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Many startup founders we work with ask us a lot: which mobile platform should I choose first to build my mobile app?
And of course the debate is basically between iOS and Android, as Microsoft and others don’t really matter today.
Starting from this constant interrogation, we decided to give you some details, numbers and criteria that may help you take the best decision for developing your mobile product.
Global Smartphone Usage
Let’s start with a bit of overall context. Studies showed that in 2015 the global smartphone shipments totalled a record of 1.44 billion units, with a growth of 12% from last. The number is continuously growing as nowadays everybody is looking forward to buy an Android or an iOS smartphone. Globally, according to We Are Social, mobile penetration reached 51% at the end of 2015, with a staggering 3.790 billion unique mobile users.
How about Market Share?
Apple and Samsung collectively shipped 551.2 million smartphones in 2015 and the market share was divided between Android with 82.8% followed by iOS with 13.9%. Android remains the world’s most widely used smartphone operating system due to the fact that it’s used by more brands that Apple’s iOS. But let’s hold our horses just yet, as the things are a bit more nuanced when it comes to criteria for choosing Android over iOS.
How about Revenue?
Getting back to what platform to choose, you are most probably thinking about choosing between Android or iOS because they rule the mobile industry market share. But market share alone doesn’t tell the whole story. And how much revenue each platform generates might be a more relevant story, and in this area things couldn’t be more different.
Although Android currently dominates market share with 80.7%, Apple’s iOS platform dominates in terms of revenue, generating 85% more revenue for app makers than Android.
How about Loyalty?
According to a research published by DazeInfo, if we are talking about who is going to change their operational system on its next phone, iOS users are more loyal than Android users. iOS users also have more spending power compared with the Android users, have higher income than those on Android, and the average iOS user spends a lot more time on the mobile web than the average Android user.
A smarter way to plan mobile product development
When you got a great mobile app idea that you believe is going to revolutionise how lots of people do things today, your first thought is to make it available to as many users as possible, and that usually means having it on every mobile device possible: iPad, iPhone, Android phones, and the list could go on.
So, the basic question is: why do I really have to choose between iOS and Android in the first place?
Well, because, as it usually happens, initially you don’t really have the required resources – be it time, money or patience – and therefore you cannot afford to go for both. So, the best approach to start deciding what to start with is to look at your targeted audience and figure out what mobile platforms they use and how you can have access to them in order to acquire them as users for your mobile product.
Here at Tapptitude, we constantly advise our clients who are tight on resources or are venturing into uncharted waters (that is: they really bet on risky innovations) to do two things:
- Start with one mobile platform (be it iOS or Android, depending on what their possible audience uses)
- Define the minimum mobile product that would deliver the core value for their users and plan to launch a Minimum Viable Mobile Product (or Mobile MVP) first.
Starting with an MVP can be a really smart move as allows you to mitigate the biggest entrepreneurial risk (building a product nobody wants) by testing the market really fast and with minimum investment. Done right, launching a Mobile MVP gives you valuable insights into what your users need, how they use the product and your abilities to get traction with the product core value.
In our experience, startups choosing this way have better chances of not running out of money before Product – Market Fit and fundamentally increase their chances of building a sustainable business on mobile.
Are you ready to build a Mobile MVP now? After doing so many MVPs, we really believe this is a thing, so we’ve actually designed a special Mobile MVP package for mobile entrepreneurs like you.
Four criteria for choosing between iOS and Android
But we are making this even more easy for you. Here’s a list of what should you take into consideration when deciding:
1. Where your target audience is
As Android is aiming for massive adoption, they have great success in emerging markets like Asia, Africa and South America. iOS instead focuses on premium customers and markets like North America and Western Europe.
Even like that, iOS is struggling to keep up with the way Android is spreading. Looking into statistics on the operation system usage by countries, we can see that most of the countries use Android instead of iOS even if we talk about premium markets. To give you an insight here are some of the countries that we took into consideration to see if you should build on Android or iOS first. The data is from December 2015 to April 2016 (source: statcounter.com).
USA – 49.4% Android and 47.6% iOS
UK – 45.2% Android and 44% iOS
Australia – 39.1% Android and 58.8% iOS
Germany – 67& Android and 28.9% iOS
France – 62.4% Android and 32.4% iOS
Brazil – 79.6% Android and 11.5% iOS
Spain – 76.8% Android and 21% iOS
2. How you want to make money
What your monetisation strategy for your app? In-app purchase or paid app or advertising? For in-app purchases, iOS generates 45% more revenue per user than Android. Also, iOS users are 10% more likely to make in-app purchases than Android users.
The spending power of Apple users is almost five times higher compared to Android users.
3. Mobile commerce or retail app?
It seems iOS users are more likely to buy something from their smartphone: 23% of the iOS users do that, while on Android, 17% of users are mobile shoppers.
4. App development cost
Usually, developing an app costs a little bit more on Android than it does on iOS due to the wide range of devices existing on the market. But that really depends on your mobile development partner. For instance, we at Tapptitude have the same pricing for developing on Android and iOS, as we believe it’s our job to figure out technology without making our clients pay more because one platform is a bit more complex than the other. But that’s just us.
A final thought on the iOS versus Android battle
As a short conclusion here: each of these major mobile platforms has their own advantages and disadvantages. Android allows you to reach a broader audience but Apple’s audience is more engaged and loyal. Eventually, what you necessarily need to do in order to take a good decision in choose what to start with is to know your audience really well, understand how you want your app users to use your product and anticipate what the next development step will be for you once you validated a market need and got some initial traction. Without these, it’s really a blind choice between Android and iOS.
So, ultimately deciding on the mobile platform you want to build your product first depends on your business model, with all its components and your overall business vision.
When to start with both iOS and Android from the start
There are a few cases when starting on both platforms is the choice to make. It’s more likely going to be a consideration for companies that have more resources and are well-established but even with large corporations and global brands we like to have discussions to see if a particular platform makes sense to start first.
Also, any app that requires a network of users, such as a ticketing app, needs to be multi-platform to ensure you are not missing out on a major user base.