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Should You Build Your Mobile MVP in iOS or Android?

Android

The world is going mobile first. There’s no question as to why — major acquisitions in the last few years have been mobile-only companies like Instagram and Whatsapp.  Other mobile-only companies such as Snapchat and Tinder are worth hundreds of millions!  These companies started out as iOS-only apps, but what is the strategy behind this decision and is it the right one?  Let’s examine factors you should consider when deciding whether or not to build your app’s minimum viable product (MVP) in either iOS or Android.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Between iOS and Android

The first thing you should consider when deciding what mobile platform to build on is who your target user is. Look at your customer development research. What is the make up of your intended user? What are their mobile habits? What  is their phone of choice?

Another major consideration developers should factor in when deciding what platform to use is your timeline/resources. Building an iOS app means that the app will work well on just a few devices (6-8). That number is dependent on how far back a developer wishes to go.  Fewer devices to build for means less devices to test for. Getting a polished iOS app out quickly is much quicker than on the fragmented Android market.

On Android, the scope of products to build for is a whole new ball game, reaching almost 12,000 different devices! Android’s fragmentation presents itself as both a headache and an advantage. On one hand, developing for many different sizes, performance levels, and screens is a challenge and ultimately drains more time and money to build and test.  On the flipside, fragmentation creates a much larger global reach than iOS, which makes the potential reward worthwhile.  The good news is that it’s becoming easier to translate iOS into Android with better development tools and available data.

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Targeting early adopters is key to launching an app and generating revenue along with long-term success.  Early adopters are the second group (out of five) in the Diffusion of Innovation Theory. It’s these users who create initial hype for a product; they are the first ones to recognize the value and possibility of your product.

Lastly, consider this: an app needs to establish a revenue strategy in accordance with the platform.  When it comes to iOS vs. Android, the perception is that iOS still draws higher revenues.  Why? First, there’s the issue of piracy.  On both platforms, piracy is a threat, but Android analytics tend to show a more pervasive trend of users who have an app against users who have actually paid for it.  Despite iOS being a minority market, it has been proven to generate 5-10x the revenue in paid apps.  Now, that gap is being bridged with increasing speed.

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Important Stats to Consider:

iOS:

  • Opera figures for 1st quarter of 2015: 22.34% global mobile ad traffic
    • 45.44% share ad revenue
  • The iPad generates the highest revenue per impression of any device/platform combo (monetization potential 4.83:1 against Android tablet)

Android:

  • Opera figures for 1st quarter of 2015: 65.17% global mobile ad traffic
    • 45.77% share ad revenue
  • 1.21:1 monetization potential against iPad
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU) in 2014 increased from 20%-65% of iOS games

There you have it — iOS continues to bring in more revenue per amount of traffic, while Android bridges the gap with sheer volume of consumer base.

Android is managing to catch up with iOS in terms of revenue and traffic, yet iOS  is currently the smartest choice going forward.  For a fledgling company, building in iOS is cost and time effective while maintaining appeal with early adopters who historically gravitate towards iOS apps. Ideally, you get the best of both worlds if you build your app on both platforms, reaping the benefits of sheer volume and brand loyalists. But if I were to choose, I’d stick with the early adopters of iOS and start from there.