App Development By the Numbers – Android Sputters While iOS Surges

App Development By the Numbers – Android Sputters While iOS Surges

Beyond the sheer number of devices sold, one of the biggest ways to Apple and Google try to position themselves as having the top mobile platform is by comparing the number of third-party apps available for users to download. Apple usually takes the number of apps available one step further when comparing iOS to Android by pointing out how many apps take advantage of the iPad’s tablet features such as screen size.

This is one of the reasons that an active and developer community is crucial a mobile platform’s success. Although Android entered the app race after Apple had begun to establish a successful developer community, the platform began to catch up quickly. All that seems to have changed over the past year, with a new report showing iOS developers are now creating three apps for every single new Android app.

The trend was identified by Flurry, a company that helps mobile developers integrate analytics and advertising into their apps. Flurry noted that at the beginning of 2011, the rates were much closer with two new Android apps for every three iOS apps. Peter Farago, vice president of marketing at Flurry noted that the company “saw a greater migration to iOS.”

That has longterm implications for both consumers and business users of third-party apps and some of the same trends causing developers to prefer iOS could easily apply to in-house app development at enterprise companies – particularly if you look at some of the trends that Businessweek identified based on the Flurry data and developer interviews, which include:

  • The simpler development process and toolkit for iOS
  • The variety of of Android devices including non-standard Android platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Fire
  • The single Apple-managed App Store versus as many as 90 Android storefronts, including Google’s Android Market
  • The differences in purchasing culture (iOS tends to offer more paid app success compared to Android where there is an expectation for apps to be free and developers to make money by in-app sales and ads)

For businesses developing apps, two of those trends – the ease of development and the limited variation between devices – certainly make iOS a much more attractive candidate. The inherently better security of iOS is also likely to sway corporate IT departments to prefer iOS as a platform for internal apps compared to Android.

It’s also worth noting that these four trends may be part of the reason that Android developers haven’t yet embraced tablet development in the same way that iOS developers have jumped on the iPad bandwagon.

  • DigitalPoss

    From our take, the cost advantage of iOS makes applications on this platform more profitable more quickly than Android ones. Also, not to forget that the iPad to some extent will drive multiple versions of applications. Our position is here: http://digital-possibilities.c

  • aardman

    Heh heh, maybe it’s time to start the Android death watch?

  • cmorticum

    Does it matter whether the platform has 3 billion or 1 billion apps? There’s already way too many apps to survey on either of the platforms. What’s more important is that key apps get cross-platform developed (ported, etc.) or that equivalents of them are being developed independently on the various platforms. And THAT is happening…

  • ddevito

    when the smoke clears and people realize that it’s much easier to develop for Android than iOS then we’ll take a tally.

    Keep laughing – but when the Nexus tablet rolls out and Android devs have more reasons to write software for tablets than Android will swallow up 75% dev market share.

    But by then all the iSheep will insist market share isn’t important.

  • Pointebasic

    Cmorticum,

    You are right in many respects, but I like to use the “neighborhood bar” analogy. Let’s say there are two bars within walking distance. You and your friends head into bar “A”. They have bud light, miller, Coors light and you notice some craft beers. Should satisfy any beer drinker right? You have a drink and play some pool, then head over to bar”B”. It too has bud light, miller, and Coors light. Then you notice it has 40 different types of micro brews on tap. Which bar will satisfy most of your friends?

    While having those top 100 apps will satisfy most people most of the time, diversity is almost always beneficial. While we probably share our top ten or so favorite apps, I have some you would never download and vice versa. I may like oatmeal stout and you may prefer an IPA.

    Cheers

  • Pointebasic

    Ddevito,

    What is it that will make the Nexus tablet so compelling? Will it be the hardware that is that much better than an iPad? So far, no one has gotten any serious traction with an Android tablet. The Kindle fire, sold at or near cost, maybe. Who else in e tablet making world can afford to sell that way.

    What has kept developers from “seeing” that Android is so much easier to develop for than iOS? There are plenty of developers making apps for both, so far I haven’t seen many of them talk about how much easier it is to develop for android.

  • Dave Andrews

    I’ll never be a Mac or Ios user.  I will always hate the “one line of products, one manufacturer” mentality of of Apple.  It’s why Microsoft won the PC wars and why Android will win the mobile wars.  I have dozens of choices of manufacturers  for Android devices.  I can choose the best price, the best tech, the best price/tech combo or look for specific features that are important to me.  I’ll never respect or be willing to be enslaved by Apple’s communist China-like look at how to handle hardware/software.

    I like making my own choices, not be enslaved by one company’s own opinion of what’s best for me.

  • Wind and rain

    Good for you, Dave.

  • ex_spy_guy

    The huge majority of Android users don’t ‘buy’ apps. They get them free, figure out a way to copy them, wait for them to go free on the ‘free app a day’ sites, or ‘purchase’ free apps.

    Why?

    Because a huge majority of android users got their handset free….or got two free….or got their handset for buying car insurance, or got it half off for buying a hamburger…..they are used to getting android stuff…..”FREE”. That’s the way the android ecosystem is marketed….FREE this FREE that, google gives away TEN THOUSAND tablets FREE.

    So….who you gonna dev for first?

    The market containing people who are affluent and who pay hundreds and thousands of dollars for one device and don’t complain, never expect anything to be on sale because there are no discounts, people who have more money than time and don’t mind dropping 20 bucks here, 10 bucks there….or even 4.99 a couple times a day because they are bored and want to see something cool…..

    Or the gaggle of grinchy ass, economy killing, no money spending, ” Libtards who expect everything to be handed to them for free” android market?

  • ex_spy_guy

    You can choose the best tech with the best price making the best combo delivering the best over all value…….

    ……Or you could choose something that doesn’t run iOS.

    We know.

  • sir1jaguar

    Very istupid analysis…

    If theres bars that is enough for a certain area with particular demographic, they will not ask for tons of bars anymore… Moron!

    Your analogy is not applicable to the apps battle between ios and android…

  • sir1jaguar

    I have APPLE products and NOT ALL ARE EXPENSIVE… Sony laptops (hihg end ones) are more expenvie than macbook, like the one i have but i also bought the macbook air.
    Iphone 4s – $199 vs GALAXY NEXUS, REZOUND, RAZR to name a few with $299 price.

    Iphone 4 – $99

    Iphone 3gs – zilch, nada, free…

    So, those istupid will say android buyer are cheap are imoron…

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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