Why Android First is a Myth

Posted on: October 20, 2013
Posted in Mobile, Strategy

In mobile, particularly in consumer markets, there has been an ongoing debate about when or if Android will become the first platform that sophisticated startups develop for. Often times, this argument is wrongly centered around vanity metrics for Android such as worldwide shipments or installed base of each platform.

The reality is that platform constraints at the engineering and financing levels tell a much different story. “Android-first” faces structural and financial barriers which are unlikely to be overcome. iOS will remain the primary platform that startups develop for regardless of how much more quickly Android grows share. Here are the reasons why:

  1. In the US, iOS market share is still extremely strong (even pre-iPhone 5s launch data showed Android having peaked, so Q4 data will be interesting with Apple’s refresh). Since the vast majority of innovative mobile startups come out of the US, Apple’s stronghold domestically has an absolutely massive impact on developer mindshare—e.g. even if China gains another 400M subscribers this year, this fundamental fact won’t change.
  2. All of my conversations over the past year with Android developers, 3rd party dev shops, more mature startups developing on both platforms and investors confirm a simple hard reality: building and releasing on Android costs 2-3x more than iOS. This is due to a multitude of reasons: less sophisticated tools, generally more cumbersome APIs, fewer exposed advanced features, enormous QA issues brought on by fragmentation, etc. The rough rule of thumb is for every iOS engineer you actually need two Android engineers—or twice the development time.
  3. The effort required to build and release an app is severely gated by capital-raising. Today’s startup seed rounds typically range between $800K to $1.2M. With that amount of capital, startups are expected to not only release a polished app, but also show demonstrable traction before raising capital again (generally 5-10x the user traction versus what was required a few years ago).
  4. These structural limitations around capital raising for venture-backed companies force startups to take a non-linear path to development which is gated by fundraising—the types of milestones that a company must hit to raise a seed round (great founding team, big market, good idea) are radically different than at the Series A round (significant traction, repeatable user acquisition strategy, early ideas toward monetization, etc).
  5. To build a mobile app with $1M in capital, a startup can roughly afford to hire one designer, one client developer (iOS or Android) and one back end engineer. Often the technical co-founder is a hybrid back-end engineer and the business founder plays a hybrid product role. This will allow the startup around 18 months with which to release a mobile app and demonstrate product-market fit.
  6. Almost zero startups are going Android-first under these constraints.1. Why? Because founders know they have an extremely high bar to prove traction on the primary platform, before they can raise additional financing and accelerate into two platforms. The second platform basically looks like a step function at Series A. (e.g. go iOS with the seed round, show traction, raise an A round, then build for Android).2.
  7. So it’s well known in tech circles today that seed round sizes constrain app development to a single primary platform. And startups are choosing to go iOS first not only because development is cheaper and easier, but also because money for in-app purchases and advertising is overwhelmingly skewed toward iOS . In fact, a recent study of Facebook ads shows ads were 1,790% more profitable on iOS. This is extremely incriminating for Android and is the worst kind of news for Google. Money and time spent in Android is simply not catching up.
  8. Since iOS better supports startups’ ability to prove metrics requisite for raising Series A rounds from institutional investors, the earliest most innovative services are almost always available first on iOS. And since the lag between seed and A rounds is often 12-18 months, Android tends to lag this far too. Of course many of these innovative startups produce beautiful apps but don’t get traction, and fail to fundraise again.
  9. For every seed-funded startup which successfully raises a series A, about 80-90% die trying. One by-product of these capital constraints proves particularly interesting: often these startups become acquihires for the top mobile acquirers (FB, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Dropbox, etc). Because they are almost always shutdown at acquihire, big companies often have some of the most talented iOS engineers and product people in residence for a 1 to 2 year earn-out period. Without a doubt, these employees skew toward iOS when they join internal projects or think up new ideas. And when they eventually leave, there is a good chance they’ll stick with iOS again. There is no doubt this forms a sort of virtuous circle of iOS-first talent in the startup community.

While in theory Android provides a very modern platform for mobile development, the realities around Android-first are quite different. Startups simply cannot afford to bypass iOS and go Android out of the gate. One could even argue the gap is widening.

Uninformed people who reference innovation frameworks often like to declare that the mobile market has matured to the point of being “good enough”. I disagree.  The reality is that software innovation at the app layer is accelerating, and converged hardware / software development costs a lot of money.

We all know that creating valuable mobile services is extremely difficult—but it’s interesting that today iOS is still far ahead when we take into account the relationship between development costs and available financing. And because Android lags so much here, to me this is further evidence that platform parity and “good enough” in mobile may be a long ways off.


  1. There are always exceptions. One is Grand St, which has a founding team with extremely strong Android DNA 

  2. Third platforms like Windows Phone are ignored even after the company is much bigger. Major companies like Instagram and Pinterest still don’t have Windows Phone apps 

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  • Walt French

    Steve, I’m sympathetic to the logic, but wonder about any metrics of how many firms go the different directions.

    As a SWAG, your startup needs 18 months to get a product out there. Let’s suppose it starts getting traction.

    Immediately, about fifty similar products can get a tweak to capture some of your app’s feature set, and you need network effects to get users to coalesce around your app. It’s unlikely you’ll find some new feature that’ll further lock in users, so you want to grab early adopters STAT.

    That might mean getting the word out for iOS users, as the virtuous cycle you describe where people who want fresh apps come to iOS. Or, if you’re going bigger/broader, you’ll want to get an Android version out quickly. At this time, you’ve got a bit more of a base and you can afford to risk hiring extra and even much higher-priced talent to turn around a port faster than you would’ve if time were not identified as important.

    It looks like it comes down to how many apps make it through various stations of the gauntlet. Again, your logic about the culture for those who give up control of their apps (failure or acquihire), sounds just right. But is it really the case that the app world moves so quickly that a firm doesn’t have the time to grow more organically, while the market recognizes and grows with the app?

  • Chaka10

    This is one of the best analysis in this space that I’ve read (and I read a whole lot of them). Thanks!

    “… simple hard reality: building and releasing on Android costs 2-3x more than iOS”. This hard truth matter not just in the startup space, but also in the enterprise/institutional space, eg in development of custom/bespoke apps (see Good report).

  • Daniel So

    “All of my conversations over the past year with Android developers, 3rd party dev shops, more mature startups developing on both platforms and investors confirm a simple hard reality: building and releasing on Android costs 2-3x more than iOS. This is due to a multitude of reasons: less sophisticated tools, generally more cumbersome APIs, fewer exposed advanced features, enormous QA issues brought on by fragmentation, etc. The rough rule of thumb is for every iOS engineer you actually need two Android engineers—or twice the development time.”

    Don’t agree with this, especially the 2-3x number. Might have been true in 2011, but not in 2013. Let me go over this piece by piece:

    – Less sophisticated tools: Sorry, I don’t think XCode is that much better than Eclipse or Visual Studio. Even if XCode is better, it’s not that much better. Plus, developers should be more familiar with the Android coding environment if they learned the “traditional” way of C –> C++ –> Java. Objective C is usually learned later.
    – More cumbersome APIs: Again, this might have been true in 2011, not anymore. Google Play Store API 3.0 outclasses iOS’s in many regards, especially with things like Managed IAPs.
    – Fewer exposed advanced features: sure?
    – QA issues: this was once again a very serious issue in 2011. Not so much anymore.

    • Blameebner

      You may not agree with it, but the reality is still iOS over Android. Is it because of the bad press from 2011 that now in 2013 we still don’t see these new tools being used properly? What about all the different flavors of Android (Touch Wiz, Sense), would that not be an issue as well?

      • Daniel So

        Well, I do agree that the reality is still iOS over Android. I just don’t agree with the purported 2-3x cost difference that’s being bandied about here.

        The reason why I keep bringing up 2011 as a reference point is not because of the press, but because of how bad things were for Android back then. Not only was the Android Market API a piece of crap, but you also had really bad fragmentation. After all, when you develop for anything you have to be backwards compatible with 2 year old technology. (Apple does the same). And so even if 2011 Android Devices were semi-decent, there was this backlog of badness that had to be accounted for — PLUS gingerbread, which screwed up everything for tablets.

        But things have improved a lot for Android since 2011. Fragmentation is limited to resolution size (which is easy to handle with things like ‘responsive design’ and stuff) and maybe some internals like heap memory (huge problem for older devices) and graphics cards, but for the most part the tech in the majority of our phones today is good enough. There are issues with Android forks, of course, but Touchwiz and Sense are trivial for apps since most supersede the phone’s UI. Plus, Ice Cream Sandwich did a pretty good job of standardizing the Tablet/Phone interfaces, which is a far cry from the Gingerbread nightmares.

        So now, in 2013, you’re starting to see the results of the all-around decency of Android that began in 2011. When you develop or test for 2-year-old tech now, for the most part there’s no real issues.

        • Michael Langford

          >I just don’t agree with the purported 2-3x cost difference that’s being bandied about here

          For teams that do QA and equivalent levels of polish, I wholeheartedly agree with this 2-3x cost profile. For teams that allow less capable/polished android versions because android has fewer constraints on screen size and GPUs, you may see lower than those cost ranges.

          >After all, when you develop for anything you have to be backwards compatible with 2 year old technology. (Apple does the same)

          No, Apple developers typically develop for the current major version of the OS and current major version -1 at most. 9 months into a new versions of the OS, >90% of iOS users are are the latest version.

          Most android shops are 2x that many versions at least.

          Now yes, you *are* supporting older phones (iPhone 4 can crawl right now), but they are in the *great* minority of phones, unlike android which is about 15% high end, tons of mid level, and tons of utter crap phones as far as processing power, size and graphics go.

        • Mel Gross

          No, you need to support the various SoCs out there as well. With Samsung, the same phone can use two different SoC’s depending on where it’s being sold.

          It’s a far more complex situation than you’re stating.

      • tymcode

        TouchWiz and Sense aren’t flavors, they’re overlays. They usually don’t affect compatibility or really even design choices. Kindle is more of a flavor of Android, as you describe, as are many custom ROMs.

        However, manufacturers, carriers and different OS versions do support hardware-based services in different ways. OpenGL, audio and video codecs, and file storage (how “external” storage is accessed if it’s installed) are all a pain in my ass, requiring a tremendous amount of my QA time. QA is and probably always will be loads easier on iOS.

