Follow the Money – iOS Still Leads Where it Counts

Touch screen mobile phone, in hand

Sarah Perez, of TechCrunch, reported on Twitter’s new Music initiative and app, which is being launched on iOS first, following it’s launch of Vine in January which was also iOS first.  She doesn’t offer up a single reason why developers are favoring the app in the article, but last week her article on developer revenue I think gives us the real reason why.  There are other items to consider for you as a developer.

The Apple ecosystem, closed as it is, is very safe for developers and their legal advisors.  There is no wild-wild west of trademark infringement, confusing marketplaces for consumers, and the like.  The iTunes and App Store are simple for users and offers the one stop shop that the average consumer needs.  I have my own issues with app discovery, don’t get me wrong, but I know as a user that I am getting apps that meet various guidelines.  On the privacy side, I know that certain information won’t be harvested (UDID, for instance).  I know when an app needs location information and I get a well-timed request for access.  Ok, for all you Android users out there, this may be available on your platform as well, I just don’t use it so tell me in the comments what I missed.

Perez pointed out an interesting tidbit about Android.  That a not-insignificant portion of the installed base on Android doesn’t go to the Google Play Store.  There are other alternatives out there that they may be going to, but when you are measuring metrics the Apple model makes it one stop shopping for information.  On Google with it’s open ecosystem, which is great for users don’t get me wrong, it is a bit of a challenge for developers to measure their app’s true penetration.

There are other possible reasons why as Perez points out.  Joe Wilcox pointed out last year in an article titled “Android wins the smartphone wars” that we are seeing a reoccurrence of the Macintosh versus DOS/Windows PC’s history.  While I think that may be a bit simplistic, I think it does have an air of truth.  I walked into a Best Buy yesterday and my wife and I were looking at the mobile section.  We saw these great racks of Android phones out there in all their glory.  As an iPhone user, I have great screen envy for Samsung’s offerings, so you know where my attention was directed.  She asked me “where’s the Apple Stuff?”  It was off on an endcap looking great, but decidedly diminutive in the number of product offerings versus Android.  If you aren’t all that savvy with tech and you walk in and see that, what do you think you are going to do?  You are going to go and get the phone with the bigger screen and not worry about the UX differences (even if you did care), the fractured version deployment, and the greater control that the carriers have with those phones.  The sales person will tell you it’s easy to use (“look at me get around on my phone right here, and oh by the way it’s the nice Samsung or HTC you are looking at”) and you will be sold.  What would you do?  Remember to leave aside your own background when you ponder this question because we established last week that you are not an average user.

Don’t get me wrong, the restraints that Apple places on you when you develop apps for the App Store are sometimes a bit oft-putting.  Their marketing guidelines and the like make promoting your stuff a bit problematic at times.  However, you do know what the rules are.  You know that users are going to the App Store and that if your app means direct revenue to you that you will be making 3x more on your iOS apps than with Android.  If ROI is a driving force for you, I think that I know where you will go first.

Oh, what about the Windows marketplace?  In the words of my New Jersey friends, fahgetaboutit.  If you are a Windows phone users, please hit the back nav right now.  Windows phone accesses are a statistical blip in the metrics.  While not fractured in version deployment, the weirdness between versions 7.0, 7.5 and 8 is enough to make Doctor Who take out his sonic screwdriver to better understand what the heck Microsoft is doing.  I think they may right the ship at some point and they have the resources to do it.  For developers right now, Windows is a kinda nice to have and not a requirement.

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