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Study: Despite Android's Increasing Penetration, Developers Still Favor iOS
Study: Despite Android's Increasing Penetration, Developers Still Favor iOS
December 13, 2011 | By Eric Caoili, Frank Cifaldi

December 13, 2011 | By Eric Caoili, Frank Cifaldi
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Despite an increasing market share for Android-based devices over the past year, game and application developers are still favoring Apple's iOS platform by a significant margin.

According to recently-published research by Flurry Analytics, new iOS smartphone projects started during the latter quarter of 2011 still outnumber those started on Android nearly three-to-one.

That ratio has actually declined throughout the year, despite Android's market share increasing: during Q1, there were around 37 Android projects started for every 63 on iOS. The ratio is now around 27 to 73.

Flurry speculates that the discrepancy is due to increased iOS support from developers after the successful launches of the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S this year, as well as the iPhone expanding its carrier support beyond AT&T.


Another significant factor is revenue: Flurry's figures show that multiplatform developers are making an average of only $0.24 from Android releases for every $1 spent on their iOS counterparts.

The firm looked at in-app purchase data for apps with several million daily active users before coming to that conclusion, and cited issues like OS fragmentation, low Google Wallet penetration, and lack of Android Market curation to explain the gap.

These figures come a week after Google announced that it reached 10 billion app downloads (2.56 billion were games), and is seeing around 1 billion downloads each month, across Android devices since Android Market launched in October 2008.

Apple also reports receiving 1 billion App Store downloads each month, and has served over 18 billion app and game downloads on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches since launching its service in July 2008.

Google's executive chairman recently claimed "Android is ahead of the iPhone now" based on the high volume of Android device shipments, and predicted that developers will want to create apps and games for platforms with large userbases.

Flurry counters, "Despite installed base numbers and daily activations, the almighty dollar still drives business decision making among application developers. And with the critical holiday season upon us, developers are betting on iOS for Christmas 2011."


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Comments


Rey Samonte
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I don't know if I'm still being ignorant or not, but the main reason I haven't really looked into Android development is the thought of having to support all the different hardware configurations. I don't know how bad that really is nowadays, but I've read some devs complain about it. Just reminds me of the horror stories of having to support PC games after the game has shipped.

Maurício Gomes
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I made in my last job a augmented reality library for android... Seriously, in one phone the thing did not connected to the GPS unless I did "X", but if I did "X" the other phone would not connect to the Wi-Fi position tracking while indoors, and then if I did "Y" both would work, and then another phone would not work at all...



In fact, there was a phoen that following the official example on the Android SDK manual would make the phone overheat and drain the entire battery (but just that model, some other models worked fine).



And this is ONLY the GPS api...



When I went to put things on the screen, in one phone it was too big, on the other too small, in the other there are some distortion, in another one there are no distortion, another one lags with method "X", while other lags with method "Y", some are hardware accelerated, some aren't, some suck at supporting OpenGL properly, some suck at supporting anything that is not OpenGL properly, and so on...

Pedro Kayatt
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We did not have so much trouble, using a good engine usually solve most of the problems. But yes, always we need to tweak our engine to some bug found just in Tegra devices :(

Dan Porter
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Agreed Rey. Did you know there is a Droid phone with a 360 x 360 resolution? Google it. Its tiny and square... literally a 1:1 ratio. Now I doubt developers are clamoring to develop games targeting this phone, but the lack of standard hardware configurations makes it a nightmare to develop for.

Rey Samonte
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I guess my next question would be...how strict is the review process? If an app fails on a specific device, does it get rejected completely? Also, how does one go about verifying a fix for a failed device if that developer doesn't have the hardware to test on? I'm just trying to wrap my head around some of these compatibility issues.



As much as I would love to develop something for Android devices, I'm afraid the limited resources I have as an individual developer might limit my success in getting an app approved.

Dan Porter
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Just guessing, but I'd say the review process is probably less strict than iOS apps. Reviewing for every conceivable device would be tough to do, and Apple tends to want much tighter reins on their product than Android phone manufacturers. However, imagine how difficult it would be for a mobile game developer to maintain a positive reputation if some customers were able to download a game on a non-supported hardware configuration. They may well blame the developer rather than Android for their issues.

Pedro Kayatt
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For the one's that still out of the Android Market, the best thing about it is in fact that there's NO REVIEW! You just submit your app and it shows around which device it should work (you can also point the devices you want to deploy for).

The time to deploy, for me, is a big and nice differential from the Apple Store and the Wp7 deploy systems.

Kale Menges
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With support for HTML5 really starting to gain momentum, I think Android, as a platform, is really going to have a hard time distinguishing itself, capability-wise. It seems that Flash support was always one of the biggest bullet-points for Android. And I, too, think that the lack of standardized hardware configurations for Android does come into play for a lot of devs when considering platforms.

Linh Ngo
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The other really really bad thing about Android development is the app size limit. Although officially it is 50 MB (which is pathetic), unofficially it is closer to 30 MB due to limits during installation on some phone models. Our game is 110 MB and we have to either re-architect the game to use Unity's asset bundles (not a fun idea since it breaks the write-once run everywhere Unity model) or develop a custom loader app. Google is supposedly offering hosting app data up to several GB which the apps can access, but there doesn't seem much info on this even though it was announced over 6 months ago. So we will likely have to host the 110 MB download on our own servers which wouldn't be so bad if it were truly customers downloading it. More likely, we'll have to pay for the cost of whatever percentage of the downloaders who are actually pirates (so pirates will actually cost us money) which is a scary proposotion for a tiny indie studio.



Android really needs to step up its game. On iOS, I don't have to worry about any of this crap.

Pedro Kayatt
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I think has also to do with Flurry not being the main tracker for Android, for instance in our games we are using Google Analytics and we are very happy with it, putting flurry a side (we used to use it in the iOS titles).

James Coote
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I think most people start on iOS with a view to port to android if it is successful. I guess many of those projects started never translate into projects finished and successful enough to justify an android port



Why do people start with iOS? Because it has been proven to be profitable. I'm not sure anyone has really cracked android in terms of successfully monetising it



Android is going to go in two different directions:



1). Amazon devices competing with Apple



2). Dirt-cheap smartphones in developing countries



Thing is, both are some way off yet, so for now, despite android's popularity, iOS is where the money is


none
 
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