Hey geeks! Is the enthusiasm over Android becoming the next Windows and conquering the world overrated? With Android commanding 52% of the market opposed to the 41% market share for iPhone (The Next Web), why are so many apps iPhone only? Is device fragmentation as the most cited problem for Android developers what actually prevents others from joining the community or is it the pure business logic of being an iOS developer that wins the game over Android? Would Captain America choose Android if he was a developer? Let’s check it out.
In July of 2013, Open Signal published a look at the state of Android fragmentation. They found that there were 11,868 distinct Android devices, and only 37.9% of these devices were using Android Jelly Bean – then the most current Android build. I still cannot trust my eyes while reading this. Apple on the other hand has done a pretty good job of keeping the fragmentation on the form factor front to a minimum.
Market fragmentation leads to lack of knowledge in what the potential revenue is in different global android market. For example, how many developers knew (apart from Captain America if he was a Android developer) that #1 game or app on store (android market run by a Korean carrier exclusively for Korean users) would earn $50,000 per day? (Talking about Flappy Bird here) This is bigger than most apple app store markets. Japan, in fact, has bigger android markets which most developers are just unaware of.
The good news is that there seems to be a dedication in permanent resolution of this problem (thanks Tech Faster). Check Droid is a native Android application that would allow even developers like Captain America to get their Android apps to market exponentially faster as it automatically tests against the various builds. The development tool provides error reports that outline the major errors across all 11,000+ Android configurations. If you want to know more about this solution, check the video below:
The biggest barrier to entry for many developers into the world of Android is the Android SDK. Even Captain America would consider it too cumbersome to setup for a lot of people, which is frustrating when you just want to jump in a get some work done. A streamlined SDK installation app would make a big difference. Our team of developers also consider iOS comparatively easier development & testing – number of devices to support on iOS are lesser, and hardware is by one manufacturer only and that brings a lot of difference.
Add revenue (per user)
Developers are always more interested in developing for platform which brings them more money, and iOS is still winning in that aspect (Tech Ahead). Android users not only spend less time looking for apps, they tend to stick with the free ad based ones. Part of that may be that iOS device owners tend to have more money but it may simply be that the apps inspected by Apple just tend to be better and more refined.
Source: Mobiloitte’s Insight Center
From a business perspective the iOS market is sufficiently large to support a very successful business model based on product development, freelance consulting, or enterprise development. It will remain sufficiently large for at least the next 5 years. Even if Android were to be dominant, the overall cell phone market is huge and the iOS market share will remain large enough to support many careers.
Initially Google has done a very poor job of connecting to developers the best practices for user experience and design. The result is a lot of the apps that started with Android as the look and feel seem kind of jumbled in usability and design.
Apple on the other hand has set very clear guidelines for how an app should look and behave and stresses that apps should behave more or less alike. As a result the apps that start on iPhone and then port to Android have some benefits of leveraging certain UI concepts.
In the UK, the iPhone is seen as a premium product. It is purchased by people with high incomes or people who want to be seen as having high incomes. These people are much more likely to be paying for apps impulsively. The Android devices have been bought by more budget conscious buyers and those more tech aware and their app sales are much lower. That said, things are changing as the Android user base is growing massively and Android phones are becoming seen as fashion acceptable.
Distribution and marketing
To date the iPhone has a better distribution mechanism in the App Store than Android. The user experience in the app store is uniform and simple. Assuming your app starts to break through some of the major thresholds (top 25 in its category for instance) or becomes featured by Apple you can see same really great traction. The Android Marketplace initial problem was bad user experience, but now backed up by Google this problem is on it’s way to permanent and innovative resolution.
Another variable Android will have to resolve in future is being an open source platform that typically associates itself with freeware.
The nature of Android being an open source platform, makes it freely deployed to many handsets, including powerful and cheap ones, so the $100 phone buyer, will not purchase apps, however iPhone $500~$800 users, are perfectly capable of purchasing applications, as a matter of fact they are intended to.
Combine with the fact that cheap smart phones come with low pixel resolution, density and hardware, making it hard to justify the paid apps, which usually are enjoyable on larger screens and better hardware. You can see the vicious circle right?
And finally, iOS apps development is far more enjoyable for development. The tools are sophisticated, the language is agreeable, the documentation is well done, and the end result is consistently beautiful. Developer or non-developer, you simply cannot argue with that.
It seems that the market will have the final word and will keep on redirecting the community of mobile app developers in the upcoming months or years. One thing is certain – the Third World is rising up, embracing technology. On the current level of growth their first choice would probably be the Android hardware and app ecosystem due to it’s economical rationale. That all together delivers a lot of great promises for Android.
What are your views?
Do you think that Android as platform with leading market share will also find a practical to redefine itself as more lucrative platform for its members?
Can we expect Windows Phone to join the equation soon?
Share your thoughts in comments
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