Are the Smartphone App Wars over and has Apple won?

apple > android

In what is increasingly becoming a two-horse race, the two major platforms in the smartphone space, iOS and Android, are frequently compared. Market share, usage share, mind share, openness, security, ease of use, custimizability, availability of apps, and so on and so forth, are all brought up when the two platforms are brought together. Apps in particular provide for a hot topic of debate when comparing the two operating systems.

On Friday, Harry McCracken of TIME published a thoroughly interesting piece that we thought would be worth bringing to your attention about the state of what he dubs the Smartphone App Wars. He declares that the Wars are now over, and Apple has won.

McCracken cities a number of reasons that have brought him to this conclusion:

iOS users are more app-happy and free-spending than Android users. There are plenty of stats saying that’s the case, such as this one and this one. That makes iOS a more attractive market even though it’s got fewer bodies than Android.

Supporting multiple platforms is tough. Many of the most interesting apps come from tiny startups that pretty much don’t have the option of releasing two ambitious pieces of software at the same time. Something’s gotta give, and what gives is nearly always Android…

Developing for Android is a hassle. The obvious obstacle is the challenge of supporting a bevy of devices from different manufacturers, with varying specs and hardware features, running different variants of the operating system…

Sometimes the second platform a developer supports is the iPad. Such as the e-mail app Mailbox, which originated on the iPhone, and then arrived in a version nicely rethought for the iPad’s larger display. A year later, an Android version is still a to-do list item for Mailbox’s creators…

In the U.S., Android isn’t the runaway market-share champ. This country remains the single most important producer of smartphone apps, and Google, though ahead, isn’t creaming Apple here…

iOS has a cultural advantage in Silicon Valley. As far as I can tell, the majority of the tech execs who decide how to allocate development resources are still iOS users…

The ideas McCracken puts forward are generally sound, in my opinion, although whether this signifies a victory for Apple may still be up for debate. Android has improved massively over the past couple of years and developers do want to support the platform. But it appears that the iOS-first mentality still exists – Facebook Paper is a good, recent example of this and I can’t think of any big company announcing that they are going Android-first. The iPad-as-second-platform notion is also an interesting one, and one that I had not considered in those terms before.

McCracken’s full piece is certainly worth a read, with more detail on the above assertions and his thoughts on what the future may hold as cloud-based services become more sophisticated.

What do you think? Has Apple won the Smartphone App Wars? Hit the source link, have a read and let us know your opinions in the comments or on Twitter: @TodaysiPhone.

Source: TIME

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