    • TheBasicMind

      There is only one significant reason for the additional cost. Fragmentation and it’s effect on development and QA. This is a huge, huge issue for Android and it is getting worse. I have spent my entire professional career managing larger scale software integration projects on STB’s and have extensive experience supporting QA across multiple devices. You are never sufficiently abstracted from the hardware that you can get away without doing per device testing (if you are a large QA shop you can identify classes io devices and chipset and take informed risks and remove some of the burden of testing on multiple devices, but doing so will always come at the cost of increase risk of QA failures). There are so many ways device specific implementation idiosyncrasies leak through it’s not funny.

      • Daniel So

        do you really think it’s getting worse though? I personally think it’s getting better. I think ICS really helped bridge the phone/tablet divide. And I think internal specs are starting to see diminishing marginal returns in terms of performance, if not battery life. This makes it so you don’t have disaster scenarios where you have to check the heap memory of 500 individual devices to see if it can run your game like I had to do back in 2011 haha

        • kgelner

          If you think there is no difference between phone and tablet UI, your interface has already failed one (or both) sets of users.

        • Shawn Dehkhodaei

          And what percentage of the installed base is on ICS? or Jelly Bean? Those two combined still make up LESS than 50% of the installed base.

    • http://www.fizzylogic.nl/ Willem Meints

      I don’t agree fully with your claims that Android has improved. Yes, it has improved over the past two years. However, most phones don’t have these APIs on board since most of them still run Android 2.x

      That means for me as a developer that I can’t use the new stuff, because I have to support the old stuff. There are a number of compatbility layers available, but they still give me a major headache everytime I have to test the app.

      • Daniel So

        Hey I have a meeting to run to so I’ll throw some quick data:

        http://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html

        As you can see, about 30 percent of Android users use 2.x. These are the users that do not care and do not purchase anything anyways, so if I were to give you advice I’d say just forget them and build for ICS

        • Pieter

          So if we ignore that 30%, it seems that the often tauted installed base of Androids is suddenly similar to the installed base of iOS?

          • Daniel So

            maybe in the states?
            anyways, different argument.

        • Michael Langford

          That’s an incredibly tough argument to sell to non-technical stakeholders.

          • http://www.christinacacioppo.com Christina Cacioppo

            i think it gets easier when you start sketching out what it takes to get apps to work on Android pre-4.0. save a few exceptions (e.g. facebook) it’s probably not worth it.

          • meliorist

            It’s easy to make apps work on pre-4.0. What may be slightly difficult is to make those apps offer a 4.x style of UX, and achieve a consistent UX across Android versions without having to duplicate code. The Android Development Tools include support libraries that help you do this.

          • http://www.christinacacioppo.com Christina Cacioppo

            gets much harder when you start touching the phone’s hardware (e.g. camera, orientation sensors, light sensors) though.

          • meliorist

            90% of apps don’t use any unusual hardware features, though.

          • Idon’t Know

            Hah….hilarious and not remotely true.

          • meliorist

            Are you an Android developer? Thought not.

        • Neil Nimkar

          The link only takes into account phones that have accessed the Play store in the last 7 days (of being published). This is NOT the same number as the 80% market share stat. We don’t know how many Android phones sold access the Play store. 56-ish% of phones use 4.x.. but we have no clue how many devices that actually is.

        • melci

          Apple revealed that prior to the launch of iOS 7, 93% of iPhones were running iOS 6, a far more modern and advanced API set than Android 2.3.

          Only 564,000 Android devices are running the 2 month old Android v4.3 and only 49 million Android devices are running the nearly 12 month old v4.2.

          This compares to 200 million iOS devices running iOS 7.0 after only 3 days. As a benchmark, the year-old iOS 6 was on close to 500 million iOS devices worldwide up until the release of iOS 7.

          • meliorist

            4.0 is the one Android developers care about, since it’s easy to target 4.0 and up. Over 2/3rds of devices visiting the Android Play store are 4.0 and up, and that’s probably considerably more than 500 million, since there are over a billion official (activated via Google) Android devices in the wild.

          • GreedEggsandHam

            Are you assuming every Android sold is still in use? Do you know anyone still using a three year old android? How about a two year old android? I suspect they are all trashed after three years (with the GSIII being the first one that might have a longer life), while iPhones get resold and live on in the secondary market.

          • meliorist

            The rate at which Android is growing means that nearly all Android phones ever sold are less than three years old, and the vast majority are less than two years old. In Q2 this year, 177 million Android smartphones were sold. In the whole of 2009, just 6.7 million were sold. Therefore, it’s fair to assume that nearly all Android phones are still in use.

          • Jack Zahran

            Many of those phones are still running Android 2.x since they are low-end feature phone replacements.

          • meliorist

            Yes, 30% are on 2.x, as has already been pointed out. 69.2% are on 4.x.

          • Jack Zahran

            You miss my point. The majority of Android phones being sold today are lower end, feature phone replacements and they are running older versions of Android.

          • meliorist

            First, we have already established that the majority are running 4.x, so why are you still arguing? Anyway, anything lower than 2.3 is rare in the wild, and 2.3 is a very capable OS, albeit less slick than 4.x.

            Second, “Low end” compared to the iPhone (the 4s starts at $450 outright, and the 5s at $650), covers a lot of things. You can get phones for $200 (outright, that is – not contract price) from companies like ZTE and Huawei that are comparable to the iPhone 4s in features, and these are certainly being used by most owners to run apps and games, and access internet services.

            Third, the existence of low end smartphones is a great thing. It’s changing the world. From China to India and Nigeria to Namibia, people are using these phones to enter the internet age. The global digital divide is disappearing fast, and Apple is contributing absolutely zip to this process.

      • bat9991

        Yes, it has improved, and it is far better than iOS.
        Android is built from the ground up with the ability to support multiple versions, and different devices, iOS on the other hand does not.

        I can tell you first hand that our Android development is far faster and more cost effective than iOS, with iOS you have to count for different devices (iPad, iPhone 3s and 4s then 5, iPad mini) and so on, all this can be handled super easy on Android fragments, on iOS… good luck.
        Versioning on iOS is a hell, you have to often use reflection to support older and newer OSes, don’t tell me that everyone is on the latest iOS, because they aren’t. We are not simply going to dump 10% of the iOS user base especially that it is small piece of the pie to begin with.

        Finally, I don’t understand what you mean by “new stuff”??
        There is something called support library that gives you support of most new features on older devices. There is also something called Google Services, which most of the work is being done there which means that everyone has it regardless of OS version.

        • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

          200 million after three days. No, not everyone is on iOS7. But more than there are Galaxy phones in the world.

      • Mathieu

        Wrong. All Android 2.2+ devices have the latest API thanks to the Google Play Services automatically deployed by the Google Play.
        Also, free libraries let you develop Android 4+ style that works on Android 2.x easily.

        What is hard to do on Android is do a carbon copy of an iOS app look & feel & navigation … a lot of companies are making the mistake to over-design their apps and that doesn’t make these apps more successful because in the long run, the simplicity and ease of use is what matters to make an app successful.

        But maybe, most iOS apps are juste made for a quick success and not for the long run.

    • ESeufert

      QA is still very much a thorn in the side of Android developers. And you didn’t mention development costs, which are much higher on Android given the multitude of screen sizes that need to be covered.

      Also, the article didn’t speak to this, but user acquisition costs on Android are about 80% of those on iOS, whereas I haven’t heard of many Android apps achieving 80% monetization of their iOS counterparts with IAPs. This is partly due to the fact that very few ad networks support per-device targeting.

      • bat9991

        QA is at par with iOS.
        There is a handful of Android devices that gets you to 90% of market share, and in reality iOS has the same number of devices (iPhone 3, 3GS, 4, 4s, 5, 5s, 5c, iPad 1,2,3,4,mini, iPod Touch…)

        Just remember that you can target your device when you publish, it takes few seconds to do that, nobody has to test on every single Android device out there.

        As for monetization, lets not kid ourselves, the money is not in ads, nor is it in paid apps, this whole idea that the AppStore is making developers money is a myth. $2 billion a year in a trillion dollar industry is a drop in a bucket. 99% of successful startups have free apps.

        • ESeufert

          This is just verifiably untrue. For most ad networks, you cannot target ads at the device level. And free apps are exactly what I’m talking about — in freemium apps, Android users do not monetize nearly as well as iOS users, yet the cost almost the same to acquire.

          • bat9991

            I don’t think you understood what I meant. By free apps, I mean free, no ads.
            Ad revenue is pathetically small on iOS or Android.
            Successful apps have no ads and are free

          • Michael Kariv

            How would you define success then? Free apps no ads, how do they make money?

          • bat9991

            Apps that are built with a business model that doesn’t depend on 99c or 1 cent per click.

            To name a few, Instagram, Forsquare, Twitter, Facebook, Zillow, Trulia, Bank apps… all of which have billions in revenue, as opposed to 99% of paid apps that will never break even.
            If you think the AppStore revenue is anything but a drop in a bucket, you haven’t been in the software industry.

          • Jens T.

            Most of the companies you mentioned don’t have any revenue. They are sitting on a dwindling pile of VC money and desperately searching for ways to monetize their user base. I don’t think that this route is a valid approach for most indie developers.

          • bat9991

            Huh? All the companies I mentioned are have tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, something you cannot achieve with 99cents nor ads (except for game developers)

        • tymcode

          Would you mind telling me what that handful of Android devices is? Because that would be REALLY helpful to me.

          Seriously, we get device statistics from our app’s activation database. And while it’s clear that Samsung dominates massively, even limiting your support to the mighty Galaxy S series only gets you to about 56%. And supporting, say the “Galaxy S II” (easily the world’s most popular Android phone) involves supporting some 18 variants, many with different GPUs, screen resolutions and media playback capabilities.

          The other 44 percent are scattered across hundreds of handsets from dozens of manufacturers with few clear winners.

          If you’re developing software with any hardware dependencies, there is no way you can say that iOS and Android QA are on par. The 12 or 13 devices Apple supports is a walk in the park by comparison, no matter how you slice it.

          • bat9991

            From our stats, if you cover Samsung devices (mostly Galaxy), Nexus phones, Sony Experia that puts you around 80%. Most of these devices are exactly the same, just rebranded for different markets. If you add in tablets, it would probably double your devices, but obviously you can choose not to support these devices.
            Even with your 56% of Android devices is still far bigger than iOS user base.

            And if your app is designed properly using sound Android design principles (not ported spaghetti code from iOS) it will work like a charm, you don’t have to test on every single model.

