With most smartphones offering similar hardware features, the key differentiator for a customer using his mobile is the software. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems from the two giants go in four out of every five smartphones. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 and Blackberry OS make up for the rest.
What makes an app developer keen on developing content for one platform over the other?
Here are some reasons:
Scale: Apple has pioneered the mobile applications ecosystem and was far ahead of competition initially. More than 1,000,000 applications are on Apple’s App Store with users collectively downloading them more than 30 billion times. Android has caught up at a rapid pace and now Google Play Store clocks more than 700,000 applications.
Quality: The reason Apple’s iOS is the chosen destination for developers is because the ROI for developer efforts is proven and huge. App developers find the iOS quick and responsive. The platform encourages you to make your app extremely responsive with simple transitions and animations. There is less piracy and customers on iOS pay for the quality downloads as they find the applications are well designed and debugged. Jelly Bean, the latest Android release has been pretty robust and matches/exceeds iOS capabilities.
Engagement: Developers tend to gravitate towards iOS as their lead platform for developing apps as “iPhone/iPad users are still considered by many to be the most engaged of users, and so it’s a good testing ground for new products”. Apple has been adept at providing superior user experience by creating its own software and hardware resulting in tighter control of the finished product. Android on the other hand has enabled a huge smartphone vendor ecosystem with varying hardware specification, fragmentation and the user experience varies from device to device.
Target Market: Size of the market addressed by the app matters a lot. And here geography is a key factor. For example, if an app is targeted to developing world, Android has a much higher share of the market than iOS. The market share split between the two platforms is more balanced among US and European users.
Developers have a plethora of choices in terms of the ecosystem they’d like to be part of. When an app written for one platform receives good reviews and $$$, it takes comparatively lesser effort to migrate the same app concept to another platform. Correspondingly, while building your app for the second platform is not trivial at all, the cost involved in terms of time-to-market and money is often dramatically lower.