iOS or Android? Choosing the Best Platform For Your Mobile App
The two combined own more than 90 percent market share in the smartphone category, making them the preferred platforms. But while major brands like Yahoo and Twitter have launched iOS apps first, Android is now dominating the smartphone race in the U.S. with 53 percent market share, compared to 36 percent for iOS, according to comScore's latest report.
So how do you decide which platforms to adopt to build your mobile app? Here are three factors to help you make the right decision for your app venture:
Revenues versus visibility
Android offers the most visibility based on absolute market share numbers, yet according to the latest Distimo survey, 73 percent of all app revenue was generated in Apple's App Store as compared to only 23 percent for Google Play.
But while Apple's daily app sales revenue is nearly five times that of Google's, choosing different game plans for each platform can help you maximize your exposure. For example, Whatsapp, one of the most popular messaging apps, is available for free for the first year on the Android platform to gain massive traction and is at $0.99 on the iOS for monetization.
You need to craft a strategy that should strike a balance between visibility and revenues. After all, the more visibility you get, the greater your chances of monetization.
Take advantage of fragmentation
It is a known fact that developing for Android is no easy task given the more than 400 types of handsets that need to be planned for when programming. Apple has so far been on the positive side of the curve with only four different types of iPhones and iPads. However, with the introduction of iOS 7, Apple is also going down the fragmentation route, offering different features for different handsets.
So for example, if your solution integrates the latest AirDrop feature of iOS7, it will not be available to people owning iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, but only to iPhone 5 users. That's why it's important for you to create a solution that caters to a specific OS, especially in the case of Android phones where the segmentation of the OS is far greater among different handsets.
Features available in the latest OS of Android, which can run only on high-end phones such as the Galaxy S or the Nexus series, will not be available to those phones on the lower end of the spectrum.
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Understanding what features are supported by the types of operating systems your application intends to leverage would help you target users with a certain range of handsets. For example, if you want to use the voice recognition feature to accept commands, you'd want to leverage Android's Jelly Bean operating system's offline voice typing feature.
Understand customer usage
Going a step further into customer behavior or usage, determining which platform to develop first should depend on whether your customer is a heavy user of iTunes or Google services such as Maps, Gmail, Calendar or Google Now.
For example, GTasks is a task management app that also works in the Google account mode and integrates well with Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Now.
Another metric to consider is the "popular app" categories on both of the platforms. For iOS consumers between the ages of 25 and 34, the most popular app category is sports, health and fitness, followed by music, media and entertainment as well as lifestyle and shopping, according to a recent survey by Flurry. On the other hand, some of the most popular Android categories are personalization, entertainment and books and reference, based on a survey by AppBrain.
Get as much information about your customer as possible to determine which platform is right for you to start with. Don't get carried away with media reports that favor one operating system over the other. Go where your customers are.
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