Is Android better than iOS for app developers?
October 26, 2011 by Terence LEE
For the first time, more apps are being downloaded on Android than on the iOS, according to ABI Research. Android now commands 44 percent of all app downloads versus 31 percent for the iOS, with the number of Android users exceeding the iOS by a ratio of 2.4 to 1.
This means, however, that the average iOS user downloads twice as many apps as compared to the average Android user.
Nonetheless, the sheer volume of users is good news for Android developers, who are buoyed by the recent announcement that Android 4.0 — Ice Cream Sandwich — would be made available on the Nexus Prime phone as well as existing HTC and Sony Ericsson devices.
Ice Cream Sandwich promises to resolve fragmentation issues by enforcing stricter specifications on hardware, having future Android phones support upgrades for 18 months, and unifying both tablets and smartphones under the same Android variant.
But does this mean both operating systems are on equal footing when it comes to monetizing apps? The answer would depend on your needs and inclinations as an app developer, but it’s certain that the gap is closing.
First, the positives for Android. While iOS users are much more likely to pay for apps, Google’s enabling of in-app purchases is a boon for developers pursuing the freemium model (more on monetizing your app).
In the Asian context, where smartphone users are more reluctant to download paid apps than their Western counterparts, developers have less reason to avoid Android.
Also, since Android allows more access to the phone’s hardware than the iOS, developers can push the envelope in what they can create.
The barrier to entry for Android is certainly much lower as well, especially since Apple has strict guidelines and a long review process for every app.
As a result, many seemingly harmless apps have been banned for not meeting the Apple App Store’s policies.
On the other hand, and to iOS’ advantage, fragmentation remains a deterrent for potential Android app makers. While Ice Cream Sandwich will resolve the problem somewhat, many Android handsets will still be stuck with older versions of Android for the near future.
Even if a large share of Android phones do stick to the same iteration, phone manufacturers will continue to introduce different screen sizes and user interface modifications to differentiate their phones from competitors.
This means developing an app for the iOS is still easier at the moment. Mainstream users are also more likely to be satisfied by Apple’s App Store and the iOS experience, since their controlled approach means bad apps and malware are kept out of the ecosystem.
Top image: _Max-B
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE