iOS Consumers Tend to Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

iOS Consumers Tend to Put Their Money Where Their Mouths AreA few comments have been posted to an article I recently wrote about a product that is targeted to Apple device consumers. Most of the comments — in fact, 75 percent of the comments posted at the time I’m composing this sentence — are inquiring about whether or not the product I wrote about is going to be made available to Android device users.

My response to one of the commenters included the following assertion: “iPhone/iPad users are more likely to pony up for stuff they want. It’s a generalization, I know — but too many Android users want stuff for free/close to free. iOS consumers tend to put their money where their mouths are.”

I have long desired to own an Android device, and earlier this year I was finally able to afford one, a vastly discounted Samsung device offered by a prepaid carrier. I purchased the device at Best Buy for $50 at a time when the manufacturer’s suggested retail price was well over $100. It was one of those fortunate moments when the stars aligned in my favor; for months I had been watching and other deal monitoring sites in the hopes that such a deal would make an appearance. When it did, I jumped on the occasion.

This was my first experience with an Android device, and I must say I was at first thrilled with it. Though the device was somewhat lacking in the specs department, I salivated over the opportunity to finally be able to discover what everyone had been talking about since the first Android-powered device was released in 2008.

Yet I soon found that my new phone was severely incapable of being able to do what I most wanted to do: install apps. I mean, the device was loaded with the prepaid carrier’s apps, including Facebook and Twitter and a few more of the universally accepted necessities. But I was unable to add more than a few more apps without quickly running out of internal storage. Within a month, I decide to delve into the world of Android modding in order to see if I could modify my phone just so that it would be able to run more apps.

Eventually, after much exploring and deciphering of the somewhat esoteric Android modding community, I found a developer who was willing to develop a ROM that would render my device usable. And though at least one of my co-contributors here at LockerGnome finds it awesome but unimportant to be able to root your Android device, I’ve found the ability to root my device to be an absolute necessity in my being able to enjoy using my phone. Today, the Android phone is in a state that I far better appreciate than it had been when I first brought it home from Best Buy.

And yet the device, due to its low specs, is still only capable of running an outdated version of Android. Though I find Gingerbread (Android 2.3.6) capable enough for my current needs (for the most part), I’m finding myself unwilling to purchase apps for the device. For one thing, many of the apps I’ve installed on the device lack the quality I’ve found in their equivalent apps developed for the iOS platform. For another, though I’ve invested some money into the device, such as an extended battery and a larger microSD card in order to enable the device to perform better than it at first did, I’m finding the device still doesn’t quite match the quality of the iOS device that I recently purchased from somebody off of Craigslist, a 4th generation iPod touch that came equipped with far more storage and memory than the inexpensive Android device I’d been hoping would rock my world.

There are some incredible Android devices on the market, but I speak from the point of view of someone who cannot afford the latest and most expensive ones of the bunch. Certainly I would love to sport a Nexus 4 or a Galaxy S III, but those devices are far out of my budget. The iPod touch, though having some flaws of its own, I acquired for $100 and have since purchased approximately $50 worth of apps to install to the device. As for the Android device, I have spent precisely $0 (zero dollars) for apps to install on the phone.

I believe that iOS consumers are far more likely to spend their money on apps for their iPads and iPhones (and iPod touches). I am far from alone in this opinion. This is, I believe, because the typical iOS consumer has more disposable income than the vast majority of mobile device consumers. They can afford to purchase apps that owners, such as myself, of less expensive devices can afford to purchase. In addition, there is a perception that iOS apps are of superior quality than their Android counterparts. Earlier this year, when the developers of Instagram finally released an Android version of their remarkably popular iOS photo sharing app, an immediate and overwhelming criticism was made — mostly from iOS consumers, its seems — that the quality of the Android version of the app was of lesser quality. Whether or not the complaints were warranted or not, I don’t know. (I hadn’t yet tested Instagram on an iOS device at the time the Android version was released.)

There are iOS apps, of course, developed by Apple itself that are far from maintaining the standard of quality that the company is known for. But most apps must undergo a strict vetting process before they are allowed to be sold through Apple’s App Store, and this further reinforces consumers’ perception that iOS apps are of a higher quality. iOS consumers often purchase Apple products due to this perception, whether valid or not, and are more willing to pay for apps to further enhance their iPhones or iPads.

This is not intended to be an insult to consumers of low-cost Android devices (which would in fact be an insult to myself); it’s simply a view that I strongly hold, having now had considerable experience using both devices. (I’ve also participated in beta testing of another Android device since my initial purchase, and found myself even less willing to purchase apps for the device due to its lacking in certain very key areas.) Perhaps, once I have more experience with higher-quality Android devices, my views will change. I’d certainly like to see some of my favorite apps, such as Bossjock Studio, one day make their way to the Android side. But I’m not going to be complaining about it until it’s perfected its app on iOS devices, and I’m certainly not going to pretend I’d pay good money for an Android app that almost certainly wouldn’t be capable of performing well on the device I currently own.

Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? Would you pay good money for an Android version of an app that currently is exclusively being developed for iOS devices? Would you, for example, buy GarageBand or iTunes or iMovie or FaceTime for Android? If there was an app for surviving the apocalypse, would you download it only if it was free?

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  • crispy

    As an Android user and former iOS user I can agree with the statement as a whole but the argument for s completely flawed. The reason why iOS users pay more per unit on apps is because ppl with these low end phones who only want it for the basic apps and better web browsing than a feature phone are dragging down Android user’s numbers. I purchase apps on the regular sometimes just to help a good indy developer out. IOS ,Android, or whatever you use does not matter ppl with cheap phones do not buy apps.

    • crispy

      Sorry about the spelling and grammatical errors but hopefully got my point across.

      • Harold

        That fact that you took the time to post your thoughts fills me with gratitude. Your apology is something I would do myself, so I respect you even more for that.

        I think your argument reinforces my position, or at least one conjecture of mine — that people who buy cheap Android devices aren’t willing to pay for apps, regardless of how valuable those apps may be. Certainly, there are a minority of Android users involved in the modding community who may pay for apps they find useful, such as Titanium Backup. Some even donate to the devs who provide methods of rooting Android devices and custom ROMs. Yet I haven’t myself, even though I encouraged at least one developer to build a ROM for the entry-level phone I have, which hardly any devs seemed interested in putting time into building. I have some guilt about that; I could’ve tightened my belt a little to pitch a few bucks that developers way.

        Yet the majority of iOS consumers are far more likely to purchase apps, regardless of whether their iPhone or iPod or iPad is has been customized or not. Is it because they have more money? Is it because they tend to be more supportive of iOS developers due to the perception that iOS apps are inherently of a better quality?

        Are consumers of the highest quality (and most expensive) Android devices as willing to pay for apps as iOS consumers are? If I owned an Android phone or tablet of a quality that perceived to match that of an Apple device, I suspect I’d personally be willing to purchase the Android versions of apps I’ve already purchased for my iPod touch (such as Tapatalk and Forum Runner, for example). I’m not certain, however — and now that I’ve already made a considerable investment in iOS apps, I suspect I won’t be purchasing a higher-quality (and certain to be more expensive) Android device anytime soon.

  • Nico Sap

    Android also has budget users, they are not going to pay less for anything.

    Also, i’ve got a SGS 2 and i still buy apps that are usefull and even just to promote them because i find them ingenieus (eg. the Zombies Run, i just bought because i thought it was an awesome concept, still didn’t use it though).

    People with Apple’s Mini’s are also going to pay less for apps then you think…

    It’s not the platform, it’s the device itself. If you buy a Samsung Galaxy S3 or any top model phone, you want more apps and perhaps you bought it because it can play better games.

    If you pay 150 $ for a cellphone, you’re not going to install everything on it. You just want something (eg. browsing) that you can do with a smartphone, but you don’t want every feature that it “can” do.

    Just noticed it now, my comment is almost the same as crispy’s.

    • Harold

      I agree about consumers of Apple’s mini-branded products buying less than your average iOS consumer.

      First off, there aren’t even any apps available to purchase for the iPod mini.

      Consumers of the Mac mini are usually either just dabbling into the Mac world and don’t want to spend (or don’t have) the money to afford the best of what Apple has to borrow, or they’re developers looking for a cheap way to built Mac and/or iOS software and don’t intend for the Mac mini to do much else for them.

      As for the iPad mini, Steve Jobs didn’t even see the value of offering a tablet at that size. In its current state, the iPad mini seems a waste of money — another product aimed at enticing a smaller percentage of consumers into the iOS world (as they’ve done with the Mac mini).

  • Thomas Houps

    I have had a iphone in the past and now own a android device, i am more than pleased with it, i found when i was using the iphone i would buy apps that i dont need or use, there were some apps that were total ripoffs, on the android i found there are less apps but more things i use like information music. ect

  • Steve

    Interesting article, thanks! But I do think you are comparing apples with oranges – an expensive iPod (with no phone/messaging/3g capabilities) compared with an outdated low-spec Android device.

    Also, have you looked at Apps2SD – you can install apps to your SD card, so you don’t run out of internal memory.


    I know many iOS users will disagree with me here, but I believe Apple users, in general, are less careful with their money and therefore are more willing to purchase [often unnecessary] Apps.

