Android leads mobile ad impressions, but iOS tops on revenues

Jason Ankeny

There's still no instruction manual for developers looking to create a successful mobile application, but at least now there's a roadmap: Last week, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) launched The Guide to the App Galaxy, an interactive website promising tips and tricks for navigating the myriad complexities facing aspiring programmers looking to roll out an app and build their own mobile business. First previewed earlier this month at Google's annual I/O conference, The Guide to the App Galaxy features insights into fundamentals like app promotion, monetization and measurement, complete with suggestions from Google and partners like Rovio Mobile, the developer behind the blockbuster Angry Birds. And although it's promoted as platform-agnostic, the Guide to the App Galaxy also serves to promote complementary Google services like the AdMob advertising network and Google Analytics--in other words, it's a map where all roads lead back to the Google mothership.

AdMob isn't the only option for aspiring developers looking to monetize their apps via advertising revenues--the choices also include Millennial Media, which last week released its latest Mobile Mix Report. Google's Android remains the dominant force among the smartphone operating systems across the Millennial network, generating 53 percent of all impressions in April 2011--a 10 percent month-over-month leap. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS is a distant second at 28 percent of total Millennial impressions, and Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) trails even further back at 16 percent. Millennial adds that the number of apps on its network increased 34 percent from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011, with Android apps growing 52 percent during that time. 

But here's where it gets even more interesting: Even though Android is leading the battle for mobile ad impressions, iOS is still winning the war for developer revenues. Breaking down Milliennial ad revenues driven by apps, iOS accounts for a full 50 percent, a 6 percent month-over-month jump--despite almost doubling iOS on April impressions, Android yielded only 39 percent of revenues last month. Why the disparity? The Mobile Mix report doesn't say, but an executive at a rival mobile ad firm recently told me that iOS ad conversion rates are almost 150 percent higher than Android across his company's network, chalking up the difference to usability disparities between the two platforms. "The UI on iOS is better," he said. "Nobody would argue with that." That's one point of interest that The Guide to the App Galaxy doesn't cover. -Jason