While the App Store is boasting more than 500,000 apps and Android seems to be just shy of that number it is apparent that Android is closing the gap on their app offerings. At this point both platforms may as well say they have a zillion apps. the quantity really does not matter when most of them are crap. now that apps numbers have just become an arbitrary number that looks good mostly for marketing, the focus is shifting more from whether Apps are free or whether they are better quality.
The first iPhone offered by Apple was unique and way more feature rich than anything offered at the time, but Apps were really the bread and butter of what made the device so popular. As suggested by sales, cell phone platforms need to have a good base of apps in order to be successful. RIM was too late in incorporating a good apps store and are currently paying dearly for that mistake. While Android has surpassed the number of iOS users to date, iOS still remains more profitable. A lot of this has to do with the solid Developer Community for iOS.
Developing on the iOS platform is easy to get started with. To develop on iPhone app a Developer needs a Mac and a current iPhone, that’s it. The Xcode SDK is free and includes a simulator so it is not necessary to pay for the developer program until you are ready to publish. To develop for Android platform takes a bit more effort. The SDK is free and the developer program is much cheaper, but it probably won’t offset the testing cost. Since there are so many different companies making so many different phones it can require having over a hundred Android phones in order to test simple things like screen layout. As if the the sheer quantity of Android devices wasn’t enough, there are numerous different software versions that have to be accounted for as well as carrier software changes. Due to all of the fragmentation and testing difficulty on Android many of the Apps are glitchy. This fact most likely keeps some of the better games from coming out in a timely manner or at all on the Android platform. Simply put, Android is not restrictive enough which makes the overhead way too much for developers. Too much overhead means too few developers.
The App Store is also much more conducive to paid apps, which spells out more earning potential for Apple Developers. Obviously Developers will be more attracted to a higher earning potential which is why they currently have nearly four times the amount of developers as android. The simple explanation is that Apple users are more willing to pay for Apps than Android Users. Developers are fully aware of this fact as less than 50% of App Store Apps are free compared to 72% on the Android Market. Another huge benefit for iOS Developers is the iPad market which is dominated by Apple and gives Developers a chance to double their profits with little work.
Despite the fact that Android has 1/4 of the developers that iOS does, Android Market has still managed to grow to nearly the same amount of apps on the App Store. This goes against Intuition. One would think that because Apple has 4 times the developers as Android then they would have 4 times the amount of apps. They probably would, If it were not for their tougher standards and quality control. Apple has a very strict set of rules pertaining to the quality of their apps and therefore the quality of their apps is generally better. Combining quality control with the ease in creating elegant layouts with the SDK create a better user experience.
Android and iOS platforms are generally centered on two different concepts. iOS is centered on a good user experience and selling Products. Android is intended more for ad revenue. Since Apple is concerned with selling products quality becomes more of a concern for them which will in turn keep app quality better. Google’s Approach would be to keep cost down and put Android devices in more hands so that Ad earnings potential is maximized. In short, Android and iOS satisfy different markets. Apple will continue to reap the benefits of those who will pay for better products and Google will continue to reap the benefits of those who prefer free but ad subsidized apps. For Google, App quality doesn’t matter as much as app quantity. For Apple, the inverse is true. Only time will tell which market is more profitable. The good thing is, given that there are two different markets, either platform is unlikely to be snuffed out.
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