Since the App Store launched in 2008, the iPhone has become much more than just an easy-to-use touch screen device that provides a great experience for the user. It’s become a mobile bank, a barcode reader, a library, a photo editing computer, it can be whatever you want it to be. I’m not saying that Android phones can’t do the same, most popular apps are available on both platforms, but the process of developing and buying apps on a Google powered device can often be a frustrating one.
Consider it from a user point of view. Last year, for a few months I carried two devices. I had an iPhone 4, for personal use, and a G2 for my work emails, calendar etc. If I wanted an app on my iPhone I’d go to the App Store, using my Apple ID and download it from one centralized location. I take the phone home, and it syncs with iTunes and backs up my data. If I ever lost my iPhone I simply get a new one, and restore it with the back up file. Et voila! All my apps are back as they were. Granted, backups are possible on Android, but it’s not as simple, or efficient. Plus, I don’t want to think about how I need t backup a file, I just want it to be done automatically when I sync my device.
With the G2 I can download apps easily. But, if some of those apps were sold from Italy, Netherlands or anywhere outside the UK, I’d get billed extra by my bank for “using my credit/debit card abroad.” This left a very bitter taste in my mouth. Since their aren’t many reputable banks in the country who don’t charge for international card usage I became hesitant to do so. Then there’s the fact that the apps aren’t really quality controlled. It is much harder to find an attractive, elegant app on Android than it is on iOS. In fact I’m pretty sure the only app I preferred on Android to iOS was Tweetdeck – which has been redesigned for iPhone in the last couple of days.
I’ve avoided using the F word so far, but now it’s time; fragmentation. With there being so many different size Android phones, apps have to be redesigned and redeveloped for each new device. Before you start the “there’s fragmentation on Apple too” argument, let me say – I know. Older devices can’t run the newest software, and some apps don’t run on them. But by and large the worst it tends to get for me is “oh, that’s not been made for the iPad yet, ah well.” Which I think is reasonable, for the iPad I expect something more polished, and better tuned for a larger display. For Android users, trying to share app recommendations can be a nightmare if the two devices have different screen sizes/resolutions/or shapes. Compare the Galaxy S to the Samsung Galaxy Pro. If I were to replace one with the other, the apps would look completely off balance. (That’s if I managed to back them up.) It’s just frustrating.
This is, apparently, an even bigger problem for developers. According to a recent set of polls, developers are more interested in iOS app development than they are interested in creating Android programs. Considering Apple take a 30% cut, have strict guidelines and have a smaller market share than Android in the smartphone world, that says a lot. There may not be a monumental difference comparing iPhone to Android phones, but take a look at iPad vs. Android tablets.
The latest market share pie chart below confirms that Android does hold a bigger slice of the pie than Apple. But with developers preferring Apple, and Jobs’ company holding almost 50% of the monetary profits (not the same as market share), I’d say Cupertino is still whooping some serious Google behind. However much I love Android, and its openness. In the app department, the centralized App Store coupled with iTunes makes it a much better experience than using Android for the same thing. This is not saying apps are better on one platform necessarily, but, the user experience is what matters most, and Android’s needs some ironing out.
I’ll leave you with this tweet. Does it confirm that iOS apps are worth paying for or not? Comment below.
Data and images from: 9to5 Mac