            I am speaking from experience here, I build apps for both Android and iOS, and I can tell you it is a that it is far easier to build and test Android because the platform lends itself for different devices. iOS targeting is totally a pain. A good example is that not a single app worked full screen on my iPhone5 when it first came out. iOS is simply not designed for different devices.

            One funny example is my iOS dev once asked me how to I deploy an Android app that he just built, I said run it… he looked at me confused, what do you mean run it? If you built iOS you know what I mean.

          • Nick Hayday

            If none of your apps worked full screen when the iPhone 5 came out, I’d say you must be hardcoding screen sizes, all mine were fine.

          • Jack Zahran

            “56% of Android devices is still far bigger than iOS user base.”

            Even if that was true, very few of them are buying Apps and that is the point.

          • Daniel So

            pro tip: before you release anything Android, send it over to the Samsung App Store first. They will compatibility QA check your app on all Samsung devices for all countries for almost all carriers up to the last two years, for free. I know cuz that was exactly the work I did.

            Why would Samsung do this? Partly it’s because Samsung has no clear strategy for their store, but also it guarantees user confidence for any app in the Samsung Apps store.

            Another pro tip: If you’re going to release anything in Korea, install the SKT, KT and LG store APIs into your app, then send a bilingual QA tester over. These telcos provide FREE device compatibility rooms that you can reserve for a few hours a day. You won’t be able to go super in-depth, but you will be able to do basic sanity testing. And because Korea has widespread LTE/LTE-A networks, it’s a good idea to sprinkle a little network testing in there as well.

          • recipesoftblog

            Thanks. Will do that. Here in israel samsung is strong.
            Popularity of models can be assessed easily visiting cases accessories stores that are everywhere. It is half iphone, half galaxy s. Almost nothing for Htc, zeta and others.

        • melci

          Actually, you need to support 509 unique hardware configs to reach 80% of Android devices.

          This compares to supporting a handful of different iOS devices to reach close to 90% of iOS devices.

    • kgelner

      “I don’t think XCode is that much better than Eclipse or Visual Studio.”

      XCode is possibly not more sophisticated than Visual Studio, but it’s much more advanced than Eclipse – especially in terms of dynamic UI building. Yes you can do all that in code but a good IDE makes development far faster. That’s probably the primary advantage but you are also discounting the huge amount of help XCode gives you in building for a wide range of platforms, and deep integration with a number of frameworks.

      “developers should be more familiar with the Android coding environment if they learned the “traditional” way of C –> C++ –> Java.”

      I went exactly that path but found going to Objective-C not a problem at all – and the thing is anyone who has gone that path that path may know Java, but probably very little about the wide array on Android frameworks. It’s about as much work to learn that as it is to learn Objective-C and the iOS frameworks and there are a lot of compelling reasons to learn iOS first if you are going to learn to develop for any mobile platform (not least of which is the large amount of enterprise traction iOS has gotten).

      “More cumbersome APIs: Again, this might have been true in 2011, not anymore.”

      This is totally true and the gap is growing. What does Android have like TextKit? Nothing. Dynamics? CoreImage? Hell, almost all of AVFoundation? Even mapping wise you are better off on iOS. And going through some kind of compatibility service as you have to for Android to use newer frameworks, inevitably leads to performance issues.

      “QA issues: this was once again a very serious issue in 2011. Not so much anymore.”

      The day this stops being a much greater issue is the day there are fewer devices to test on because the platform has panned out.

      As it is, you can simplify testing if you can choose which 30% of the market to drop as customers. But then there’s no market size advantage for Android (not that there is anyway, with ultra-cheap but useless Android phones greatly inflating Android market share numbers).

      • meliorist

        Yes, XCode is more advanced than Eclipse, but let’s not pretend it’s in the same class as Visual Studio. It’s really not. One thing you can definitely say for Microsoft: they have good developer tools.

    • William Hatch

      I’m a developer, and I feel that the biggest limiting factor on Android is the absolutely horrid view layer, which is really due to it’s inability to efficiently process bitmaps. There’s certainly a lot to not like, although there’s plenty of things that Android does I do like. It feels (roughly, emotionally) to me, that the Android API’s were designed for “engineering” features, where as the iOS API’s are much more about making it easier for the developer to support end user features. I’d put the cost delta between the two at more like 30%, and I think that’s being reasonable, and, in the context of a simple UI. If you attempt more advanced UI features, that scale does not rise linearly…. Not at all…

  • dang1

    new iOS-first apps from so-called sophisticated startups are, for the most part, just awful buggy fart apps not ready for prime time. It’s iOS-first for these startups because they don’t have the resources to make a good app, right off the bat, and it takes pouring VC money into them to make good a product.

    By the time the app is useful and well-known, and the startup ready to be sold, it has an Android app, since it wouldn’t be a viable startup without an Android version of the app. So, nice for iOS users to be guinea pigs for the time-wasting apps of these startups.

    • http://www.sohrob.com Sohrob Tahmasebi

      Sounds like a bunch of sour grapes. iOS is still the king, even if you Fandroid kids find it hard to swallow.

  • Shane Blyth

    Im outside the US and Android is everywhere but very few people have a data plan those tend to be reserved for the highend phones, iPhones and Android. Most of the Android buyers use the phone as a replacement for feature phones cause it’s a cheap phone thats makes calls and does SMS so even though the numbers say the market share is high the reality in a lot of places is Android is by default on these feature phone replacements and people don’t want apps. I think this fact is missed and cant be shown in straight market share in alot of markets. Someone should do a study on market share based on data and app purchases especially outside the US.

    • http://stevecheney.com/ steve cheney

      This comment encapsulates just how different Android and iOS are. There are virtually no iPhone users worldwide that don’t use apps. You are right this can’t be shown in market share. The smart people who write about this understand. To me, this lack of a thirst for apps means that the most innovative new services / apps will come from western startups for a long time to come. And these will be iOS first.

      • Daniel So

        You’re right that there are huge variances in the Android market.
        I come from one (Korea) where Android does exceptionally well. For example, a top grossing Android game in Korea will match the revenue of a top grossin iOS game in the States — this equates to about 40 to 50 thousand dollars a day. Our next door neighbors, Japan, is also experiencing a similar phenomenon. Source: Distimo

        • jameskatt

          Games are different from other apps. Apps other than games don’t make money on Android compared to iOS.

          • Nikove

            Not entirely true (as a black and white statement) – though this is the tendency. Our view of the world is quite heavily skewed due to what we see in e.g. our app stores.

            Look at KakaoTalk (similar to WhatsApp) for example.

            Likewise, China, Korea and Japan are dominated by apps we have never even heard of (let alone know how to pronounce)… crazy successes being seen there.

      • Daniel So

        But I also agree with you that innovation comes from the West. I don’t know if that has to do with iOS vs Android, but I cannot think of a single app or feature that was first developed in the East that had any real success.

        • henriok

          Emoticons

          • archie4oz

            Those aren’t apps, and they pre-date smartphones.

          • http://davidhdennis.com/ David H Dennis

            Emoticons were invented in the early years of the net, so they are Western. I was using them in the mid-1990s.

        • stardust1008

          WeChat, Line etc.

        • Jason

          Waze was developed in Israel.

    • kgelner

      I found the same thing when I lived outside the U.S. for a time, I bought a cheap Android device – but even though I did get a data plan, I only used it to tether my iPhone to for data! Yet it as still counted in the Android sales figures… the screen was too small, and the touch interface way to jerky to ever consider using the Android device I bought for applications.

      • http://www.droid-den.com Rachid

        Why did you buy it then…

        • Idon’t Know

          Read what he said.

        • kgelner

          In addition to the tethering I ALREADY MENTIONED, I wanted a local phone number but didn’t want to miss called on my US phone number (which I would have if I removed the SIM from my iPhone). So I needed a second phone.

          • http://www.droid-den.com Rachid

            The tethering reason wasn’t valid by itself lol, as you could have gotten a mifi device. Thanks for answering :P

      • markt9002

        Try a Moto G. IMO, it rivals the iPhone 5s in usability and smoothness. Runs on significantly sub par hardware, too. It also gets better battery life than any iPhone. You didn’t need to buy a new phone for a new #, by the way. You just need to cut ties with your archaic CDMA carrier.

    • Lee LG

      There are many many of users outside the US(especially in East Asian) are using android and heavily using apps but the apps comes from third-party app stores which are difficult to statistic.For example,in china young teenagers use plenty of apps installed from hundreds of app stores and most of android phones here get rid of google play store by default.
      That is said, android users also need apps but it is difficult for developers to directly get money from those app users.

      • rimalovski

        There certainly are many, just not as many.

    • rimalovski

      And Google makes little or zero $$$ of those people that use Android phones without data plans. That is not good for Google nor app developers and further supports Steve’s point that Android’s market share is a red herring for app developers.

    • Dinesh

      that is a great point Shane! I’d be curious to see the rates of Android phone sales versus data contracts associated with those phones.

      Conversely, as data costs come down, that may change.

    • William Ismael Morales Mogollo

      Comentarios

  • http://www.sohrob.com Sohrob Tahmasebi

    Excellent piece, thank you.

  • ack

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but everything written here applies only to the USA. In Asia, almost all apps are Android first.

    • thismarty

      Funny, I thought Japan was still in Asia. Here, there are something like three Android for every one iOS device and yet I don’t know a single dev who is planning to develop an app for Android. First or otherwise.

      • Matthieu Sola

        Sure, Japan is in Asia as Luxembourg is in Europe. (FYI China is mainly Android and they have a little more people over there than in Japan, if that counts)

        • melci

          Regarding Chia, you are only talking smartphones – if you talk tablets, the iPad is actually the number one tablet with 73% marketshare last year according to Analasys International and 80% marketshare in April this year according to Chinese analyst Umeng.

          Once the iPhone is available to the three quarters of a billion subscribers of the world’s biggest carrier China Mobile, we will see a rapid increase in iPhone market share in China as well.

      • ack

        AFAIK, Japan’s the only exception in Asia. Generally, Japan follows its own trends. In some cases, they will follow South Korea or USA. But that’s how it is – for regional apps, IOS can be the better choice; for worldwide coverage, Android can be the better choice.

  • Show Me Evidence

    I like how you think that you provide evidence but only provide claims. If you have evidence you should link to instead of pretending it exists. You provide lip service to sources of data but don’t even link them.

  • koolak82

    You missed one big point, more Open vs less open/propeitery/controlled. That’s the reason Android has a chance, and android has an edge too. This is a long-run game. This is many players/team vs a star player.

