Many studies purport to divine the nature of the emerging smartphone app market, and with good reason. As happened with the Windows-dominated desktop computer, the smartphone market is likely to reach a point where one platform attracts the most developers, becomes an even more popular platform, draws more developers, then more users, and so on.
The process is somewhat similar to the way in which certain sharks consume each other in utero, with one finally emerging, having devoured its siblings.
Millennial Media‘s latest numbers (see chart or .pdf) show that while Android continues to gobble up market share, iPhone users are still far more willing to spend money on apps. The iPhone grabbed a market-leading 47 per cent of app revenue, despite Android claiming a market-leading 48 per cent of the smartphone market, so the jury is still out on which platform will dominate.
The study echoes something we heard recently from the developer of an upcoming, top-secret, hot-as-blazes music app. He said his app will run on the iPhone, for a price –but that no Android version will be available. His reason? Android users aren’t as willing to pay, so he would need to make that app ad-supported in order to make it work.
Blackberry users, like Android users, were also proportionally less likely to spend money on apps. However, fringe mobile platforms (Windows Phone 7, Symbian, and Palm WebOS) attracted about 10x their share of app revenue given their tiny share of the market.
From this vantage point, the battle to become the dominant smartphone platform — which matters as much to the average consumer as it does to app developers — will be decided in part by how successful Google and Android developers can integrate advertising, as well as how closely Android and others are able to ape Apple’s iTunes app store, increasing revenue from sales. For example, after allowing various Android markets to proliferate, Google is now wisely focusing on its own centralized Android marketplace, a la iTunes.