You have an app idea and a budget, and you’re ready to start building.
You’ve seen the headlines: while iOS has a solid market share, Android is bigger.
So the plan is to launch an iPhone and Android app simultaneously, or you’d be missing out on a huge number of users, right?
Well, it’s not that simple. In fact, in most cases, I advise clients to launch their app on iPhone first. And I’m not the only one. Companies with vast resources and dedicated development teams also choose to go iPhone first. Why?
For those huge companies, it’s not about budget. But for you, that’s probably more important. Unlike creating a single website which works on many different browsers, an app works on a single platform. You may have thought you were creating a single app, but you actually need two. That means the development cost just doubled. While an iPhone and Android app may look and function the same, there is no shared code between them.
And the doubling cost doesn't end after launch. Each bug that needs to be fixed must be fixed twice. Each new feature added, twice. Your ongoing maintenance budget just doubled too.
The Android cost could even be more than that. Android device “fragmentation” refers to the large number of different Android devices in use compared to iOS. Depending on the complexity of your app and target audience, fragmentation can drastically increase Android development cost. This is because each Android device is different and can exhibit unique bugs. Now that we understand the costs, is it worth it to reach all those Android users?
Installed on all those devices are a variety of Android OS versions too. Android users tend not to update their OS very quickly, so you have more OS versions to support and test. Only 8.5% of Android devices have the newest OS. Compare that to iOS where 88% have the latest OS. Both updates were released during Fall 2013 Consider this: compared with Android users, iPhone users spend 26 more minutes on their devices, spend 5x more on apps, and use more data. iPhone users are simply more engaged with their device. They will be your best users.
My strategy: focus on the iPhone users first, gather their feedback, make improvements to your app. You will quickly discover if the app is successful and whether to invest in an Android version. The worst that will happen is your Android version is delayed a few months.