iOS enjoys 3-1 advantage over Android in app starts, revenue

Despite the confident words of Google (s goog) chairman Eric Schmidt, who predicted that Android would be the primary platform for developers by next year, the current trends are still decidedly leaning toward iOS (s aapl). That’s according to mobile analytics firm Flurry, which looked at developer commitments between iOS and Android over the past year.

Flurry projected that 73 percent of fourth quarter app starts will be by iOS developers compared to 27 percent for Android. That’s based on the first month of the fourth quarter. That would be slightly less than the 75 percent Apple had in the third quarter but on par with the second quarter when it also had 73 percent of app starts. Android actually had its best quarter in the first quarter, when it got 37 percent of app starts.

This data was pulled from new project starts in 2011, in which developers set up analytics for approximately 50,000 apps. Flurry said it’s used in about 25 percent of all iOS and Android apps.

On the revenue side, the comparison also favors iOS by a 3-1 ratio. Flurry found that for top apps running on both platforms, for every dollar generated on iOS, the same app will make 24 cents on Android. This is based on a sample of in-app purchases of top apps comprising millions of users on both platforms. Flurry said the big difference came down to the relatively lower penetration of Google Checkout. Compared to an iTunes account, which every iOS user needs to buy anything, not every Android user has a Google Checkout account, which adds an extra barrier to purchases of apps and in-app transactions.

Google has still a lot to crow about. As we’ve written, it’s hit 10 billion in Android app downloads and it appears to have pushed past iOS in the pace of recent downloads. Flurry estimates that 550,000 Android devices are now activated daily compared to an estimated 450,000 for iOS.

But the numbers show that it’s not just about device market share or the aggregate number of downloads. It’s about which users are more valuable to developers. There is still more of a culture of buying and spending money on iOS and that benefits Apple. Even Amazon with its Kindle Fire is proving to be a popular option for Android developers because those early tablet users appear to be open to buying a lot of things.

Google is working on this and its steps to integrate Google Checkout and Google Wallet are helpful. Also, moves to get new Android users to enter their credit card information when they set up their phone will be beneficial. And as the Android device market share continues to grow, developers can’t ignore the big opportunity there. But it looks like iOS is still very much their priority and despite the wishful thinking of Schmidt, it’s going to take a lot for Android to win the hearts of developers.