    If I am to take your point number 9, which I would be most concerned with, I would like to point out that do successful companies only have “iOS” apps and are they happy to live that way? Your pinterest and Instagram example in revrese, so they are no ignoring “android” like windows.

    The basic assumption which is faulty is that you are assuming that “andriod” turning out to be beigger than iOS is pure function of market share of both. Which you imply I guess that android will always suffer. First, I argue that it’s not pure function, second the relation might turn out to be more profound in reverse. So, wait, it’s a long-game.

    • http://twitter.com/LunaticSX Lun Esex

      The percentage of smartphone buyers worldwide who care about “open” vs “non-open” is not enough to make a difference. Developers who ideologically put “open” first are only hurting themselves business-wise.

      In the world of smartphones, it’s the consumers who have the true power. This is unlike the old days of the PC platform wars, where it was corporate middle management and IT departments who made decisions on the majority of PC and software purchases.

      When it comes to smartphone hardware there’s little discernible difference to the majority of consumers whether any particular smartphone is an “open” platform or not. Being “open” doesn’t really help any but a small group of the most technical of Android users to do things like remove the pre-installed non-removable apps that aren’t there for the customers’ benefit, but for that of the carriers. Being able to load apps on Android from places other than the Google Play store because it’s “open” is actually risky now, since places other than Google Play are much more likely to harbor malware.

      Besides all that, the smartphone market isn’t even a “many players/team vs a star player” competition. There are only two companies making any real money in smartphones: Apple and Samsung. That’s “star player vs star player.”

      • normativ

        As an app developer in China, we went with Android first as it is over 80 percent of the market and growing. Most people here do not get apps from Google Play store, but from several other Android app stores. Being “open” helps here because your average consumer knows that he can move between a cheap and an expensive smartphone without being tied to one system.

      • ShoomKloom

        “Being “open” doesn’t really help any but a small group of the most technical of Android users”

        I strongly disagree: The average user might not know the technical differences between open and closed but she feels it with everything she does: sharing pictures, uploading music, and every other aspect of the phone experience.

        • JJose

          This…Open is not just some mystery work for technical folks. In day to day usage of phone, the advantages of being open manifests itself in many ways

    • Chaka10
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  • Brian Butterworth
    • Chaka10

      The main observation I take from this chart is that Android seems to have largely replaced Symbian and Window’s Phone (collectively ~60% at the start of the chart). Also, I think the main point of the article runs counter to the “open is better” argument, no?

      • meliorist

        A further observation worth making is that iPhone market share is more or less flat. It’s been hovering around 20% since 2009, whereas Android growth is relentless. Even though RIM and Symbian reached near zero a year ago, Android has kept growing.
        As for Apple, its market share is protected by carrier subsidies in the USA and Japan, but in most other countries, including the BRICs (where most of the long-term growth is to be found), it has little or no market share at all, and no signs of getting any.

        • codeslubber

          So flat that they sold 9M phones in a few days…

          • meliorist

            It’s how many they sell over a year that counts.

          • Space Gorilla

            Yes, yes, and when that number is also excellent you’ll find something negative to say about that too. No matter how much Apple succeeds, Apple is not succeeding.

          • meliorist

            Sure, it’s excellent – many other manufacturers would envy the number of phones they sell – but it’s not growing relative to the market. Apple’s market share was 14.2% in Q2 2013. In Q2 2009, four years ago, it was 13.7%. In the same period, Android went from 2.8% to 79%.

            One is gaining market share, the other is not.

            Apple may be very happy with what they’ve got. By charging premium prices, they can only enjoy a minority of the market, but their profit margins are very high.

          • Space Gorilla

            Apple has always had a minority market share, but they dominate the segments they actually target. This is what the Church of Market Share zealots miss.

            So, to summarize, Apple’s ‘problem’ is that they are selling more and more of their products, and the market for those products is growing even faster than Apple can make and sell their products. Well, clearly Apple is doomed. Oy.

            BTW, your last paragraph almost explains segmentation by accident, which is kind of funny.

          • meliorist

            As it happens, it’s not quite true that they’re selling more and more of their stuff. They’re keeping pace with the market in smartphones, but not tablets. Apple’s tablet sales have fallen off quite dramatically in the past year, even though the market is rising fast. Not even the iPad mini has been able to save their tablet sales.

            And Apple don’t dominate “their sector”. They don’t dominate smartphones (never have done), they don’t dominate tablets (they did, from 2010 to 2012, but not any more), and they don’t dominate laptops or desktop computers (never have done). They are significant, but not dominant in any of those sectors.

            And, no, I didn’t describe market segmentation, either by accident or otherwise. Apple’s policy of high prices is not market segmentation. Real market segmentation is what Samsung Mobile do: they target multiple markets with multiple form factors, sizes, styles, feature sets, and prices, from very basic to ultra-premium.

          • Space Gorilla

            Interesting. I wrote ‘segment’ and you read ‘sector’. Apple does dominate the segments they target. Market segmentation involves selling to a subset of the whole market. You can choose one or a few segments, or many. But segmentation, in marketing, means choosing an audience and going after it. What Samsung does is a form of segmentation, designing multiple products for multiple segments. But what Apple is doing is also segmentation, it’s just more focused, and more profitable. And you did describe it by accident.

            Here’s some pesky facts on iPad annual sales:

            2010: 7.5 million
            2011: 32 million
            2012: 58 million
            2013: 72 million (very conservative projection)

            Notice how the numbers are *increasing*. Would you like iPhone sales numbers as well? Those are also going up and up and up.

          • meliorist

            I did not say iPhone unit sales are not increasing. I said the market share is not increasing. Meanwhile, the iPad market share is falling dramatically, reflected by a year-on-year fall in unit sales in Q2. I wouldn’t take any projected sales too seriously, because the fall in unit sales was not in line with forecasts, so projections may be unreliable. In tablets, Apple are seriously trailing the market, having dropped from 60.3% to 32.6% in just one year. Their revenues per unit sold are also falling – for both tablets and phones – driven down by competition.

            I’m not saying Apple are doomed (as you sarcastically suggested earlier). They have a profitable business model that is sustainable for the time being. However, they are hemmed in. They cannot command a large enough market share to prevent developers from defecting to Android. The usual Apple stories – that Android is for techies, Android is for poor people, there aren’t the apps, the Android platform difficult and fragmented – don’t cut it any more, because too many people know the truth.

          • Space Gorilla

            Heh, those iPad sales numbers are only missing three months of data. And we already have data from Apple that confirms they’ve already met my conservative projection, and still have three months of sales to go, in the holiday buying quarter. Sorry, you’re just flat out wrong on this one.

            You might want to check out a recent article by Benedict Evans on where that Android tablet growth is actually coming from.

            Again, you’re making the classic Church of Market Share mistake, comparing the whole market to Apple’s share, when in fact Apple doesn’t compete in the whole market, only segments of it.

            You can’t honestly believe that a $100 generic Chinese tablet competes with an iPad that sells for $600 or $700. It isn’t the same segment/customer buying those two products. And the two products are being used in completely different ways. Looking at usage data the lower end tablets, which are growing fast, are competing with televisions, not the iPad.

          • meliorist

            Everything Benedict Evans writes comes from a perspective of extreme fanboyism. His analyses therefore have to be taken, if they are taken at all, always with a pinch of salt.

            Never mind Chinese tablets. Apple’s market share fell from 60% to 32% y-on-y in Q2 2013, while Samsung’s rose from 7% to 18%. Samsung’s tablets are competing directly against Apple’s. Samsung are making tablets, as well as phones, that are targeted at exactly the same market segments that Apple likes to consider its own, and Samsung’s rate of growth in those areas is quite phenomenal.

          • Space Gorilla

            Hmm, you’ve completely ignored your original mistake about iPad sales. Interesting.

            The most we can say about Samsung is that a subset of their tablets competes with the iPad. But even then I’m not convinced there’s much competition. Apple’s unit sales continue to increase at a healthy rate. There is no debate about that, iPad and iPhone unit sales are increasing year over year. Sales are not decreasing. Let us at least put that silly notion to rest.

            Android also continues to do very well, mostly serving different segments of the market, much larger segments by the way (but lower margin, there’s no denying that). Apple cannot possibly serve the whole market, it’s simply too large. But they never wanted to and never will, it’s not their strategy.

            The Church of Market Share folks conveniently ignore the success of the Mac business, a business with tiny market share relative to the whole market. And yet Apple rakes in something like 45 percent of the PC industry’s profits, they continue to release great hardware, and there’s a ton of excellent software as well as a robust developer community. How is this possible? If the Church of Market Share argument is correct the Mac business can’t exist. And yet it does.

            Let’s see if I can explain this using a car analogy. The Church of Market Share would have us believe that Joe Customer goes out looking to purchase a new car and is seriously pondering whether he buys a Mercedes S Class sedan for $90,000 and change, or a Nissan Versa for $13,000 and change. Really? Does that seem reasonable?

            When you talk about Apple’s share relative to the whole market, this is exactly what you’re doing, assuming that the Mercedes S Class sedan loses sales because people buy the Nissan Versa.

            But if that were true, then Apple’s iPad unit sales would have to be decreasing, and *you assumed they were*, your words: “Apple’s tablet sales have fallen off quite dramatically in the past year, even though the market is rising fast”.

            You were wrong.

          • meliorist

            “Church of Market Share”. Ha.

            Market share is important because developer support depends on it. From 2008 to 2010, if you wanted to make money from smartphone apps, the iPhone was the only choice, and the iPad was the only choice for tablets until 2012. Now developers have a choice of where to invest their efforts, and Android has the biggest number of potential customers for both smartphones and tablets, and that share continues to grow. If it reaches above a certain threshold, developers will begin to neglect iOS, and we’ll have a repeat of the situation that occurred with Windows versus Mac OS, where the latter platform suffered from a relative dearth of applications, which in turn adversely impacted sales.

            As for Samsung, yes, it’s a subset of models that compete directly against Apple’s product, but that is all they need. Apple only have a handful of products, so Samsung only need to provide a handful of direct alternatives. That’s enough to suck tens of millions of potential iPhone or iPad customers away from Apple.

          • Space Gorilla

            You’re still ignoring your iPad unit sales mistake.

            Look, if you want to say that Android’s total market share, all of Android, including all the devices which are not at the high end (which is most), compete with Apple and will impact the iOS platform and iOS device sales, then you can’t also say that it’s the iPhone 5 vs the Galaxy S4 or Note 3. You have to pick a single argument. Is it Samsung’s high end devices that are going to take away Apple sales (which hasn’t happened yet since we can see clearly that iOS device sales continue to increase), or is it all Android devices that will impact iOS device sales? You’ve got to pick one. Is it Mercedes vs Nissan or Mercedes vs Lexus? Please make up your mind.

