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Instagram release illustrates why developers pick iOS over Android

By Lex Friedman
April 5, 2012 05:21 PM ET

Macworld - Earlier this week, Instagram--the beloved iPhone app for snapping, filtering, and sharing photographs--arrived on Android phones, nearly a year and half after the iPhone app's initial release. Until that time, folks using Android phones could only look on longingly as their iPhone-wielding friends snapped and shared photos on the growing network, which topped 30 million members before making the leap to Android.

And Instagram's gradual iOS-to-Android transition is not unusual. It took almost a year for Angry Birds to make its pig-hating way from iOS to Android, and twice that long for Words With Friends. So it's clearly not uncommon for hugely successful apps to launch on the iPhone, only to show up on Android many moons later. But for apps to make the opposite leap--from Android to iPhone--is exceedingly uncommon. There are two key reasons why that dichotomy exists: money and simplicity.

In fact, if an app isn't built by Google, odds are good that it's coming to Android only well after it arrives on the iPhone--if at all. Sure, Android phones got Gmail first (and, frankly, they can keep it). But it's rare for Android to get major apps first, and the situation hasn't improved despite Android's continued impressive adoption rates.

Why Android's market share doesn't matter

Although recent reports suggest that the iPhone is outselling all other smartphones combined, comScore still says that Android phones make up a little more than half the market.

But even if Android is the market share king, developers aren't targeting the platform with the enthusiasm they lavish on iOS. That's partly because of the other major devices that the App Store caters to--the iPad and the iPod touch--two lines that few Android devices can reasonably claim to compete with successfully.

ComScore also tells us, however, that iPhone owners use both Wi-Fi and cellular connections on their phones significantly more often than Android phone users do. That might mean Android device owners just can't figure out how to use their phones' Wi-Fi. The more likely explanation for the sharp difference--one set forth by John Gruber, among others--is that a lot of Android device owners use their smartphones as something less than that: touchscreen machines for texting and calls, perhaps with the occasional game or two.

Whatever the reason, Android users aren't buying apps. And that's a problem for that platform, since developers, like Willie Sutton, prefer to...

Go where the money is

Developers, like all of us, enjoy earning money in exchange for the work that they do. And developers with experience on both platforms report emphatically that they can make more money in the iOS App Store than they can in any of the several stores that cater to Android device users.

Originally published on www.macworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
Reprinted with permission from Macworld.com. Story copyright 2012 Mac Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
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