Android or iPhone: Which platform should you build for first?

Promatics Technologies
Published on Apr 06, 2018 in App Development
Android or iPhone: Which platform should you build for first?

Android and iPhone are two major mobile platforms with millions of users. If you plan to use the mobile ecosystem to expand your business and reach more users, you first have to decide - which platform to build first?

It is a common business strategy to build a mobile app for one platform first, test it, get user feedback and then start working on building the app for another platform. Here are some factors that you need to consider when looking for an answer – which platform to build first?

Factors that you need to consider

The major factors on which decision about platform will be based are – your target audience, main app features, project timeline, app maintenance, and your revenue goals. Here are some statistics and data related to these factors that will help you decide which platform to build first – iPhone or Android.

Target Audience

First of all, you need to know what devices your target audience is using. The key to knowing more about your target audience is research. You need to consider factors like demographic characteristics and geographical locations of your target audience. For example, if you are developing a mobile app for North America or Western Europe, the iPhone platform might be right for you, however, if your target audience resides in other parts of the world, Android will be the best choice. There are other things that you should consider when choosing between platforms. Here are some facts and differences between Android and iPhone users that can help you make the right decision.

  • Android is more popular in Latin America, Asia, and African markets. A large number of Android users work in technical jobs and a larger number of men prefer Android devices.
  • iPhone users are affluent and earn around 40% more than Android users. This also means that they are more likely to spend more on mobile apps and you can consider developing a paid mobile app. iPhone is popular within the younger generation and iPhone has a greater market share in the user group from 18 to 24 years.
  • Women prefer iPhones and a large number of iPhone users belong to a highly educated lot. Also, a large number of iPhone users work at managerial posts. The iPhone platform offers more security and hence a large number of enterprise apps are built for the iPhone platform.
  • iPhone users spend more time on their devices and also more money on apps. Also, a comparatively larger number of users use their iPhones to make purchases.

Project timeline

If you have set a hard date for the release of your mobile app and don’t have much time in hand, the iPhone platform is your best bet. Building apps for iPhone platform is faster, as you are only targeting one device which makes things easier. According to top mobile application developers, developing an Android app takes 30 to 40% longer time in comparison to iPhone. One of the reasons for iPhone apps shorter development time is that there is less code to be written in Swift, which is Apple’s official programming language. On the other hand, Java is the primary programming language used to write code for Android apps and developers have to write 40% more code on average when building them. Though a large amount of code is auto-generated, mobile app development companies still have to look for bugs and maintain code, which consequently stretches development time.

Another reason is that Android is an open-source mobile platform and there is less standardization of the development process and more software fragmentation due to a great variety of devices and hardware components. There is no such thing when developing iPhone apps. Apple’s app development is a closed ecosystem and mobile app design and development companies have to play by Apple’s development rules when developing iPhone apps. If the iPhone apps do not meet Apple’s standard, they are outright rejected.

Android or iPhone: Which platform should you build for first?

Main app features

If you are looking for more flexibility in features, Android platform suits perfectly well. Since Android is an open-source platform, app developers have deeper access to the app framework and APIs. They also have more freedom when it comes to designing unique features and you can build features that your audience wants. The feature richness of the Android platform can be judged from the fact that you have “mods” of Android OS. Custom ROMs like Paranoid Android and Cyanogen Mod are highly popular for Android users who do not like stock ROMs.

Unlike the iPhone platform, Android has more unique features that are helpful when designing mobile apps. Some of the unique features Android platform supports are NFC, alternate keyboards, automation, no-touch control, multi-language support, infrared transmission, support for flash memory, wireless app downloads, custom home screens, widgets, and many more. Also, Google provides a large number of APIs and libraries that reduce the coding work and enables app developers to build unique features in their mobile apps.

App Maintenance

App maintenance is an important factor in mobile app development. If you are choosing Android platform as your first, you need to prep yourself for spending more time on app maintenance. One of the reasons behind this is Android users are slow when adopting new operating system versions. Many times they continue to use older versions of the Android operating system and you will end up spending a large amount of time and money fixing bugs for different Android OS versions.

You will be surprised to know that around 50% of Android users are using older versions of Android OS, like Lollipop and Marshmallow. As per recently released statistics, Nougat, the latest version of Android OS, has a market share of just 28.5% followed by Marshmallow at 28.1% and Lollipop at 24.6%. This factor not only makes app development more difficult but it also makes app maintenance a hectic task.

With iPhone, it is a different thing altogether. According to the latest statistics, the latest iOS 11.2 version has the highest market share of 61.03% followed by iOS 10.3 version having a market share of 12.26%.

App monetization or revenue goals

If you have set specific revenue goals for your mobile app, you need to know the main differences between Android and iPhone platforms in relation to app monetization.

  • Android users are less likely to buy an app and the mainstream of revenue is through in-app purchases and in-app ads. You can find a large number of free apps in every category on Android and it can be a difficult exercise to convince the buyer to purchase your app when they have so many free options available that might be equally good.
  • Though the Apple store has fewer apps and downloads in comparison to GooglePlay, it still generates twice the revenue of Google Play. The message is clear: iPhone users are at the forefront when buying premium apps.
  • iPhone users make more in-app purchases and your app might garner good revenue if your app monetization strategy revolves around in-app purchases
  • Shopping apps are the biggest revenue generators and highest revenue through sales are from North America
  • China is the biggest revenue generator for the iPhone platform while Asian users spend around 40% on in-app purchases
  • Both Google and Apple are pushing subscription models through mobile apps and the app developers earn a bigger revenue cut from earnings

The basic idea behind discussing app monetization is that revenue can be earned from different streams like in-app purchases, freemium models and subscription models. If app monetization is one of your primary goals or you are looking to develop e-commerce apps, the iPhone platform can be your best bet. However, there is a very small gap when it comes to revenue generation between the Apple Store and Google Play and many businesses are earning good revenue from their Android apps as well.

When to develop for iPhone platform first?

A large number of businesses build a mobile app for iPhone due to target demographics. If you are looking to build a minimum viable product and have tight budget and timeline, iPhone is the platform to go. Also, there is a lot of learning to be done in the initial stages of the app development and everything might not work as you have assumed. Developing an MVP gives you enough time for testing what is working and what isn’t, and you are more confident when moving to the next platform. Also, a large number of startups go for the iPhone platform first due to lower capital requirements in comparison.

When to develop for Android platform first?

You need to choose Android platform first if your target audience comprises a large number of Android users and your company is focusing on global markets including Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The Android platform might be a safe bet especially if you are looking to build innovative features which iPhone platform may not support. However, before selecting the Android platform first, you need to collect enough information about the hardware on which the app will run.

Concluding Note

The decision about which platform to build first cannot rely only on the data collected in the consideration process. In addition, you need to look at other data points and scenarios that you might come across when analyzing information.

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About the author
Promatics Technologies
Promatics Technologies
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Promatics is a young, rising software development agency from India. They have wide expertise ready to take on the most demanding projects on web and mobile app development, e-commerce, digital marketing, cloud solutions, quality assurance and IT consulting. In the mobile field, they have expert app developers ready to work on Android, iOS, HTML5 and wearables projects.

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