            Also, when the Mac was suffering in the 90s it actually had higher market share than when it was thriving later. You’ve got your facts wrong, again.

            A repeat of Mac vs Windows would be pretty good actually, it would mean iOS would thrive as a platform (in the high end segment) with a great developer community, great hardware and software, and iOS would rake in almost half the industry’s profits. Not a bad future for Apple. But it won’t play out exactly like that, since as you pointed out, the mobile market is so large and growing so fast, Apple is actually having trouble just keeping up with the segments they target. That’s a nice problem to have. The ‘Mac segment’ in mobile is actually far, far larger, Apple will almost certainly get to a billion users just in that segment of the market.

            I’d like to see the argument that a billion customers isn’t enough to sustain a platform. This should be fun.

          • meliorist

            I posted a reply to this earlier, and it’s disappeared. Trying again.

            You seek to dismiss the importance of market share. This is a discussion about developer support. Developers have a tendency to support the platforms that have the biggest market share, because that’s where they see the biggest potential revenues. If Android’s market share swamps that of Apple in both phones and tablets, developers will increasingly shift to an “Android first” strategy, which will hurt Apple’s ecosystem, which in turn will hurt Apple’s sales.

            So, yeah, market share is important.

            Second point: you say that Apple versus Android is like Mercedes S class versus Nissan Versa. You could hardly be more wrong. It’s more like Mercedes S Class versus Lexus LS – i.e., two model types in the same “premium” bracket from different manufacturers. The people who are in the market for an iPhone are the same people who are in the market for a Galaxy S4 or Galaxy Note 3. In fact, if anything, the Galaxy Note 3 is in a slightly higher bracket than the iPhone 5s (it has a higher starting price, and also has a lot of features that the iPhone cannot match).

            Third point: Apple only launch a handful of phones and tablets each year, whereas Samsung launch dozens. Therefore it only takes a small subset of Samsung’s product range to successfully compete directly against all of Apple’s phones and tablets.

          • Space Gorilla

            Developers do not blindly flock to market share. Developers tend to support the platforms they enjoy using, the platforms they can do interesting work on, and the platforms they can make money on. iOS ticks all those boxes, and iOS is already a large enough platform to sustain a robust developer community. Heck, the Mac developer community thrives on much less market share, and somehow you think iOS is in trouble? Ridiculous. Android can get as big as it likes, iOS will be fine.

            On your second point, you’re saying two things at once, that Android vs Apple is more like Mercedes vs Lexus, and then you also say that people in the market for an iPhone are the same people that might buy a Galaxy S4. So which is it, high end Android vs iPhone or all of Android vs iPhone? You keep saying both of these things. They both can’t be true at the same time.

            Your third point goes back to high end Android vs iPhone, instead of all Android vs iPhone (which is what you cling to in your first point). Yikes.

            But most of your argument is that the whole market vs iPhone/iPad is what matters, so that *is* Mercedes S class vs Nissan Versa. When you use the Church of Market Share argument you’re saying that all of Android, including all the low end devices used as feature phone replacements, are competing with Apple. Hmm, hold on, that’s exactly Mercedes vs Nissan, which you said was wrong. Interesting.

            I get that market share is fun to look at from the perspective of Android supporters (winning!), but it’s really not that useful as a metric. How useful is it to look at the tiny market share of Mercedes in the total car market? Not very useful.

            You should crunch some actual data on sales of premium Android devices. Strip out all the mid to low end devices and it paints quite a different picture (usage data also tells an important part of that story).

            Anyway, you’re never going to change your mind, you’re far too invested in the ‘Android winning’ narrative (so much so that you made up a story about iPad sales and then never admitted you were wrong). But the reality is that both Android and Apple will win, just in different ways that don’t actually match up with the fanboy nonsense being regurgitated in this thread.

          • meliorist

            (1) Previously, you falsely ascribed to me the opinion that Apple is “doomed”. Now, you ascribe to me the opinion that Apple is “in trouble”. It seems you are determined to ascribe to me extremely negative opinions about Apple that I have not expressed.

            (2) This exchange started because I made a comment that Android is still gaining market share, but Apple’s market share is about flat in smartphones and falling in tablets. You don’t contest these statements, but you still feel a need to argue with me, for some reason.

            (3) Like it or not, market share is inherently important when it comes to competition between operating systems, particularly when it comes to attracting developer support. Sure, there’s a thriving Mac developer community, but you wouldn’t suggest it was bigger than the community of Windows developers, would you?

            (4) Market share used to matter to Apple fans before Android took over. Between 2010 and 2012, multiple articles appeared on sites like MacRumours, AppleInsider and CultOfMac giving prominence to market share statistics for the iPad, and forecasts that the iPad would continue to dominate the tablet market for years to come.

          • Space Gorilla

            This exchange is the result of you saying something that wasn’t true: “Apple’s tablet sales have fallen off quite dramatically in the past year”. I corrected you, and you just kept blathering on “Church of Market Share! Church of Market Share!”

            All your arguments are articles of faith in the Church of Market Share, although I’m sure you believe them. Well, at the very least I didn’t let you get away with the lie about iPad unit sales. My job here is done.

          • meliorist

            I was referring, as you know, to this:

            Surprise drop in iPad sales shows the market for Apple’s tablet has saturated

            Apple sold 5.4 million fewer iPads in its most recent quarter than it did in the same three months a year ago. That’s despite having introduced a whole new iPad, the Mini, in the intervening year. The drop in iPad sales, from 17 million to 14.6 million, is all the more surprising because iPhone sales continued to grow, from 26 million to 31.2 million.

            (from qz.com)

            So the statement you “corrected” is not inaccurate. At worst, it’s ambiguous.

          • Space Gorilla

            In 2012 Apple sold 58 million iPads. In 2013, as of the Oct 22nd event Apple had sold over 70 million iPads. So unless 58 is a larger number than 70 million, you lied. Hard to take you seriously when you refuse to tell the truth. I’m done with you.

          • meliorist

            Everything Benedict Evans writes is from a perspective of extreme fanboyism, so one has to take his statements, if one takes them at all, with a pinch of salt.

            Forget about Chinese tablets. Although they are important from the point of view of app developers, dismissing the growth of Android tablets because many of the devices are cheap white label products misses the point. There are other more direct threats than that. Samsung’s market share rose from 7.6% to 18% y-on-y in Q2 2013 (with unit sales up 120%), while Apple’s fell from 60% to 32%. Samsung is a direct competitor to Apple. It’s Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy Note 10 tablets marketed to the same market segments that Apple likes to think of as its own.

    • melci

      Brian, you’ve got your smartphone blinders on.

      When you look at the entire iOS platform, you discover Apple has sold 700 million iOS devices, 200 million last year alone.

      That puts iOS at 70% the size of Android’s 1 billion devices activated since 2008 worldwide.

      However, in terms of actual active app-using devices, according to Flurry, back in April there were 510 million active active app-using iOS devices compared to only 564 million active app-using Android devices worldwide. That puts the size of the iOS platform at 90% of Android in terms of in use devices worldwide.

      However, it gets worse in terms of actual usage, dev revenue, ad revenue, e-commerce revenue etc. iOS completely dominates Android in all these metrics that atually matter.

      Nokia and Symbian used to be the king of marketshare (70% worldwide in 2007) in the rest of the world in particular, but look what happened to them. Google’s Android is just the new Symbian – king of marketshare but nothing else.

  • jonathanlibov

    One other cost of Android is the greater complexity of marketing/BI. Say your KPI in that first 18 months is the number of users who purchase a $0.99 IAP. Because iOS still monetizes better than Android, you might get 2% conversion on something that you get 8% on for iOS. Even if Android is 4x bigger, 100 * .02 is not the same as 25 * .08 in this case, because during that first 18 months you’re looking to clearly demonstrate an efficient and robust monetization strategy.

    All things being equal (which they’re not, see #1 – #9 above), it is easier to dissect and understand the iOS audience (composed of an audience that more uniformly seeks out the highest-quality experience even at greater cost) than the Android audience.

    That’s a controversial point which I don’t expect all to agree with and I probably can’t defend sufficiently within this comment.

    • Daniel So

      8% conversion on a f2p app! wowzas haha

      I think in most cases, iOS definitely monetizes better. However, there are cases I’ve seen where the ad revenues from Android’s sheer numbers balances the deficit they suffer in IAP monetization. I know the case I’m about to share is rare, but here’s an example:

      – Our company releases a paid game app on IOS first. Hits #1 on US overall for a day, GG we win.
      – Sales do well for a month or so, various updates give us little spikes.We later release a f2p version, but suffers from weak ARPU.

      – We release an Android version about 8 months later as a f2p. Even more Horrible ARPU.
      – Android Market features our app, downloads hit 400k a day. We change our admob revenue model from CPC to CPV. If we had added interstitial ads in there as well, we could have perhaps doubled our ad revenue.
      – Ultimately, iOS sales eclipses Android sales. However, if we factor in SKT/KT/LG store sales as well + the ad revenue, it’s pretty close, especially when you consider the 8 month head start the iOS version had.

      Sorry I can’t get more specific with my numbers out of respect to my former employers.

    • markt9002

      Tons of high quality apps are free on Android and similar counterparts cost money on iOS. When an app is good and free, it is a bit hard to compete.

  • ubersoldat

    Yes, iOS tools might be better and faster to develop for (don’t agree but lets suppose they are) Apple’s testing & release process are so outdated that it hurts to see iOS teams struggle to setup simple CI, release beta versions of their apps and finally, you’ll be lucky to get a two week approval of your app in the App Store.
    On the other side, I find that Android users are way more cheap than iOS ones. So if your’s is a paid app, do iOS first :-)

    • codeslubber

      I have been getting releases approved in a few days of late.

  • http://www.beingpractical.com/ Pravin J

    Do things that don’t scale.

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  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    Developers make more money on Android. Most of the app innovation happens outside of the USA. Developing 1 app for all Android devices is way easier than making 8 different apps to work on iOS.

    • Mark Lee McDonald

      Wait, what? I don’t know if there’s any arrangement of those words that would make any sense.

      • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

        On Android, make one app following Android SDK rules and it will work perfectly fine on 99% of Android devices used on the market today. On iOS you need to make more than 7 different apps for iPhone, iPhone retina, iPhone retina 5/5S, ipad, ipad retina, ipad mini, ipad mini retina.

