For a mobile application developer, the choice between Android and Apple’s iOS platform comes down to one thing: the developer’s goal for a given app. If the goal of a mobile application developer is to reach as many users as possible, Android is clearly the better choice.
According to The Nielsen Company, 48 percent of all smartphone users are on an Android device. That’s compared to 32 percent on Apple’s iOS. But if the mobile application developer’s goal is to make money by selling the application, Apple is the way to go.
The biggest difference between iOS and Android is market demographics, said David Van Veen, senior project manager at mobile application development firm Forix.
While an Android application can reach more users, and even more global users, Van Veen said, Apple customers are far more likely to pay money for a mobile application.
Apple, he said, is clearly targeting a more affluent demographic with more disposable income than Google is with Android.
So, Van Veen said, if a customer comes to his firm with a plan to make money selling a mobile application, he recommends iOS. If, however, the customer is looking to reach a wider audience, he said, Android is the better choice.
Android Is ‘Time-to-Market’ Winner
Because Android is a more open platform than Apple’s iOS, explained Van Veen, if a developer wants to get an application out to market quickly, Android is the easy choice. Apple, he said, has a much stricter review process, and if an application doesn’t look good enough, it could be denied.
But with Android, pretty much anything goes in terms of getting an application in the market. And developers have much more access to the device’s hardware features.
And as for what Van Veen’s customers are asking for right now, he said it’s more iOS than Android. Therefore, he said that he employs two Android developers compared with four iOS developers.
In terms of sheer numbers, Google’s Android marketplace has more than 450,000 applications according to the website AppBrain.com. Of those, more than 125,000 are considered low quality and will likely be removed by Google at some point.
iOS Is ‘Money-in-Pocket’ Winner
Apple recently boasted more than 600,000 applications, with more than 400 million iTunes App Store users. App Store users provide their credit card information to Apple, so they are able to purchase an application, song, movie or television show in a relatively seamless way. This has led to a huge number of iOS apps sold. Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in June, said the company has paid developers $5 billion from 30 billion application downloads.
On June 27, at the Google I/O Conference, Google’s Hugo Barr, director of Android product management, said that 400 million Android devices are in use. Every day, he said, 1 million new Android devices are activated.
But in terms of money in the pockets of application developers, Google lags Apple. According to analytics firm App Anne, for every $1 spent on a Android application, $2.45 are spent on an iOS app.
Android for Show, iOS for Dough
So, if you are a mobile app developer who is choosing between the Android and iOS platforms and you primarily want to make money, pick iOS. If you want to get to market quickly and reach the most devices, pick Android. But the best approach is to not make the choice at all, but rather build the application for both platforms.