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App Developers Increasingly Choose iOS over AndroidBy Barry Levine
Posted: June 8, 2012 10:49am PDT
The vast majority of mobile applications are being developed for Apple's iOS platform -- and the percentage is rising. That's the takeaway from a new report by Flurry Analytics, which shows that the number of app project starts for Google's Android is less than half those for iOS.
The report found that 69 percent of application development projects in the first quarter of this year were for Apple's OS, and 31 percent for Android. The percentage of apps for iOS has increased by 6 percent from the same period last year.
Android's percentage has also increased slightly, topping 30 percent for the first time in this new report. The previous high-level mark for Android in Flurry's reports was 27 percent last quarter. In the last five quarters, about 63 percent to 75 percent of application project starts have been for iOS.
The findings come as developers for the two platforms head out later this month to their respective annual developer conferences -- the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference and Google I/O.
Flurry Analytics provides several reasons for Apple's huge advantage in app development. First, iOS apps work on both iPhone and iPads.
"Apple offers the most compelling 'build once, run anywhere' value proposition in the market today, delivering maximum consumer reach to developers for minimal cost," Flurry said
And, of course, the iPad remains overwhelmingly dominant in the tablet category. Flurry's analysis shows the iPad with 88 percent of the market. The Samsung Galaxy Tab takes a distant second at 9 percent, with Amazon's Kindle Fire at 3 percent.
There's also the fragmentation in the Android market, which Flurry predicts will increase because of device and firmware differences.
In terms of devices, the company noted that 17 of the top 20 Android handsets have market shares of 6 percent or less, and there is no major Android tablet competitor to the iPad.
As for firmware, seven different versions of Android have been measured by Flurry, with 70 percent running the third most recent release, Gingerbread. The bottom line, the company said, is that "the majority of consumers are running on an Android operating system that is three or four iterations old."
This disparate market situation for Android may change in the coming year, as Google moves to modify its previous pattern of partnering initially with one manufacturer when there's a new Android release. Now, Google is expected to work with several manufacturers simultaneously, perhaps as many as five or six, to release new models containing an updated version of the OS.
All these differences in the two platforms translate into a major revenue difference for iOS developers. According to the report, a developer is able to earn four times as much by creating apps for the iOS platform as for Android.
The Tablet Factor
We asked Al Hilwa, program director for Application Development at IDC, how big an issue Android fragmentation was for developers.
"With iOS out there presenting a massive platform to leverage, it puts Android in a bad place," Hilwa said.
The fragmentation issue, he said, is "a serious and complex issue for Google," and it particularly is difficult for small developers to address given all the variations among devices.
Hilwa also said it was hard to overestimate the importance of the iPad's dominance in the tablet category on developers' approach to the two platforms.
"Tablets are a key driver in developers' decision about platforms to target," he said, because the larger screen size is so appealing.
Flurry based its findings on its anonymous, daily measurements of 1.2 billion end user sessions, aggregated from more than 100 million devices. Additionally, the company tracks new projects created in Flurry Analytics, for which platform-specific software development kits are downloaded.
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