  • DanRowinski

    While it is an interesting note to tie Android development to startup fundraising, that is only one (smaller) part of the equation. Not all innovation, app building and companies are built through startups looking for seed rounds.

    • Michael Kariv

      Agree, I have also made this point. However, it seems that the article does mention that startups in us are a boot camp for big corps via aquihiring of failed. So they are a trend setters. That is my take on what steve meant.

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  • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

    If you have to support hardware features the cost of developing for Android is overwhelming.
    To reach 50% of Android device you have to test 45 different devices. A startup simply can not do that even at round A.

    • meliorist

      Why would you need to test 45 different devices? The vast bulk of apps don’t use any unusual features of devices, so the only hardware variables that matter are screen size and resolution, SD card, and (for some apps) camera, and there are well-documented ways of dealing with all those variables. If an app has been written in accordance with guidelines, you only need to test it on a representative handful of devices, and it will run on everything else (within the constraints set by the developer – e.g., minimum operating system version, etc.).

      • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

        I mean hw specific features, not display screen sizes.
        Gyroscope? you have to test.
        Exploit camera limits? You have to test
        and on and on, you get the point.
        In any way shipping an app never nested on a specific device is not best practice, it could work, but testing is the thing to do if you have the money. We are speaking to test the devices that makes 50% share, half the phones out there, you say a dozen device it mean your app has been tested on less than 30% of the existing phones before shipping. It seems more luck than serious testing.

        • meliorist

          You approach strikes me as unscientific. Let’s say your app uses the gyroscope. You test the feature on a dozen randomly selected phone models, and it works fine on all of them, you now have a 95% confidence level that it works on roughly at least 95% of phones. If you test on 45 random devices, you can now be confident (to the 95% level) that it will work on roughly 97% of phones. The time and money you spent on getting that tiny bit of extra confidence is, in my view, a big fat waste.

          Supposing scientists operated the way you do? Astronomers would tell us that they don’t know if stars are generally lit by nuclear fusion, because they’ve only studied a tiny sample of stars, and zoologists would tell us they don’t know if whales generally have diaphragms and four-chambered hearts, because they’ve only dissected a tiny sample of whales.

          • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

            You don’t choose phones random. 45 specific Android phones model are really required to cover 50% of Android phones share, it is reported not invented. If you choose 12 between them you have covered less than 50% of the market, let’s say 20% (it depends on the models you choose).
            If your app works well on 90% of the 12 models you have tested your app successfully on 90% of 20% of the phones in the market. That is scientific.

          • meliorist

            Sampling – have you ever heard of it? It’s how science is done.

            If you want to waste money testing hundreds of devices, go ahead, as long as it’s your money that your wasting, not mine.

          • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

            The entire point here is that different hardware implementation requires different hardware tuning in your code and you have to fine tune your code for different hardware no matter what.
            Without testing on every different hardware you cannot be sure the desired behavior will result, you simply can not be sure. Every gyro must be calibrated like it or not and so tested. It is not a waste of money it is the only way you can be sure and offer your users the best experience without blames on your app.
            Sampling can be done on equal models, you just test one phone for every model, but here we are speaking about 45 different phone models, each with different hardware implementation.
            You cannot sample, they are different, each one is unique, you have to test all of them or declare compatibility with only the models you do test or don’t care, release the app and be prepared to support troubles as they come.
            All of the above decision is costlier than ios.

        • meliorist

          Did my previous reply disappear?

          There’s a scientific reason why 45 devices is overkill. It’s to do with statistics and confidence intervals. If you test 16 device types from a population of thousands, and your product works on all 16, this gives you 95% confidence level that your app will work on 95% or more of device types. (i.e., the margin of error is 5%). If you test 12 different devices, the margin of error is just under 6%. If you test 45 device types, the margin of error is just under 3%.

          Even if you want a 99% confidence level (Why, really? Will the world end if your app fails to work on a handful of obscure devices?), you still don’t need 45 devices – 27 devices will cover it.

          A big sample increases your confidence, but the amount by which your confidence increases is probably not worth the cost of all the extra testing and delay in shipment.

    • Oletros

      Why you need to test in 45 different devices?

      • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

        Because each device is different with different settings for the hardware and every device must be verified and frequently fine tuned. It happens for iOS too, but the number of devices is small and furthermore 50% share is usually one device.

        • Eirik Moseng

          You still don’t need to test on 45 different devices, you must creating something that is quite depended on very rare and unique features different from device to device if you require to test on 45 devices… If that is the case, I assume also you app easily stands out from a lot of other similar apps which is of course a high bonus which you cannot easily do on iOS.

          Most fragmentation on Andorid is easily handled by grouping of similar features (like screen sizes) and proper code design. For performance depended apps, those are more critical to test on a broader set of devices.

          • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

            Unique features? No.
            Gyroscope and other standard hardware sensors must be fine tuned for every device.
            They are not unique, they are ubiquitous, but in Android and iOS they require testing and calibration (for android in many many different devices to reach a fair market share) and in Android only often ad hoc code to bypass non standard or missing or faulty api implementation.

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  • Chaka10

    I think many of the thoughtful comments in this thread (e.g., Daniel So’s defense of the improvements in Android since 2011) miss or at least fail to refute the main point of this article, that STARTUPs face a number of realities that push them to develop for iOS first. With the steep odds of even just making it to the A round, it remains a relatively easy decision not to take on the additional risks (real and, importantly, perceived) of doing Android first or concurrently. It’s in large part a business (as sell as technical) decision.

    • Fran_Kostella

      Agreed. You need to build what is within grasp as opposed to what other people theorize you should build. One of my current projects is porting an app to iOS from Android. The founders didn’t have Objective-C or iOS experience nor access to someone with those skills, but they were able to bootstrap an Android app fairly easily. They now have customers and want to seek funding and know that they need an iOS version of the app to proceed. They now have the problem of having to compete for scarce iOS developers.

      I’d never fault them for doing Android first, it worked for them. I believe it boils down to making decisions about your market and using your resources wisely. Since iOS developers have been hearing a lot about how the world is changing to Android first, Real Soon Now, it helps to hear other arguments, like this post, to counterbalance things. Taken in aggregate, the arguments for and against Android first are both compelling, but I’m still in the iOS first camp.

      From my perspective, I just like working in iOS, I love the devices and the system and the way that Apple is shepherding their technology stack. I like that I get new APIs of worth every year and that I can depend on 95% of the users to upgrade to the same OS, without encumbrances, in a few quarters. Android just doesn’t look the same to me so I avoid working there. Even if the mobile world goes Android first I likely won’t switch.

      Yes, it is all subjective, but since I have a lot of experience I can pick and choose. If I were just starting out I’d want to get good at both iOS and Android, probably in that order but depending on what the local market was paying. It is important in this business to take the view that the current platform is not going to be around for your whole career and that you will have to learn new things over and over, so don’t get emotionally attached to one way.

      • kgelner

        If I were just starting out I would still focus on one platform or the other, there is enough going on on either platform that to really be a great developer you need focus. It’s fine to tinker with other platforms but I would not split myself significantly.

        • Fran_Kostella

          Absolutely, you need to pick one to start, but I’d still want to get my feet wet on both as this is still early in the mobile era. The third leg of the tripod would be to get into the server side and learn what is needed to support apps.

  • Michael Pryor

    Stack Exchange (ie Stack Overflow) is another exception. We built Android app first (it was cheaper and easier)

    • http://stevecheney.com/ steve cheney

      Interesting. That’s good to know. You guys are certainly very talented with Joel at the helm.

  • 209670938609387

    From all of these points, it’s a wonder Android has any developers or applications made for it at all.

    Assuming of course, that everything in this article is the truth.

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  • rawzoomie

    Author’s Point #2 is being overtaken by events and advances in Mobile App Dev Technologies. There are several Multi platform development environments that will make the cost of Android Dev on par with iOS dev. I was able to overcome the cost of Android and iOS development using an App Creation Studio from Rarewire.com. I can hire one programmer (XML) to do the work of two expensive programmers (iOS / Android).

    Despite all this, Android is still a significant development platform that can’t be ignored. Android just plays second fiddle to iOS and will for some time. That’s not a bad position, maybe not one Google wants, but it’s a lot better than Windows’ or Blackberry’s.

  • mk

    > Almost zero startups are going Android-first under these constraints.

    Not true. Many exceptions to this, including the recent LivePoll (http://livepoll.me) which developed for Android first. Several benefits to Android first including getting a free second platform, BlackBerry! The lessons learned during the more difficult Android development will make iOS conversion that much easier and quicker.

    • Sebastian Paul

      The point of this article is that as a startup, you’re racing against the clock.
      Get a product to market as soon as possible and get as many users as possible.

      If you’re developing for the – as you said – more difficult to develop for Android – there’s a big chance that you won’t stay alive long enough to ever be able to develop for iOS later.

      And depending on your business, there’s also a high chance that iOS is also the platform with the largest number of users.
      The kind that pays a lot of money for services and goods.

      • Michael Kariv

        There is, it seems, the strong geographical bias. If you look through the comment thread you’ll see china, israel, russia all different. I still believe the article observations are true, if qualified to b for startups with the seed level funding, located in us, and for their model to work do not require 360 coverage from day 1

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ mdelvecchio

      BlackBerry? youve got to be joking. the time spent fielding user support for the miniscule BB market is a con, not a pro.

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  • 123db

    This article demonstrates how different the US is to the rest of the world. I don’t doubt the figures, but I do doubt the long term implication that Android won’t take over.
    The problem as I see it is that the vast majority of the world is not western, and uses Android. They don’t spend like the west, but they do effect the user numbers. In time, they will start developing apps that appeal to the West, and when this happens on a regular basis, then this whole article, and everything that makes it true will be the reasons that the West will struggle in the 3-5 year window for mobile apps – but time will tell.

    • codeslubber

      I love arguments like this: we don’t do what’s important now, but later we will and when you haven’t moved anywhere, we’ll overtake you. Uh, yeah, that’s happened so many times in the past. Sorry, the ‘here’s you cheap/free version, we’ll make it up on volume or raise the price later’ is what the 90s was all about. Dell and Microsoft are shining beacons of what a great long term strategy that was (if you call ruin a decade later ‘long term’). lol..

  • Marc Davies

    It seems to me that the UK seems to be in the middle for this which is a little frustrating i guess im a student and i vastly prefer developing for Android rather than IOS (im not saying i dont like developing it i enjoy that to just not as much as android) Price is also an issue especially for people such as my self who want to develop but cant afford the costs involved in getting licenses for IOS.

