Is mobile app development only about cost, speed and ease of deployment?

I read an online discussion centred on mobile app development pitching Android against iOS, and the reasons why developers choose either of the two. The discussion was pro-iOS and generally submitted that developers get on iOS by default. Again, one must not lose sight of the fact that the discussants were predominantly US-based. What ticked me off was what I consider a lame contribution to the debate, and I quote it here:

Mobile Apps

The strongest point is that lots of start-ups with limited resources have to choose Android or iOS, and iOS is simply cheaper, faster, and easier.

Again, bear in mind the US slant. But even at that, is that all there is to choosing what platform to develop for – cost, speed, and ease? What of demographics of your target audience/market? I would suppose that this should be the primary factor that any developer would take into consideration. I mean, it doesn’t matter how cheap, fast and easy it is to develop for iOS if most of the people you need to reach are not using iPhones. You would get your app out cheaply, quick and easily, but the app would end up redundant for the most part. It would result in a fruitless exercise.

I am not a developer, but simple business sense tells me that mobile app development cannot and should not be about cost, speed and ease of deployment alone. This is where developers need to lay aside their personal interests and slants, and instead think of the consumer. The right approach is to go where the consumer is, all other things being equal. Unless specifically creating an app for a very niche market, a developer targeting the Nigerian market has little business developing for iOS. As a matter of fact, those interested in reaching the much larger segment of mobile users must look beyond both iOS and Android and rather play with Java (J2ME) or mobile web. Even in the US market, with the majority of smartphone users owning Android smartphones, it seems rather myopic for developers to still cling so tightly to iOS. Yes; there are other factors. One is app store revenue. Still, the almost blanket preference for iOS in the US market does not make much sense.

Demographics matter.

You can read the full article and exchanges: Startups Apparently Do Not Care That Android Is Better.

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3 comments

  1. The simple reason why developers choose ios by default is because of potential huge revenue they will get. Though android has more users but the longer term ARPU of apple is still very high. It may take a developer to have 100,000 users in order to break even on ios but may require 2,000000 users on android thus developers are forced to rely only on adverts in order to make something on android platform.
    However I think this is changing as more and more people are begining to embrace android especially the emerging markets. The question is how many people from emerging market are willing to spend anything at all on apps ?

  2. As an android developer I understand why developers choose iOS first. The reason is iOS system is developed and maintain by one company..Apple. Therefore you get a platform that is consistent (software and hardware) and well maintained. So you can be pretty sure that your app is going to work on any phone/tablet. This decreases your development time and gives you one big iOS market reach.

    Android on the other hand is very well segmented. Because of its open source nature, manufacturers redesign the android platform making it inconsistent. Developers are then forced to develop multiple versions of the same app that can work on the hundreds of different versions of android.

    So if you are a developer with limited budget you would rather develop one iOS app that can work on all iOS phones than develop multiple version of your app for the different flavors of android.

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