Why can’t publishers get their Android users engaged?

Another set of media sales and usage figures indicates that the iOS audience is vastly more engaged, and out-performs Android in terms of traffic. Yet Android has the lion’s share of the market. Why is this?

Apple vs Android appears to have taken the primary position in tech debates on the web that used to be occupied by PC versus Linux, as Mathew Ingram found out recently when he wrote about changing his phone, and as Games Workshop are finding out with their decision to make books for iPad not Android devices.

The big mystery for the publishing industry though is just why iOS users are so much more engaged and valuable to their businesses than Android users, and more figures came out supporting that came out of the Digital Media Strategies conference this week.

Emma Fulton of News International revealed that “Android accounts for only 2 per cent views to The Times”, and Jon Bernstein of the Press Gazette also reported her saying that 87% of tablet and smartphone traffic to The Times is from Apple devices.

Stu Goulden tweeted some figures given out about the Sun at the same event — iOS users read 5x more articles, view 2x pages per visit, and watch 3x videos than Android users do.

These figures tally with the expectations set by the talks I saw back in October at the World Publishing Expo. In Germany, Stern’s print edition has a circulation of 800,000. They have 16,000 digital subscribers, with 1,000 single sale downloads weekly. Android sales only make up around 5% of the total.

Likewise, The Next Web stopped production on their Android magazine, after finding that “for every Android user that downloads an Android magazine we have 80 iOS downloads.”

Android enthusiasts often argue that publishers not making great products available is a reason for low take-up, but even when titles have been offered in parity, the skew for both download and usage figures is heavily in favour of iOS. I’d love to get the opportunity to really research why this is…

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