    I gotta agree with the author though Apple takes precedence due to its user base being more liberal with their wallet but I believe nowadays a high standard Android app has the ability to generate as much cash as its IOS counter part it may take a while for google to catch up with IOS but it will happen eventually in my opinion.

    • Nick Hayday

      “Price is also an issue especially for people such as my self who want to develop but cant afford the costs involved in getting licenses for IOS.” – £60 a year?

    • Michael Davias

      Mark:
      You note that it “may take a while for google to catch up with IOS but it will happen eventually”; you may be quite right. It would, in my opinion, be driven by the continued acceleration of Android. One could also imagine that it would depend on the success of the efforts by Samsung and HTC to develop and deliver a non-android Operating System (i.e. Tizen):

      http://www.informationweek.com/mobility/smart-phones/should-samsung-ditch-android/240162977

      HTC to launch new “disruptive” tablet, possibly dual-booting Android and Windows RT

      or
      HTC’s latest comeback plan: Build a new smartphone OS to rival Android

      http://bgr.com/2013/08/28/htc-smartphone-operating-system-china/

  • zornwil

    So the article seems to actually say “Android first” isn’t a “myth,” rather it’s extremely unlikely given current financing conditions – for start-ups in the United States, specifically, as the article doesn’t address anything but that (which I find odd as many large enterprises, SMBs, and other varieties of business models in the US and abroad have to face the same conundrum as to whether to release on a given platform first or manage multiple at an initial release).

    • Chaka10

      I would refer you to the Good Technology “Mobility Index Report Q2 and Q3 2013″ that was released last week. It give you a sense of how enterprises are making this decision. Hint, “iOS dominates as platform of choice for enterprise app deployment, with 98 percent and 95 percent of total app activations in Q2 and Q3 respectively”.

      • zornwil

        I didn’t suggest enterprises don’t deploy on iOS. Also, I wasn’t discussing “enterprise app deployment” specifically, though I certainly know iOS has the lion’s share there, especially with the fade of Blackberry. However, I wasn’t much interested in that, although it’s certainly another element to raise, you’re right. You might note my context was not about that, though;of course, internally, large enterprises and SMB don’t have the same conundrum, they have a rather different set of concerns, especially with BYOD trends versus, as you mention, apps under enterprise control/security. The point was simply that start-ups are only a part of the discussion of platforms of deployment.

        For context and as a kind of disclaimer, I work among a variety of national and international retailers in a standards group (including work done on this subject of mobile), and I work directly for a global wholesaler/retailer.

        I’m well aware that more often iOS implementations have come first for consumer-facing apps by larger enterprises, let alone SMBs, and especially in the US. However, the trend is quite different in other markets as of late (as some people from other regions here have commented). Also, many enterprises now prefer to launch consumer-facing apps to Android and iOS at the same or close in time due to consumer dissatisfaction, and depending, of course, very much on which type of business it is.

        • Chaka10

          Thanks for the insight. I understood, and agree, that “[t]he point was simply that start-ups are only a part of the discussion of platforms of deployment”, and was just offering input in additional area. I read your input in other areas with interest.

          • zornwil

            And thanks re the report, I really should add!

        • Chaka10

          … Further to my reply, I would mention that the Good report itself includes data that different industries may have different trends.

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  • codeslubber

    This is a good article, but for all you Android deniers on here, this is from a biz guy’s perspective, the developer realities are even harsher. Android just ditched eclipse and jumped on IntelliJ and that environment is not even remotely done, while Xcode 5 just came out with so many improvements its silly. They don’t even have a test runner in their Android Studio! Their ui tools are a complete joke, nowhere near Interface Builder with Storyboards. Nevermind the speed differences are complete madness. Then there’s the fragmentation issues. Oh, and finally, Android as a framework is very poorly ‘designed’: it was rushed out. The underlying structure is a joke next to Cocoa. There are no design patterns, everything is just sloppy silliness: everything is an Action or an Intention is basically the core design principle in Android.

    • Michael Kariv

      Can you please support your claim about ditching eclipse? This is a link to the android tools front page where there is slink to the ADT bundle, a packaging of eclipse with all the tools necessary?
      http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html

      Android studio being an alternative which I check out now, alternating between the two.

      • codeslubber

        It’s not my claim. They got up at the developer’s event and said that’s where they are transitioning all future energy. That doesn’t mean others can’t keep the eclipse sarcophagus open for business.

        This so typical of the open world: we have to have at least 2 of everything or we think the walls are closing in on us. Then when there are umpteen ways to get the simplest things done, solutions like Rails sprout up: the cult of ‘I decided for you.’

        Doesn’t matter which one you choose, neither one is close to Xcode. And after all the years of haranguing people about how important tests are, the open world should note the irony of the fact that Apple has the best TDD tool ever made. Tests run faster. They are first class citizens, not hooked into some pygmy runner in a sidebar.

        • Michael Kariv

          It would be valuable if you stated what development event it was, who made the statement etc. because I don’t see much evidence to that. Sdk samples, for example, have all eclipse project files.

          • codeslubber

            You have to be kidding me. Did you see the keynote to I/O? The videos are on YouTube. What I say is true.

            Have to say, your pointing out that the examples still had eclipse project files made me lol. Yeah, more sloppy laziness. Think about it: they introduced an environment that doesn’t even have a test runner!! The Emulator takes so long to load, you are sure your machine hung. None of their stuff is very well documented, and their examples are awful. When I saw that timer app in the I/O sessions I thought ‘that’s kind of cool, I will go get that.’ Seriously, I spent so much time trying to even make that build in Android Studio I was cross-eyed. Meanwhile, Apple has tons of examples, they are all documented, they all work, and you have them running a minute after you found them.

          • Michael Kariv

            it would be interesting to analyze tools importance for a product success.

            My iPhone dev agrees Xcode 5 is good and a huge improv over the previous ver. However , she claims, early Xcode was terrible compared with visual studio of Microsoft. Still developers jumped at the chance to develop for a winner platform, tools being damned.

            And, as tools evolution goes, jetbrains, the guys behind android studio, are good. I first used resharper, a visual studio plugin, in 2002. Vs in 2002 was good. Resharper improved it a lot. The best refactoring tool there was. Microsoft iterated fast I those days. Every new ver got features from resharper. Resharper iterated faster still.
            Last time I worked on win was 3 years ago, resharper was still tops.

            If that is a pattern, I expect android studio improve quickly and close the gaps you mention.

            Now tellme, if they did, if the tools are better for android, will you switch over? Is that a key factor in your choice?

          • codeslubber

            It’s not quite that simple. For starters, I would vote with Uncle Bob and his ilk who say that if you are not writing tests in 2013 you are a quack. Any environment that doesn’t have them (tools and framework) and doesn’t make them easy to do is a joke. But I would also argue that Android is not fixable. This is a chapter and verse case of what the classic 1976 book Mythical Man Month is all about. Everyone always thinks they can slap up the sampan then come back later and jack up the corner, repour the foundation and erect a mansion on it. The framework is too stupid for words and the odds it could be turned into something of Cocoa’s caliber are well beyond the mythical ass into a stallion.

            For all the people in development and business now running around chattering about Lean, clearly Android tells a horrible lean story. Apple is an absolute master of Lean, and they mastered it before Eric Ries and his ilk turned it into informercial fodder. The whole experience, end-to-end, in iOS is multiples better, as per the author’s original post. BTW, he had another post a week or so ago about how that applies to the user’s experience thanks to the A7. Should take a look. That’s the core of the matter. Android is fighting the last war: the old ‘we will get them on numbers’ one. Given the company they keep claiming they are overtaking has a cash pile of $150B (10% of all corporate cash), it’s pretty laughably stupid.

          • meliorist

            You say they’ve ditched Eclipse, but they’ve actually updated the Eclipse ADT quite recently. If you go to the developer website, the toolkit you are invited to download is Eclipse-based. I’ve played with the Android Studio preview. It has promise, but at the moment it is for curiosity only.

          • codeslubber

            Probably a mere acknowledgement of the fact that, as you point out, AS is still runny eggs and so they can’t completely pull out the tent pole on eclipse. Remember: this is a company that had ‘beta’ on their email client for 10 years (something a semi competent programmer could complete solo in a few months).

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  • Jed Wheeler

    If you want to compare iOS and android in any meaningful way you have to compare based on device specs. An htc1 or samsung galaxy s3 is equivalent to an iphone 5, a low-end device that’s little more than a flip phone with a couple apps is not. Right now you’re not even talking apples and oranges, you’re comparing apples to fruit salad.

    • http://www.paulsolt.com/ PaulSolt

      Java is the fundamental flaw to making games and responsive apps on
      Android.

      Device specs are pretty worthless these days. Android devices are stuck with Garbage collection which causes stutters on memory cleanup. You don’t get that with iOS using retain/release or ARC memory management.

      The software needs to be optimized to provide a responsive experience, and that’s where iOS shines. Android has been playing catchup since day one, and they’re still not at the level Apple is, even with better Android hardware specs.

      • Nick Hayday

        ^ This. However many “Project Butter”s Google wants to do, unless they get rid of garbage collection the UI will always stutter at some point.

      • meliorist

        Games? Java? Really? I thought most games on Android were developed using frameworks like Unity, which are built on C++ and the NDK.

        • http://www.paulsolt.com/ PaulSolt

          Unity is popular, but someone just starting out will probably start with Java. $3k/seat is a big turn off to a novice programmer, though they recently made the free version capable for creating mobile apps. I’d say more games are made with Titanium/Corona than Unity for android, but i could be wrong. Unity3d is super complex, and not an ideal place to start.

          Any photo/multimedia apps are going to be affected by java’s runtime. Scrolling anything on Android is laggy from my experiences, it’s because the garbage collection happens randomly and will affect scroll/interaction performance. The perceived user experience is that the device is slow and frustrating to work with.

          • meliorist

            Yes, Unity is free for mobile, as you say, so I don’t think the cost of $0 per seat is very likely to be a big turn off to novice programmers (or, indeed, experienced ones).

            As for Android being “slow and frustrating to work with”, that must be a subjective thing, I guess, because I don’t find it to be that way at all.

          • http://www.paulsolt.com/ PaulSolt

            I’m a graphics nut, so the small details matter. I hate frame drops in animations. All animations need to run at 60FPS without even the smallest stutters.