    I base this view on several factors including:
    – Many Apple fans queue up for hours/days to spend £650ish on a device they know nothing about and have no reason to get it other than its ‘supposed to be newer and better’.
    – The cost of the devices being significantly higher than devices such as the Galaxy S3 (which is higher spec, has a bigger screen and doesn’t restrict functionality)
    – Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘first look at the iPhone 5′ where they used an iPhone 4S yet the Apple fans actually convinced themselves the fake one was so much better & quicker)

    I am not trying to offend anyone or cause arguments, and I realise that some people have good reasons to prefer an iPhone to an Android – but I’m also sure that many Apple users would be converted if they tried out a decent Android phone for a reasonable length of time.

    Personally, I just find Apple products overpriced, limited functionality, no choice (i.e. you can’t get a large-screen iPhone – you are limited to just one choice.) but that is just my personal opinion. I also personally find Apple devices hard to use due to being restricted to only one button which ‘apparently’ does home/back/search all in one, few settings and a basic system of organizing apps (all your apps seem to get dumped on the homescreen with no apparent options to sort or filter them).

    Android’s main problem seems to be the huge numbers of budget devices – they aren’t intended to compete with the iPhone, so you can’t reasonable expect the device to be as good as a £650 iPhone (especially since you can buy around 15 new budget Android devices for the same price as an iPhone 5) . The flagship Android phones such as the Galaxy S3 will obviously offer a much better experience than a £50 one.

    Sorry for the essay and thanks again for the interesting read.

    • Harold

      Don’t apologize for the “essay”; it’s comments like these that keep my writing.

      I agree about people who give Android devices a chance may find themselves enjoying them more than iOS devices. But it seems that Android users aren’t willing to do so. Even Samsung admits this with their most recent, clever-but-now-increasingly-annoying commercial portraying iOS consumers as either hipsters or out-of-touch parents (which an unfair generalization, but effective). (That Jimmy Kimmel segment was hilarious, by the way.)

      I actually enjoyed Samsung’s commercial the first 100 or so times I watched it. But what is Samsung really telling us with this commercial? That Android (specifically, Samsung Android owners) are more technically savvy, more grounded (they make Apple consumers seem downright loopy), less superficial consumers. Android consumers don’t wait hours in line for their devices and expect to get special treatment (a particular point that begs the question that perhaps Samsung devices aren’t worth waiting hours for). This is all clever and effective marketing, but why aren’t those same consumers buying app at the pace of iOS consumers? Do they feel they are entitled to simply have developers make apps freely available?

      The gap is closing, however, as some reports indicate that Android users are catching up with iOS consumers in their willingness to pay for apps. Here’s some evidence from a few months ago:

      Whether that trend continues with the introduction of iPhone 5 and the new iPod and iPad lineups — well, only time will tell. It’s an interesting thing to watch, particularly if you’re considering developing for either platform.

  • M h

    For me, my wife’s an Apple-everything user. I have PC’s and Android. I generally assume that if something is Apple, it’s going to work. Whereas something Android might work, probably won’t do what you thought it would, breaks something, or you’re sick of it after 3 days? That’s been my experience anyway? And the reason I never pay for anything Android. I have paid for 2 things only, a phone number blocker and the Android version of Siri. The Siri thing sucks and gets everything wrong so I don’t use it. It far worse than autocorrect.

    • Harold

      I appreciate your honesty, M h. I have a case of “the shakes” myself, which I detailed in an editorial I posted a few months ago:

      I’m finding I’m able to handle my iPod touch with one hand (just like in the commercial). Not always, but often. I wouldn’t be able to do that with my Android phone, bulkier than anything due to the extended battery I installed just to render the device more usable.

      I’ve invested about $70 in the components of the Android device:

      $50 (device) + $10 (extended battery w/cover) + $10 (armband)
      Still paying for (since I purchased using credit)

      For the iPod touch, about $105 (cash):

      $100 (device) + $5 (case)
      Paid in cash

      By the time I finish paying off the credit line, I may have paid as much or more for the Android and its accessories than for the iOS device. (Certainly more already if you include the expenses I’ve paid to my Android device’s prepaid carrier.) For whatever reason, however, I’m finding myself willing to pay for software for the iOS device, but not for the Android. Perhaps it’s because I find myself using the iPod more (and enjoy using it more).

  • Harold

    By the way, everyone, I just received a marketing email from Google announcing that Google Play’s Cyber Weekend Sale has begun. I’d love to be a fly on that wall right now, watching how many Android apps sell in comparison to the iOS apps consumers will be purchasing for their new i-devices this weekend…

  • Rick

    I’m on my iPad and of course can’t watch the videos! So what’s up with that?