Android vs iOS: which platform to build for first?

Over the past few years, the growth of mobile app development is simply astounding. And those who are into this field must be haunted by the million dollar question “ which platform (Android or iOS) should they select for their first app development?” Before answering this question, let’s take a look at some of the statistics. Gartner has conducted a study in 2016 and they found that 87.8% of smartphones sold worldwide were Android which is 3.1% higher than what it was one year ago. On the other hand, iOS’s market share is at 11.5%. This growth dominates other platforms significantly as Windows only accounted for 0.4% of all smartphones sold, for example.

Though Android is highly applauded in the global market, still iOS has its own loyal customers. Let’s take a look at some of the facts and figures that are linked with the iOS vs Android fight. This might help you to select one out of these two leading platforms.

Demographics: If you want to make an app, then at first, you need to consider you are your targeted audiences. Android concentrates upon having the masses but on the other hand, iOS is only for premium customers. That’s why iOS is popular in North America and Western Europe. Because these people are affluent, highly educated and thus, they love to spend money in-app purchasing and downloading. But if you are targeting a global market, then Android would be your prime choice. In Q3 2015, worldwide downloads on the Google Play Store were 90% higher than the App Store. This is because of the unprecedented growth of smartphone markets in countries like India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Central and East Europe, Africa, etc. These users have an adequate knowledge of price-quality ratio and they usually download apps ranging from tools to entertainment to communication categories. So, depending on your targeted market, you should wisely choose your platform.

Timeline: Timeline is another game-changing factor that you need to consider when you are planning to make an app. Making an iOS app is easier and faster and this is because you need to write less code in iOS. Generally, Android apps are written in Java which is a language that involves writing more code than Swift which is known as Apple’s official programming language. Another prime reason is Android is an open source platform. A lack of standardization means more devices, components, and software fragmentation to account for. On the other hand, Apple’s closed ecosystem means you need to develop only a few standardized devices and operating systems. If you want to make an Android app, then you need to make it compatible with all kinds of Android devices available in the market and truly speaking, this is quite time-consuming. Because the markets are crammed with thousands of Android devices which have a variety of screen sizes and OS versions. Since Apple creates all the hardware and software, there are fewer devices developers will have to build for.

Profitability and monetization: From a revenue standpoint, you need to select your platform prudently. When you are talking about profitability, then certainly iOS apps make more money than Android apps. A plethora of statistics has claimed that the App Store generates about 80% more revenue than the Google Play Store. In fact, Flurry recently found that Android apps generate only 24% of the revenue generated by iOS. This is because,

  • Apple users are wealthy and thus, they usually make in-app purchases and love to spend more on them.
  • Apple users are willingly paying for apps.
  • It is also true that shopping or e-commerce apps generate the most revenue.

On the other hand, the revenue of Android apps depends on advertising. So, if revenue is your top priority than the masses, then consider an iOS app. You can generate revenue through subscriptions, freemium models, or in-app purchases.

Though Apple is dominating in the revenue and profitability sector, still the revenue from Android apps is growing steadily. A plethora of studies has claimed that the Google Play Store consumer spend increased in Q1 2017, showing a strong growth of 40% year-over-year.

So, why there is a huge revenue gap between these two platforms? Because iOS provides customers with a chunk of paid apps and in-app purchases while on the other hand, Android has a high volume of advertising based apps.

Features: This is another prominent point that you need to consider while you are making a plan to develop an app. A market research shares that in comparison to android users, iOS users are 15% more likely to visit eCommerce stores. Not only this, but it is also noticed that 23% Apple users prefer purchases through their phone, in comparison to 17% in the case of Android. So, if you are planning to make a retail application, then go for iOS because the figures have already explained that they are ahead of the Android.

Releases and approval: As per the developer’s point of view, Android is always preferable specially when it comes to the release and approval process. For iOS, the release and approval process takes between 2 to 3 weeks, sometimes even longer if the app is rejected in the first time. On the other hand, Android apps generally take a day or two to get approved and updates can be pushed within an hour. So, it can be concluded that Android is more user-friendly. You just need to make a certificate, make sure you have the right keys in place for the push, and other services the app uses. Then upload it to the Google Play Store, and generally, within a few hours if it is accepted and then, you can release it. Google play store submission is less expensive and there are only a few rules when it comes to publishing.

Cost of development: This is a vital point that you should not overlook when you are planning to make an app. Though the cost depends on the number of features that you are planning to incorporate into your app, still Android apps are costlier. Because a large number of devices and OS versions on Android are available in the market. Not only that, for Android, you need to write everything on Java which is more verbose as compared to Swift or Objective-C. So, Android apps will require more time and resources, and thus incur higher costs.

When do you need to choose iOS first?

If you are planning to release your app in the developed countries or you are targeting high earning people, then iOS would be your prime choice. Not only that, iOS apps are less time-consuming and will give you more revenue. So, iOS is ideal for the start-ups who have limited resources and want to generate revenue as soon as possible?

When do you need to build an Android app first?

You should go for Android app first, if your target audience is squarely focused on Android, specially in developing nations or certain segments of urban environments. Also if you are planning to add a feature, which might not be easily accessible on iOS, you may choose to have Android application first. However, whatever the decision lands, you also need to keep in mind that due to the time it consumes in creating and developing, your project may get hampered or your developer may get irritated.

When to start with both the platforms?

If you want to start both the platforms at a time, then you should have a plenty of resources and should be well-established in this field. But if you are a novice, then you should choose one platform first for your app making. Else, it would be very difficult for you to survive in this steep competitive market.

Move to the next platform

Depending on your app’s requirement, features, demographics, etc. first choose one platform to release your app. Then, gradually you can enter another platform to get more users and profit. Consider the example of Instagram. They first started in iOS, later they release their Android version to gain more popularity.

Five years ago, Android only had a market share of 21.5%. But now, the things have changed drastically. With iOS bringing in more revenue and Android dominating market share, it would be a tough decision for you to decide a platform which is the right choice for your app.

Ultimately, your decision to build for iOS or Android first is going to come down to what works for your business. You should evaluate certain points before taking the final call.

  • The type of app that you are going to build
  • Your app monetization model (paid download, in-app purchasing, advertising, etc.)
  • Your targeted market region (North America, Europe, Asia, Global, etc.)
  • User demographics
  • Your final budget and the timeline of the project

Both Android and iOS have their own upsides and downsides. You need to evaluate all of them before making any conclusion. Hope the above information will give you an adequate knowledge and idea regarding which platform you need to choose for your first app development.

Our dedicated team at Norjimm provides quality service for mobile app development India. Being consistent with the latest development trends, our team of experts will make sure all your custom requirements are met. For further details, contact us today to know how we can help you with your business.


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