            Every Android device I’ve seen has the same low frame rate issues, but I think Jelly Belly was suppose to fix that. Not sure if it did, since I don’t have any modern Android devices.

          • meliorist

            It definitely got smoother. I think everyone who has compared the versions agrees on that point. If you haven’t used an Android phone that’s running Jelly Bean, your comments are out of date.

  • Michael Kariv

    We are in israel. We consider what plat to go first. We also deliberate what country to serve first. Our options are Russia as we both are russia born, Israel, local, and US, a large, developed and familiar market. Our interim conclusion, after conducting research are. If Russia android first. People use it a lot. In a number of stores I asked people and some said I hate ios, but my boss made me carry one to impress clients.
    If US, iphone first. For all the reasons stated in the article.
    Israel is the most difficult. Ppl here have iPhones and androids, but high end galaxy S variants are hugely popular. Being unsubsidized market, you would pay around 1000 usd because vat is 18 percent. And cellular plan for unlimited voice and data is 25 usd a month. So most android users do use data.
    So I guess it depends on the market where you operate.

    • http://stevecheney.com/ steve cheney

      Great data points. Thanks for reading and adding to the conversation.

      • Michael Kariv

        Thanks. I wish they were data points. They are a perspective may be, based mostly on the anecdotal evidence. That is exactly the problem, which a number of commenters highlighted. There is not much hard data upon which to make a rational decision., where android is concerned. It’s popularity varies between countries. It spans high mid and low end, and that split is not well studied. Behavior of the users in each segment. Cost and availability of data plans. Etc.

        Let me give one more anecdote to illustrate how counter intuitive some dire market corners can be.
        The summer I was on a reconnaissance trip to Russia to see how our service might do there. I saw how popular android was. I was concerned about android users not being active app users.
        I saw how iPhone was indeed an aspiration all brand. To my surprise many people told me this. Rich buy iPhone, to be seen having it. They don’t use it for anything other than text and voice.
        Android buyers are frugal. They like to use their devices to the max, installing lots of apps, mostly free.

        • kgelner

          Something else to ask the users in Russia is how many of them pirate apps – while that does happen on iOS it seems like most Android users I know pirate apps quite a lot more than iOS users. If you have any server component piracy actually does cost you money…

          • Michael Kariv

            That is a fair point. I have a feeling, again, not supported by hard data, that piracy did have a role in choosing android. But with lots of apps being free, one would think the trend will change.

            There is another reason, though that I think is even more important. iPhone is only available from one vendor. Androids, even at the top, come from many.
            That, plus Russia being a relatively small market in comp to us and Europe and China, creates dynamics in sales channels that impact the results greatly.

            At least one analyst (http://mrmurtazin.com/2013/09/11/kak-evroset-nagnula-epl-a-tim-kuk-otkazalsya-priexat-v-rossiyu/) claims it is apple arrogance that kills their chances in russia.

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  • splamco

    Android is vastly simpler to develop and deploy. Integrating with other apps is trivial while virtually impossible on iOS. Publishing and patching Android apps takes minutes. Publishing and patching iOS apps takes the good grace of someone at Apple and several weeks. Fragmentation has been largely handled by support libraries and oh, there are orders of magnitude more Androids in the global market.

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ mdelvecchio

      the easy of Android publishing/patching (or the walled garden in iOS) is what keeps iOS free of malware while Android is stuffed with it.

  • Carlos Rodrigues

    If Android could at least render html properly was already a good start..

  • VisionMobile

    The data from our Q3 Developer Economics survey of over 6,000 developers seems to agree – 59% of developers who use iOS use it as a primary platform, versus 49% for Android
    http://www.developereconomics.com/report/q3-2013-the-multi-platform-developer/

    • Nick Hayday

      108%, impressive

      • VisionMobile

        It’s two separate groups (with some overlap perhaps). But the way you should read it is: out of the total developers using iOS, 59% use it as a primary platform vs. out of the total developers who use Android, 49% use it as their primary platform. Hope this helps ;)

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  • tymcode

    Speaking as a cross-platform mobile QA tester, I agree and disagree with both the article and the responses in the technical respects.

    The toolchains are maturing rapidly, and Google is aggressively narrowing the gap with Android Studio and Google Play Services. Google Play Services has the added benefit of mitigating fragmentation, but I’m not clear how that’s affecting cross-platform development. Buying into Google Play Services makes supporting a lot of devices much easier – the API works back to Android 2.2 – and it takes the carrier out of the equation in a lot of ways, which is huge. And it certainly makes adding mobile features like location services, notifications and messaging trivially easy to implement. But a developer considering taking the bait has to understand that it will make the curve for adding iOS perceptually steeper since those API’s don’t port to iOS.

    That said, designing for a million screen sizes and aspect ratios still sucks. And hardware-dependent features like OpenGL and media format support vary wildly among devices and even among OS versions supported on a given device – not even counting custom ROMs.

    So I’m not ready to call Android First a myth, but I’m not likely to agree that most of these points have been addressed since 2011 either. In my office, adding iOS or Android first has been a business decision, not a technical or staffing one.

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ mdelvecchio

      what sort of factors does the business use to make that decision?

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  • www.thechocolatelabapps.com

    I’m also an app developer and I’ve made both Android and iOS apps over the last 2 years. Unless you’ve got a very rare case (which I have seen) paid apps on iOS are difficult now, and paid apps on Android are near impossible. In terms of free apps & IAPs and ads, again iOS converts the best on IAPs, even with a higher Android install base. And for ads, Android revenue is still a lot less than iOS. Elaine. http://www.thechocolatelabapps.com

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  • Fran_Kostella

    This article http://www.internetretailer.com/2013/10/03/android-conundrum?p=1 aimed at retailers is interesting in that it suggests splitting your development efforts to meet the different customers you see on each platform. It also points out that retailers are seeing something like an order of magnitude better ROI on iOS development at this point. The take-away is that the two platforms have different demographics for retailers and that they should not build identical experiences for both.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    That may be true, but quite a few existing web services introduce features on Android 1st. Facebook at 4sq are 2 of them.

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  • luongbui
    • melci

      Took its time.

      That’s the problem.

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  • Uwe Hauck

    Simply explained any Startup Only developing for one platform is a startup i avoid, cause it is doomed to failure.

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ mdelvecchio

      too bad you dont have any facts to back that up, and there are numerous examples of massively successful startups that went iOS first/only. (Instagram, Nest, Automatic, etc…). doh

  • Space Gorilla

    And the collective heads of the Android crowd just exploded.

  • redfood

    “There are always exceptions. One is Grand St, which has a founding team with extremely strong Android DNA”

    I wasn’t familiar with the company so I visited their website. I’m not sure they are an exception. Take a look at their product page. Every picture that has a smartphone in it has an iPhone in the image.

    • no_play

      this is pretty much standard for every, app, ad, website etc. Android simply does not appeal and is lacking identity.

  • felipelalli

    TL;DR

  • shigmas

    People always say iOS is a better development environment, but after about a year on iOS and a few months on Android, I feel like Android is better for serious, larger projects: Android’s CLI tools are less of a black box (and, thus, easier to script), I don’t *have* to use Xcode, library projects exist (iOS frameworks aren’t supported).

    Personally, I prefer using an iPhone, and I don’t like eclipse or Java (the former isn’t really a problem, the latter is), so I stick with iOS. But, among programmers, the important thing is what they like to code on, and secondly, what they like to use.

  • tomwest

    If an Android app costs twice as much to produce and delivers only half the revenue, then iOS only needs to have 20% market share for it to be the better option.

  • http://www.webspiders.com/ John Murphy

    It is tough to say how popular Android is outside US. But that does not mean that the OS is not popular at all. In fact, it is one of the most sought after mobile OS these days.

  • Jake

    Many people aren’t aware that GCC toolchain Android is stuck with sucks beyond imagination while Apple’s LLVM generates decent codes.

    GCC sucks. period.

    Android is stuck with GCC. period.

    Java/Dalvik sucks even more. period.

  • Michael Kariv

    The issue is so dear to my heart hat I can not let it go. I have been counting.
    3 out of 4 startups whose products I reviewed since reading the article were android first. 2 out of 4 were seed, two not yet funded. 3 are after international markets, one local. I asked 2 why android first, and the reason was cumulative, familiarity with java, having windows dev machines, popularity of galaxy, sideloading as way of sharing. One mentioned google tv as a future option.
    When asked about fragmentation, both workaround the problem by only addressing 4.* and testing on nexus and galaxy families.

    To remind, the article was us centric so my findings do not contradict it. The global picture is more nuanced

  • Vlad Rakov

    If you want to make an app and maintain it easily and quickly there are many cloud based services which allow to do it. Most of them even support drag-n-drop functionality that works for non-programmers too. I am using snappii platform that offers lots of helpful features and allows creating really feature-rich and complex native apps.

  • Eirik Moseng

    Android first is not a myth, it all depends on what you are doing and trying to achieve…. Appstore is a highly hit-driven market, where only TOP 20-25 developers share 50% of the revenue. Most developers do not earn enough to carry out a sustainable business. On Android, while you will generally never see the same revenue numbers as the top grossing on Appstore, on Android you have the possibility to diversify and being able to continue carry out a sustainable business.

  • Stefan

    Usability: iOS is a tad easier on the less tech inclined while still keeping tech-savvy users happy. Conversely, the less savvy will find Android a tad more difficult, but not noticeably so, while geeks will absolutely love it because of its open source code and high customizability. So, apples to apples (no pun intended), if we’re talking about why a developer would sway one way or the other, it would be the number of downloads and opportunity for monetization. Apple wins on the monetization front because of their user bases’ high willingness to spend, while Android could gain a developers’ app more popularity (free + tons of users who love free). They’re both great, but if you’re just looking to get your feet wet with mobile development and want to whip up an app quickly, go with iOS, then move to Java and see what’s what. P.S. I use a Nexus 5 and absolutely love it, so no, not an Apple fanboy by any means.

  • Show us the evidence

    Show us the evidence! You make claims about cost. Show us the evidence about cost? Otherwise you’re just making it up.

    • George Brooke

      google play has one off $25 fee, apple make you pay $99/year. big difference.

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  • chizaram

    Well said. Most of it holds true for the US Market. But here in Africa, it’s usually Android-first and that’s simply because Android devices are way cheaper than iOS devices.

  • sunghyun

    Hello. Thx for such a great article. May I translate this insightful article into Korean? I really wanna share this article with my Korean friends. Is it okay for me to translate this article and post it on my blog? Of course I am gonna add an original link(here). Please let me know :-)

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