iOS 7: A Stud or Dud for Mobile Advertising?

With hardly an utterance of mobile advertising on stage at San Francisco’s Moscone Center yesterday for the start of Apple’s 24th annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple came up short on articulating how iOS 7 will benefit the mobile advertising needs of the very developers that have populated the Apple App Store with some 900,000 applications.

“It’s like they’ve raised the white flag,” says Dane Keelghan, an iOS application developer who admits to having grown frustrated by Apple’s apparent “lack of concern” about how developers get paid in an environment where it’s getting harder to sell apps.

“They talk about how much they’ve paid out in total to developers, and it sounds like a ton, but there are so many of us making so many apps that we’re really not feeling like we’re sharing in the riches,” Keelghan says.

According to the veteran developer, Apple’s introduction of its new ad-supported iTunes Radio service is further evidence that the company is scaling back its original mobile ad ambitions now that Apple has largely failed to make a dent against Google Inc. in the $4.11 billion domestic mobile ad market the search giant still dominates.

Keelghan says he is among the rapidly expanding number of app developers seeking and finding optimal mobile monetization opportunities away from Apple and the entire iOS ecosystem.

So, when it comes to mobile advertising today, where is all the action? The evidence continues to point to Android.

During the first quarter of 2013, Android claimed more than half of all ad impressions on the Millennial Media ad network. Android accounted for 52 percent, compared to just 39 percent for iOS.

“In the world of mobile advertising,” says Erica Ogg of Gigaom, citing data from Opera Mediaworks, “Android phones reached a significant milestone during the fourth quarter of 2012: they drove more mobile advertising impressions than iPhones during a quarter, for the first time ever.”

Prior to the major Android-related mobile ad achievements that filled the 2012 calendar year, a massive segment of the developer community did not view Android as a potential cash cow for mobile advertising. Even today, despite the undeniable progress Android has made, most believe the platform is yet to even scratch the surface of its ultimate mobile advertising potential.

“Google still thinks of Android as very young, even though it has been on the market for nearly five years and in development since 2005,” said Dan Rowinski of ReadWrite after Google’s I/O last month. “If Android itself is a baby, that makes the developer tools and monetization techniques Google has been pushing nearly newborn.”

The smartest developers poised to earn the most, Keelghan argues, are those with their eyes trained squarely on Android’s maturation.

“Google realizes it still has developer issues with Android, from app discovery to user retention to the fundamental act of getting developers paid,” Rowinski adds. “But if we learned anything at I/O last week, it is that Google is aware of these problems and working hard to address them. In fact, almost every Android announcement at I/O last week was aimed at boosting Android’s standing among developers by addressing its perceived shortcomings vis-a-vis iOS.”