still) you are going to see more app activity on iOS. The people who are into apps went out and bought iPhones to run apps, the apps are better, more numerous, easier to download, safer to download, and work on all devices, not just some. All these things add up. That’s why 82% of paid app downloads are on iOS.

    The Android user base is split into people who bought an Android phone to get Android, and people who bought an Android phone to get a phone, who may not even know their phone is Android. They may not even know it can run Android apps. They may not even use the Web browser much. The apps are lower quality, fewer categories, harder to download, riskier to download, and may or may not work well on your device, or at all. So the Android installed base is going to be underrepresented in apps compared to iOS.

    So if we are wondering what does Android have to do to become the primary mobile development platform, it is going to have to have an installed base probably twice the size of iOS just to pull even with the app activity on iOS. Right now, iOS installed base is 2x the Android installed base. So there is quite a ways to go, if Android ever gets there at all.

    Also, there is also the language issue to consider. Windows, Mac, Unix, Linux, PlayStation, Wii, Xbox, and iOS are all native C, while Android is Java. It’s so much easier to port a console game or PC app to iOS than to Android it’s not funny. Even if Android has a larger installed base at some point, even 2 times iOS, they may have to open up a native C API before they can really become the marquee mobile app platform. HP and RIM have an opportunity to gain a lot of good apps quickly if they open up native C API’s.

    But in short, Android has not dominated the world yet. Cool your engines, Android fanboys.

    • pmoe / Apr 4 2011

      “The Android user base is split into people who bought an Android phone to get Android, and people who bought an Android phone to get a phone, who may not even know their phone is Android.”

      I think that is such a true statement. And frankly google don’t care whether people “want” Android or not. It was made “free” and “open” for a reason.

      They knew the US carriers and OEM phone makers (HTC) would want something free to be able to compete with iOS and that would mean more access to user data, faces looking at google search results and ads. Period.

      Who cares who has “sold” more copies? Who cares who has made the most profit? Who cares who has more fun apps?

      I know I have a phone that works really, really well. It has great and useful personal and business apps, plays music videos and TV shows when I want it. And it just works seamlessly with my MacBook Pro, iMac and AppleTV.

      • Robert / Apr 5 2011

        Who cares? People who write apps care about these things. That is the whole point.

        A statement was made that developers should develop for Android because there are more Android units. The truth, however, is that that is only one of many factors to consider, which this article pretty clearly demonstrates.

        And, by the way, the take away isn’t that what is true for Plane Finder is true for everyone. The point is that a developer should consider all the factors and do so in the context of their specific products.

    • J.A.Duke / Apr 4 2011

      “The Android user base is split into people who bought an Android phone to get Android, and people who bought an Android phone to get a phone, who may not even know their phone is Android.”

      Then there are those Android users who were sold one as “it’s just like an iPhone” because they didn’t want to or couldn’t leave Verizon.

      I work in IT supporting all these handsets (iPhone, Windows Mobile, & various Android flavors) and most of the Android handsets were purchased in the last year because people needed a smartphone that runs on Verizon and they couldn’t get an iPhone.

      On those ‘Droids, most of the apps are free ones. On the iPhones, most of the apps are paid. Just my unscientific survey.


  11. Bill Houle / Apr 4 2011

    Also depends on quality of app relative to competitors in the store (or “marketplace”). ShopSavvy reports 4-to-1 in favor of Android. But in Apple’s Store, ShopSavvy is rated low and RedLaser is much more popular. Whereas in Android it may be the only such product available!

  12. George wedding / Apr 4 2011

    Please clarify whether this chart includes data for iPad and iPod touch devices, or Android tablets for that matter. I assume it does not, and think poeple would like to see a separate chart with that data included.

  13. AlfieJr / Apr 4 2011

    ah! fun to watch the droid fans rationalize and trash.

    but nothing is going to change the market reality that Android is about being cheap, while iOS is about consumer consumption.

    or to put it nicely, Android prioritizes communication/info services (mainly ad driven), while iOS prioritizes content services (often paid).

    if Plane Finder is a toy, then how about the big time MLB app? same story.

    developers ain’t stupid. and they need to be paid.

  14. Johan / Apr 5 2011

    Very helpful. Big thanks.

  15. allen arpadi / Apr 5 2011

    I believe that Apple apps outsell Android apps at a 4 to 1 ratio, upwards to a 10 to 1 ratio.

    that developers write the Apple applications first before other platforms because that is where the money is.

    Android gives away their applications (and Phones) because their money comes from sheer numbers of ads displayed on their phones.

    at the beginning of the comment section, a comparison of BMW to Ford is a very good one. Apple doesn’t mind competition.

    Another article talks about how much easier the iOS is to use. I personally am an ignorant person and just want to use a phone not learn it’s convoluted ways. “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

  16. Eric / Apr 5 2011

    This story was muddied when I actually visited your site. You’ve got “available on the app store” links galore, but no calls to action for the other platforms. If users found Plane Finder by being directed to your site, they’d probably never know there was a mobile version for WP7 or Android, without hunting for it in the market. In fact, I’d think there *wasn’t*, since you list Apple’s store, but not the others. Why would you not link to those or at least make their existence as readily known as the others? How many users find the app by thinking “I wonder if I can find planes on my phone” and go to the respective app store?

  17. Thomas Paine / Apr 5 2011

    The href on your 2nd business insider link is wrong. It points to the first article.

  18. David Wingrove / Apr 5 2011

    I made a similar post over at except I made a pie chart of total lifetime sales after being on iOS and Android for over a year instead of charting over time. I agree that there are a ton of variables involved, but for me iOS is 4x more profitable than Android when looking just at app sales.

  19. Fingers / Apr 6 2011

    So iPhone users are more likely to buy pointless crap for their overhyped, overpriced, oh so trendy ‘look at me’ phones than users of other smart phones. Hardly a surprise if you ask me

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