Agent Tom

The mobile market place: how does it look today?

We spend a lot of time being all creative and fuzzy and nice here at The Voxel Agents, but often we need to stand back and have a good hard think about what’s actually happening out there in the mobile games space.

To make sure we are all still on top of everything, I spent all of last week researching the mobile market space. I forgot everything I knew about iPhone and Android and had a good hard look at the information that is out there. Some of my findings certainly will be old news to you, and some might change what you thought you knew. So, if you’re interested in the business (pronounced “biz-niz”) side of being an indie game developer, check this stuff out:


You may think the iPad is a mobile device, but you’d be wrong.

  • 43% of iPad owners use their iPad more than their desktop computer 
  • 28% say it’s their primary computer
  • 34% use it more than their TV
  • 83% use it primarily while at home. Only 11% use it on the go.



Developers are flocking back to the iOS platform

According to a blog post by Flurry, in the first quarter of this year, about 65% of new projects were for iOS compared to a respectable 35% targeting Android. However, in the second quarter, iOS accounted for 75% of new projects, leaving just 25% for Android.
It’s worth considering this is based on Flurry’s information alone, so it could equally be taken to mean that Flurry itself is proving to be more popular with iOS developers compared to Android dev’s. This would mean Flurry’s stats in the future are going to have a strong iOS bias.



Even though iOS has more Apps, Android has more free Apps

And that’s not proportionately, that’s in total. The paid model is just not working well on Android.
This same report concludes that sometime this year, the total number of Android Apps will equal the number of iOS Apps (contradicting the story told by Flurry).



iOS has served 15 Billion downloads compared to Androids 4.5 Billion

Given that the iOS App Store has been around for so much longer, this is not a bad showing from Android. However, the vast majority of the iOS downloads occurred in the face of competition from Android. The nail in the coffin: a greater proportion of those iOS downloads were paid.

Those numbers should have six 0's after them too, by the way

Also interesting: the average iOS user has downloaded 75 apps.



Android App installs per day may be reaching parity with iOS installs

But more of the Android installs are free Apps. Clouding the picture is the fact that Apple has clamped down on “incentivized” installs which has removed a lot of “false” installs.



500,000 Android devices are activated every single day

Which means that in the time it took you to read this post another 30,000 Android users began on their merry way. What’s less clear is how many of these devices really deserve to be considered competitors to iOS devices; presumably a large number of them are low powered devices designed only for basic email / web access and social networks.




and most importantly of all…

Android or iOS regardless, it’s a very VERY tough market out there
There’s only so much pie, you see. If we all got an equal slice of that pie, then we’d take home about $8,500 each, which is hardly “quit your day job” money. If you then consider that Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja are both very very fond of pie, then you start to realise that a lot of developers are going hungry (so to speak…).

Thanks for reading this far. Hopefully this is useful information for you. Please let us know your thoughts on the state of the market. Should game developers consider market forces, or should they make games they love and hope that there’s an audience?
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6 Comments for The mobile market place: how does it look today?

Sam | September 26, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Great post Tom! I had no idea about some of those figures. There’s some crazy stats out there but I think your last question was spot on!

Definitely agree with building things you love.

In the words of Shoeless Joe Jackson: “If you build it, he will come!”

Paul | September 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm

“Should game developers consider market forces, or should they make games they love and hope that there’s an audience?”

I think both. Unless your only making games as a hobby, it’s pointless to make something that has no market. Games are a lot of work, so unless you are being paid by the hour, it’s hard to finish something you don’t love.

I reckon it’s best to pick a niche that has a potential market, and that you really care about.

Paul | September 26, 2011 at 1:26 pm


The Voxel Agents' Agent Tom Publishes Revealing Research on Mobile Platform | DIYgamer | September 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm

[…] aspiring developer, because the answers certainly involve all of us. Check out Tom’s research right here. And yes, there are graphs, plenty of them, so do yourself a favor and give it a […]

Andrew Duval | March 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

One week and five charts? That’s a chart a day! You’re a machine!

Seriously, thanks for taking the time to write up your findings. It’s interesting reading.

I”m not surprised about the iPad mobility finding: the iPad is optimised for content consumption, and as such it’s mobility range is usually the distance between your desk and your sofa or bed.

The other charts essentially boil down to two stories, am I right? One: iOS is growing, and two: developers are finding it harder to make a buck on Android so they’re retreating.

What does this mean when push comes to shove? Should developers bet on one platform or two?

In trying to set a direction, is there any value to be gained from comparing iOS/Android now to Windows/Mac 10 years ago? When Windows was dominant, Apple gaming trended down until it was all but dead. What changed the situation was the introduction of a completely new platform (iPhone).

Is the dynamic here similar? Are consumers all satisficing on iOS, Android gaming dwindles to zero, and that is the mobile space closed until something huge and disruptive comes along?

Or is the more accurate parallel the console wars, where we generally have 2-3 consoles in play at any given time (so mobile will reliably have iOS, Windows and Android?).

Agent HQ | March 27, 2012 at 9:13 am

Hey it’s Tom 🙂

Yeah the two major stories there are:
1) iPad is not being used as a mobile device, it’s being used as a convenient device. This has enormous ramifications for the type of games we should be making and the quality of experience users are demanding.

2) iOS is still the best platform for developers, but we shouldn’t be ignoring Android. It’s growing enormously and presents great opportunities, but it is still not as organised or as profitable as iOS. I doubt being an “Android only” studio could be successful, but I know that being an “iOS only” studio is more than viable.

I’m not sure that it’s comparable to either the PC vs Mac debate or the console wars. It seems to be it’s own dynamic. I think that you are correct that we have an iOS-dominant status quo until something disruptive comes along, but there is also a lot of space for Android to become more worthwhile within that status quo.

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