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Android versus iOS Argument Persists, but Developers Should Follow Money


describe the image By Ron Miller
Ness Blogger

I don't know about you, but I don't care very much about phone operating systems. They all have their charms and operate in a similar fashion. Each platform has first class phones available, but there is the whole market share thing and it's hard to ignore.

When it comes to market share regardless of whose numbers you look at, Android wins hands down. It's not even a contest. Let's look at a couple of examples: According to comScore's Mobile Lens published earlier this month, Google has 52 percent of US market share compared with 39 percent for Apple. 

If you look at IDC's worldwide numbers for the first quarter published last month, the comparison is much starker with 75 percent for Android and 17.3 percent or iOS. 

So looking at it from pure market share, it's pretty clear Android is the easy winner any way you choose to slice or dice the numbers.

Developers clearly can't ignore Android, not with those kinds of numbers, and they would be foolish to, but does that mean the developers are making more money developing on the Android platform? Not necessarily.

As a small example, Mashable published some numbers from Black Friday compiled by IBM last November and found that when it came to tablets, in spite of these numbers, iPad users accounted for 88 percent of all money spent via tablets on Black Friday.

If you would prefer to compare iOS devices to Android devices, it was 18.5 percent for iOS and 5.5 percent for Android.

But it's not quite that simple. Distimo did a study recently and found that while the Apple App Store generates far more revenue for developers today than Google Play, it found that Google Play is growing steadily, while the App Store remains somewhat flat for Apple.

That could be attributed to the shear number of phones out there. If Android controls the market to the extent the numbers suggest, it makes sense that just from volume it is going to start to generate additional revenue, even while Apple continues to hold a substantial lead over Android in this area.

So what does this mean for developers? There are no easy answers. For today, it seems, you are probably going to make more money in the App Store, at least for the short term. Over the long term, it's much more difficult to call because if you want to move to where the market is most likely to be, it makes sense from a numbers standpoint, all things being equal that eventually Android would catch up and pass Apple in terms of App Store revenue.

But we are very far from that point today. A reasonable strategy would seem to be to develop for iOS first today, then follow up with Android and continue to do that untll Google Play approaches a tipping point for developers.

All the while, keeping mind that statistics can be manipulated to some extent to prove whatever bias you might have, leaving developers in a precarious postion with no clear answer on how to proceed. 

What's your methodology? Do you develop for both iOS and Android? Which do you develop for first?

Photo Credit: CanStockPhoto
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