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Succeeding as an App Developer Series Kickoff: iOS or Android?


There's been quite a bit of chatter around the office about how mobile developers can effectively compete and be successful in today's marketplace. In a world with over-crowded apps stores, copycats, and an audience with acute ADD, its hard to stand out. So we thought, let's put together a series on 'How to Succeed as an App Developer' in today's mobile market.

We'll be getting insight from developers in the industry to provide us with firsthand knowledge, experience (and opinion) on what it takes to make it. We're kicking off the series with looking at What to build for first: iOS or Android? This seems like a sensible place to start since combined they make up about 80% of the market. Let's take a look at the two comparatively:

Android: Still dominating the globe, it currently has 69% of the smartphone market (up from 51% in Q4 of 2011). This would appear to send developers running to Android, but, with so many different devices in market, its nearly impossible to test them all leaving many apps buggy and unstable on hundreds of devices. Android's open platform (and virtually non-existent approval process) allows for developers to get on more devices and in front of users more quickly which makes for faster deployment. There are also more inter-app integration capabilities, but this open nature exposes developers to vulnerabilities including piracy and malware.

iOS: Although Canalys reports iOS has about 22% of the global smartphone market, more of its users download (and pay for) apps. In addition, Apple's APIs act like a well-oiled machine nicely designed, dating back more than 20 years and are accompanied by great resources, quality source code, documentation and a good dev community. Apple also provides tools to make development much faster. Apple's review process for submitting an app isn't so well-oiled. Developers often complain about the inconsistencies around the approval and denial process of their apps.

Overall, developers seem to have a clear first choice, but the massive growth in popularity of Android cannot be denied. Most agree Apple needs to make the whole process more approachable and user friendly and Android needs to tighten up the number of devices and vulnerabilities that it presents.

Stay tuned for next week’s App Developer Series where we’ll dive deeper into the world of user acquisition and answer the questions: Is user growth about Quantity or Quality?

Are you an iOS or Android developer that has something to say about today’s ever changing apps world? We'd love to hear from you.

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