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iOS vs Android: Which Platform Should You Build For?

If you were to build a mobile app, one of the first questions that should come to your mind is which mobile operating system should you develop for initially, among the two most well-known operating systems: Android or iOS?

It is definitely a decision not to be taken lightly and must be evaluated carefully if you want your app to have a good chance of succeeding. Most businesses choose to develop on one platform first (mainly because of financial reasons) before eventually having the app on both platforms, but determining which one you should start with may come a bit tricky.

Let us take you to a comparison between the two and some factors to consider to ultimately help you come up with a decision.

Factors to Consider

1. Market Share: It’s a NUMBERS game!

As of July 2020, Android still remains to be at the top as the operating system with the most users globally, garnering a whopping 74.6% of the market share compared to iOS’s 23.8%. Android outnumbers iOS users more than double which is true for almost all countries, except for some in Western Europe and the United States where the numbers for both operating systems seem to be 50-50. The domination of Android globally does not seem to stop anytime soon in the near future as industry experts expect Android’s share of the market to swell over 80% in 2023.

The huge difference in user numbers should not be surprising as Android operates under multiple smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Huawei, Google, and many more while iOS only runs in Apple devices.

As a developer, choosing to initially develop on Android makes the most sense if you want to reach as many users as possible on a global scale. However, the market share does not give us the entirety of the problem and is just one of many more factors to consider in making this decision. Let us move on to the next.

2. Get to know your TARGET AUDIENCE

In the early planning and development phases of a product or service, marketing strategists will advise you to know your target audience first more than anything else. You should be able to distinguish their age, gender, buying behavior, lifestyle, how they think, how they interact, and so on to the point that you can clearly personify the person you intend to offer your product. This is certainly no different in developing applications.

It may be very beneficial for you to look at some important facts and statistics for reference.

iOS Users
  • iPhone users are generally affluent people
  • They seem to be professionals, working for managerial positions and other high paying occupations
  • Women tend to prefer iPhones over Android smartphones
  • iPhone users seem to be more engaged and tend to use their smartphones more compared to Android users
  • More likely to spend via in-app purchases or online shopping platforms
  • Apple consumers are more loyal and do not tend to switch on to other manufacturers
  • iPhones seem to be a popular choice among the younger demographics (18 – 24 years old)
Android Users
  • Men tend to choose Android devices more
  • More likely to be working in technical jobs
  • More likely to be younger men (34 years old or younger)
  • Android is certainly suitable for low-income earners which is dominant in developing and up and coming countries specifically in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
  • Tend to be slower in adapting and updating to new operating systems (50% continue to use a system more than 2 years old)
  • More likely to be introverted people
3. Developing for Android may be more COMPLEX but also provides more FLEXIBILITY

Android has its own development platform while also having a variety of external mobile app development tools and platforms to choose from on the market. This may work wonders for developers, allowing them more flexibility as they can add countless functionalities and features to the app

Apple, on the other hand, cannot work with third-party apps and has provided a development platform with only a limited set of options. This may give developers less room for creativity and possibilities to operate with compared to Android developers. However, this may also mean that Apple developers will have an easier and smoother development process due to the consistency of working with only one development platform.

4. Less COST and TIME when Developing with iOS

Specialists say that development time for Android may take to 30-40% longer compared to iOS. This is mainly because Android is an open-source platform. This means that there are more platforms, devices, and tools to account for which leads to more development time and eventually costs.  There is certainly a price to pay for having this much flexibility.

Although, the challenge for iOS developers is the publishing of the review process of the Apple App Store, which may possibly take a longer time for apps to be approved. Apple seems to have much stricter guidelines and quality standards, which may possibly lead to an app’s rejection if it is not able to meet Apple’s expectations. This is highly contrasting to the Play Store, which has a weaker barrier to entry and a less time-consuming approval process.

5. Making MONEY

From a business standpoint, developing for iOS may seem to be more lucrative in the long run despite the discrepancies in market share. As you may have read earlier, Apple users tend to be professionals, high-income earners, and as a result, may have more purchasing power. Data shows that Apple users are more likely to buy via in-app stores, subscriptions, and online shopping platforms which in turn leads to more generation to revenue.

Determining which platform will generate more money will highly depend on the business model of choice as well. If you intend to monetize through subscription models and in-app purchases, then iOS is definitely a more appealing option. Android, on the other hand, gains a large part of its revenue with an ad-based model.

So the question is: iPhone or Android?

Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you deem is most important to you as a business and asking yourself the right questions:

  • Do I want to reach a broader and maybe eventually a global audience with my app?
  • How much resources do I have?
  • Do I want an app that will make me money instantly or one that will make a better profit in the long run?

There is definitely no universal solution to this and may take a great amount of effort on your end to think through all the aspects, weighing in the pros and cons of each option, and coming up with a decisive plan.

GECO Asia has a good network of qualified mobile app developers for both iOS as well as Android developers. Do get in touch with us today and we’ll talk you through which mobile OS best fits your needs. 

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