With SXSW in the air, new iPads on the way, and everyone in the app mood, I thought I would take a second and share my two cents on Android vs iOS app launches and why you typically see small development teams target iOS first.
For four years I was a Sr Product Manager in Web/Media/Mobile for one of the largest publishing companies in the world. Since leaving that position I have written two books on iOS development and I am responsible for over a dozen apps in various app stores (iOS and Android Market)—at last count I think it was around 16-17... All that to say that this should not be taken as the opinion of any of my partners. This is just what I think; I don't want anyone to think that I'm speaking for them. :)
Every time I make a new iOS app, it is inevitable that someone eventually complains that it did not release on Android at the same time—Scott Kelby's Lighting Recipes was no exception. I can't speak for my partners, but I know personally that when I develop an app for iOS first (Presentation Clock, Photoshop World, etc.) it's because I know that iOS and its users have proven themselves to be a valid community for testing and developing new ideas. The users are there, they are engaged, provide feedback, use the same distribution channels—and it all works seamlessly within their world. Fewer variables allows for a faster evolution of ideas and their corresponding solutions.
New ideas and new services need to change quickly and adapt to how their users interpret and use the product. This is much easier to do when you only have to worry about one device, one OS, one store, and one community.
Once an app has proven itself on iOS, small development teams are more confident in dedicating the necessary time and energy to move an idea over to a platform that requires more effort in designing for various hardware configurations, screen sizes, OS versions and skins, etc.
It's like a balancing act...Once the idea is developed, instead of spending all of your time reacting and shaping your platform, you can instead put that energy into moving that platform over to the various Android devices and hardware configurations. Less energy going into reacting and developing the core product equals more energy available to account for the many variables Android allows
Bottom line, it's not an issue of Apple fanboy-ism, Apple love, or even Android hate. It is the inherent nature of the platforms. Trust me. We developers want to put our apps in front of every user and we are always considering every option. I'm not sure why people think developers—especially developers of paid apps and services—would want to limit themselves to one platform out of pride or some dislike for another system. Small teams simply cannot dedicate the resources to develop for all of the variables Android allows while maintaining the integrity of their product when it's in its early days. I would go so far as to say that any small team that tries is probably setting themselves up for failure (not in all cases...but probably most). You just can't spread yourself too thin and still deliver a solid product.
In an ironic way, the thing a lot of Android users love about Android over Apple—its diversity and its openness—is actually the thing that makes it more difficult to get great apps on day one of a new idea.
And as a closing anecdote,
Every time someone complains that one of my apps didn't launch on Android first, what goes through my mind is,
"I didn't forget about Android, I was simply leaving you the opportunity to develop it yourself!"
But I've yet to hear a complaint from a developer who has actually built an Android application :)
- PhilipsAsia Regional Director, Controls, 2009 - 2012This role was focused heavily on creation of sales and technical support infrastructure, whilst growing sales and channel distribution with a new company paradigm of solutions.
- DynaliteNorth Asia Area Manager, 2002 - 2009A dual role encompassing distribution channel management throughout Australia and New Zealand, which later expanded to North Asia/Far East where the role intensified focus on gaining market share and strategic project acquisition.
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