As Business Analysts here at Degree 53, we work with our clients to define what their mobile app will be and one of the most common questions we are asked (other than “How are you going to make my product amazing?”) is “Which platform should we be focusing on?”.
In an ideal world, products would be cross-platform and not limited to a single operating system. HTML5 web applications do go some of the way to bridge this gap – but often at the expense of functionality and quality. Alternatively, we would develop versions of the product for each platform, but often there may not be the business-case or budget to do this.
Instead, we will often recommend a Minimum Viable Product that is aimed at a single operating system; making the project more commercially acceptable to the client and allowing product development through iteration. But that still doesn’t answer the question – which platform?
One of Degree 53’s core principles is that we only develop the right product for the business – as such, there is no right and wrong answer to the question of platforms. Instead, we work with each client to make the decision together based on the following considerations:
Platform Market Share
If the client already has an existing customer base, the best option is to look at the devices already being used. This can be done using popular tracking tools such as Google Analytics.
If the client doesn’t have an existing customer base or are taking their first steps into the mobile domain, we need to look at device trends.
Current estimates for international smartphone trends tell us that Android are leading strongly with a 85 - 15% Android - iOS split. However, this ratio varies dramatically across regions – particularly in the UK where the market share is split at closer to 45 – 45% (with Windows and Blackberry making up the difference).
It is worth noting that caution must be taken with many of these statistics. They can be based on different regions or demographics that will lean more heavily in favour of one platform over another and may not be indicative of the true trend. For example, asking a business that strongly supports iOS over Android for their mobile demographics and unsurprisingly you will see a higher trend in iOS users.
We might now know which platform is likely to have a higher potential customer-base, but that still doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be commercially successful.
With a higher volume of Android users globally, it comes as no surprise that more Android apps are downloaded than iOS (by approx. 60%) – however App Store revenue for iOS is around 60% higher than Android, which means one thing; iOS users are more likely spend more than Android users. This trend continues when we look outside of the App Stores and into mobile commerce, with iOS users again spending around 60% more than Android.
This makes sense when you consider the generalisation that Android devices are cheaper and more accessible to less affluent users (especially in lower-income countries where Android devices make up around 85% of smartphones), whereas iOS devices are high-end products aimed at wealthier customers who are more likely to spend more.
This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as the behaviour becomes the norm in the marketplace; businesses become aware that Android users tend to spend less and will look towards revenue from ad-supported products, making it difficult in the future to drive revenue from more traditional means.
The final consideration is the product itself. The different App Stores have different guidelines on what is and isn’t acceptable. For example, Google Play will not allow any applications to be distributed if they facilitate Gambling, whereas Apple permits Gambling products, but not applications that use external paid-subscription methods (that you might see in Netflix or Amazon Prime for example).
As such, it is vital to understand early on, exactly what is required from a product and how any potential revenue will be driven, before making a decision about platforms.
Degree 53 has extensive experience of getting clients’ products into the hands (and devices) of their customers; we have knowledge of a number of distribution methods including:
- Responsive Websites
- Working and negotiating with App Stores to ensure that mobile apps meet their strict guidelines
- The production of external application delivery strategies when official App Store distribution is not an option; for example developing bespoke application library and download pages for client websites
We hope you have found this insight into our processes useful.