Google’s Android profits: ‘40% of a little is a lot less’

May 15, 2012, 1:10 PM UTC


FORTUNE — As part of an extended look at what he calls Google’s (GOOG) “Android economics,” Asymco‘s Horace Dediu on Monday published what may be the first independent estimate of the company’s Android income statement.

As the chart at right shows, Android generates revenue for Google through three kinds of ad sales (Google’s Search, AdSense and AdMob). After costs and revenue sharing are taken out, there is some profit left over for Google: roughly $2.75 per Android device per year, according to Dediu.

Is that a lot? To put his numbers in perspective, Dediu on Tuesday posted a chart comparing Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone income for the first three months of 2011 with Google’s estimated Android income for the full year.

Because the Android chart is dwarfed to near invisibility by Apple’s, Dediu posted the scaled up version copied below. To understand what’s going on, you’ll probably have to see the Asmyco charts at their proper scale. Click here.

As Dediu writes:

“As various members of the Android ecosystem are rewarded from the 40% revenue share of Android, it would be important to consider the scales involved in these illustrations when considering the influence Google exerts. It could be argued that Google’s spreading of wealth from search creates strong incentives for participation in its ecosystem.

“However, there is little wealth created. 40% of a little is a lot less.”

The 4 X scale charts below. If you look closely, you can see the Android chart we showed above at the center of the image below, near the bottom.