To iOS or Not To iOS?
Though the app domain is ruled by just two platforms – iOS and Android — app entrepreneurs still find it confusing when it comes to deciding the best platform to launch their app.
Partly because developing an app for both the operating systems, initially, at least, calls for loads of investment in terms of budget and time.
So, it’s always nice to develop, upload and market your app for a single platform first before taking it the next platform.
So, what platform should app entrepreneurs focus on initially while developing their dream app?
The answer is simple. It depends. And, it depends on these three crucial factors.
First, you need to figure out the target market for your app. If your app is meant for Europe and North American audience, it’s better to go the iOS way. And, if Asia and Africa are on your radar, then Android should be the ideal choice. The point is that your platform choice should mostly depend on the geography and demographics you are planning to target for your app.
Second is the design pattern – In other words, the ‘design elements of both platforms differ.’ For instance, iOS obsesses over flatter design style, while Android focuses more on hierarchy. So, fixing the design pattern will help you recruit the right bunch of designers and developers. Yes, you need to hire separate teams for developing apps for both platforms, and that means you need deeper pockets.
Third is the paid/unpaid factor. If you plan to launch a paid app, then be prepared to marshal all your mind, money and materials toward developing an iOS app first. It’s because the iOS users tend to spend more on apps than Android users.
Long story short, it’s better to prioritize one platform at the outset that both the platforms while launching your first version of your app.
Concurs author and MIT graduate, George Berkiwski, in his book ‘How to Build A Billion Dollar App.’ Berkiwski says that it’s better to focus on a single platform first and make it a success, than scattering your focus and developing an app for both platforms.
Be it Instagram, WhatsApp, Hailo or Angry Birds all these apps had launched their iOS versions first and went the extra mile to make it hugely popular on the iOS platform before tackling the challenges of Android platform, head-on.|
More to the point, it’s important to focus on a single platform first mainly because of the complexities involved in each platform. In other words, you can’t simply re-package the code of iOS to Android and launch the app on Google Play.
It’s because users are used to a certain style and standards while using their favorite platforms, so you need to adhere to those standards, if you really intend to win over them, be it the Android or iOS platform.
What happens to an app when you simply repackage it and launch it on yet another platform?
You will have to face user wrath – left, right and centre.
Don’t believe me? Okay!
Hailo – the Taxi app – received user flak when it launched its Android version simply by repackaging its super successful iOS version.
It so happened that Hailo – the Taxi Service App – was super successful on the iOS platform. Confident that they had a winner app in their hands, the owners – launched the Android version in a hurry-burry, simply by repackaging the iOS version. Not surprisingly, the app received lukewarm reviews on Google Play.
Concerned, Hailo’s designer Dave Clements was roped to make amends. Clements, after spending days and nights Androidifying the app, relaunched the app on Google Play. As expected, the app once again made it to the popularity charts and even received rave reviews from Google’s then CEO Eric Schmidt.
Star Million Dollar Apps that took iOS Platform as their springboard before Androidifying their Apps
WhatsApp was launched on iOS first. There were two rock-solid reasons that made the app owners Jan Koum and Brian Acton go for the iOS version first. One, the owners disliked intrusive ads. Second, they wanted to develop a paid app.
Only an iPhone user can match these criteria.
In other words, it’s a known fact that iPhone users’ dislike ads and more importantly, spend more on premium apps than Android users – almost 2.7 times more than Android users. WhatsApp made a paid app charging $0.99 from users once, for downloading the app and, in return, offered free messaging service forever.
The business model worked well so much so that Whatsapp raked in huge money out of its paid iOS app, prompting them to launch an Android version of it.
As expected, the app didn’t find favor among the Android users because of the paid thing. Realizing that Android users would maintain their status quo when it comes to paying for an app, however good it was, Whatsapp eventually gave in and made the app free for Android users.
Sure enough, the app download rates skyrocketed on Android too. However, the iPhone users still paid $0.99 to download the app. And the best part is they don’t mind it.
Ravio released Angry Birds exclusively for iPhone first in December 2009. Both free versions and premium versions were launched. As you know today, the iOS app was a huge success and its Android version was launched a year later. By December 2010, the app had achieved 42 million downloads, of which 12 million were paid and on iOS.
The Agony of Androidifying your App
As you know, your app needs to be tested on smartphones that are gonna run it, before you could think of launching it.
If you talk about iPhone, you need to test your app only for two screen sizes – that is, the iPhone and iPad. And the biggest plus, Apple manufactures both these devices, which means fewer headaches for the iPhone app developers.
However, when it comes to Android platform, you need to test your app in no fewer than 24,000 different Android devices. And the worst part is that these devices are manufactured by thousand and one manufacturers; given that Android is an open source, and any company could use it to manufacture a device.
Imagine testing your app for all these 24,000 different devices? Too much of a task…isn’t it? Okay, there might be a way out… testing your phone on the some of the top devices, and not all the devices. Even then, you Android developers will have to test their apps on 10 devices, to say the least. That means you need to acquire all these top 10 devices. However, when it comes to iOS, you can be over and done with testing on just 2 devices.
If these weren’t enough, there are updates as well, in both the versions, that take place year after year and so that also needs to be considered while developing an app or are updating an app, so as to make sure it runs perfectly on newer versions of smartphones.
Develop an iOS app if countries with deeper pockets are on your radar. But then again, if you want to make a popular app, with a global appeal, you need to androdify your app, period. There’s no escaping that. It’s because Android still outsells iOS and so is the market leader when it comes to selling the largest number of smartphones in the world, with 67% activations in the U.S. alone from April – June 2017.