Android remains behind iOS in terms of popularity among mobile developers as of the first quarter of this year according to a survey conducted by research firm Forrester. A total of 35% of the respondents say that they prioritize developing for iOS devices, while 27% say that they prioritize developing for Android devices. This is a significant improvement, however, if it is to be compared with the numbers released by Flurry Analytics for the same quarter of 2012, where iOS garnered a 69% priority rating from developers, while Android only got 31%. Aside from revealing that a higher number of apps were created for iOS devices in those given periods, the figures also imply that more apps were launched on iOS first before they were released on Android.
It seems that the biggest difficulty for many Android developers is what is called the “matrix of pain” (http://www.wired.com/business/2013/08/android-matrix-of-pain/ ), a term that basically sums up the complicated web of development processes needed to create apps that can run across the different versions of the Android OS and the many types of Android-based devices. This is in comparison to the smoother compatibility of iOS apps with all the versions of the operating system and the much smaller range of iOS devices.
Apps developed for the latest Android devices are backwards-compatible to only a few past versions of the operating system. This means that those apps that support only the latest version, Jelly Bean, for instance, can only reach less than 40% of the total number of Android users (which corresponds to the total number of Jelly Bean devices in use today). For them to reach 95%, they have to be reconfigured individually all the way to Froyo, which was the version released in mid-2010.
Still, it is Android that takes the lion’s share when it comes to the number of users today. This, of course, is to be expected since more mobile brands are built on it. As of August 2013, 75% of all smart phones in the world support it, while only 15% support iOS. That’s a comparison of 866.8 million units shipped against 296.3 million. This represents a huge market potential for any kind of application. And although more tedious, developing apps that support most versions of Android is not at all impossible. If you’re planning to have your own app developed, it is best to consult with a professional developer so that you end up with a realistic timeframe that matches your goals. For more information about our Android development services, please click here.
With all this information, it’ll be interesting to know how Android will close the gap in terms of developer priority when its newest version, Kit Kat (named after the famous Kit Kat candy bar), hits the streets later this year. It might be difficult to tell now. And for some analysts the only thing that’s sure is that this cashless partnership between Google and Nestlé (Kit Kat’s maker) could be a double-edged sword for both of them. They could benefit from each other’s good performance, that’s for sure, but they could also pull each other down when either one of them gets into any sort of mess. In an interview with BBC, (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23926938) Simon Myers of marketing consulting firm Prophet shares, “If that brand or business has some reputational issues that emerge, it would be naive to think as a brand owner that your good name, your brand equity, would not be affected.” In the same article, Patrice Bula, Nestlé’s marketing head, admits that the partnership is not without risk on his company’s reputation.