iOS users are widely acknowledged to be more valuable than Android users. From online retail to ads to the world of apps, they are known to historically convert at significantly higher rates and have a higher average spend.
In online retail, iOS users have been shown throughout the years to have both higher conversion rates and purchase amounts than Android users. It’s commonly accepted that an iPhone shopper is more valuable than an Android phone shopper.
But is there more to the Android vs iOS story? We decided to look at the mobile conversion rates of iPhone and Android phone users for a subsection of our customers whose mobile commerce sites we power.
We found that conventional wisdom about the value of iOS versus Android users needs updating. iPhone shoppers may still convert at higher rates and have a higher average spend than Android phone shoppers, but the gap between the two operating systems is shrinking.
The difference in e-commerce conversion rates between Android and iOS decreased by 75% year-over-year in Q1. The Android-iOS conversion rate gap is now a mere 5%. Android phone shoppers are now converting at nearly the same rate as iPhone shoppers.
With the conversion rate gap shrinking at such a rate, is it possible Android users and iOS users will reach parity?
The Conversion Gap: iOS vs Android
To gain insights into the online shopping behavior of Android phone users versus iPhone users, we analyzed over 355 million mobile sessions from a subset of our customers whose e-commerce sites we power.
First, we looked at the difference in conversion rates between Android and iOS smartphone users over the last several quarters. We defined a conversion as a transaction, and the conversion rate as the transactions divided by mobile sessions.
Our goal was to see, of the Android phone users and iPhone users who visit a mobile site, how many make a purchase?
The data yielded some interesting insights about the behavior of mobile shoppers based on whether they owned an Android phone or an iPhone.
The first was a confirmation of the traditional gap between iOS and Android conversion rates on smartphones. For Q4 2013 to Q1 2015, we found that iPhone shoppers were on average 1.2 times more likely to make an online purchase than Android shoppers.
But the second, even more interesting insight was the trend over time. Over the last six quarters, the difference between iOS conversions and Android conversions has been generally decreasing. Android shoppers when compared to iOS shoppers have become increasingly more likely to make a purchase.
One data point which was particularly striking was that in Q1 of this year, there was only a 5% difference between conversion rates for Android and iOS. An iPhone shopper is now only slightly more likely to make an online purchase than an Android phone shopper.
This 5% conversion rate gap is significantly lower than the average Android-iOS conversion rate gap of 20% over the previous quarters and the 31% conversion rate gap at the end of 2013. What we were most interested in comparing to the Q1 2015 conversion rate gap, however, was the gap during the same time period last year.
A Huge Jump Year-Over-Year
When we compared Q1 of this year to Q1 of last year, what we saw was that the difference in e-commerce conversion rates between Android and iOS shrank by a massive 75%. In 2014, the gap between the conversion rate for Android users and the conversion rate for iOS users was 20%. One year later, the gap between the conversion rates is just 5%.
Another interesting way to look at this data is that whereas in Q1 2014 an iPhone user was 25% more likely to make a purchase than an Android phone user, this year an iPhone user is only 6% more likely to buy. The odds of an Android shopper making a purchase compared to an iPhone shopper making a purchase are increasing.
The Closing Gap in Revenue Per Session
Now, m-commerce sites of course want their mobile users to be more likely to make a purchase. But ideally they also want mobile shoppers to spend more. And Android users have a track record of not only converting at a lower rate than iOS users, they have also been shown to spend less on average.
Naturally, we were curious to see if there was a similar trend of Android phone users catching up to iPhone users when it came to revenue per session.
What we found is that not only is the difference in conversion rates between Android users and iOS users decreasing, but the difference in the amount they spend is shrinking as well.
In Q1, the gap between Android shoppers and iPhone shoppers decreased 40% year-over-year. iPhone users are still outspending Android phone users, but they’re now doing so by a smaller margin.
To frame the difference in spend between Android and iOS users a bit differently, in 2014, for every dollar an Android phone user spent, an iPhone user spent $1.18. Today that gap has shrunk. For every dollar an Android user spends, an iPhone user spends $1.10.
Android Can Trump iOS
On average iPhone users do in fact convert at a higher rate than Android phone users. But conversion rates actually vary greatly by device. A number of Android phones actually have higher conversion rates than iPhones.
One potential factor contributing to higher iPhone conversions is that iPhone users have been found to be more engaged in mCommerce than Android phone users. Forrester Research reported that 69% of iPhone owners use their devices to make online purchases, whereas only 53% of Android users turn to their smartphones to shop.
Another very commonly cited factor driving higher conversions for iOS over Android is that iPhones have a higher average price tag. iPhone users have been found to be wealthier than Android users and are therefore are more likely to shop and spend more. But as we see with certain higher end Android devices, users of some Android devices are converting at rates near or above those of iPhone users.
What Comes Next?
iOS users remain more valuable than Android users, but the historical gap between the rival platforms is closing. Some Android phone users are already converting at higher rates than iPhone users.
And on average, Android phone users are now converting at just 5% less than iPhone users, after a 75% decrease in the Android-iOS gap year-over-year in the last quarter.
Will the gap between conversion rates on Android and iOS continue to shrink in the coming quarters? That remains to be seen.
What is clear now is that the widely accepted fact that iPhone users are worth more than Android phone users is not the whole story. iOS users may still be more valuable than Android users, but Android is gaining ground.