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06.21.11     observations  

Why Apple is (and will be) Crushing Android

Photographers Contract Maker and Contract Maker Pro have been available for Apple users for well over a year now. I must be honest with you, it took some time for these to be profitable, but I am pleased to say it has been worth it. We have had so many requests for an Android version of Contract Maker, that I decided to take a serious look at and move forward with it.

Having invested a significant amount of time and money on development of this upcoming Android version, I have some observations I want to share. I know there are a lot of very Android passionate people out there, and I hope you don't take offense to this, but having developed the same type of App on both platforms, as well as owning devices on which run them, I think I have some pretty good insight: Android has a LOT of work to do.

Some analysts are projecting that Android will surpass Apple in terms of number of Apps sometime this year. Apple has some 500,000 Apps, Android is catching up quickly with about 300,000. This is probably one of the most idiotic ways to compare platform competitiveness. Why? Because Android can publish their Apps without going through the same screening process iPhone App developers have to endure. This initially sounds like something in favor for Android, right? Wrong. What it means is: Lots of poor quality Apps. A huge number of Android Apps are crap. Only a very small fraction of Android Apps are stand alone winners, in fact, a recent study showed that 80% of all paid Android Apps will sell fewer than 100 copies, ever. This is not a typo. (BTW-I will need to sell 1700 of them at $4.99 to break even on this whole Android adventure).

Android says it is "open source", which is true and also sounds really nice. It isn't nice. Why? Well, one problem we ran into in development was that the "tool kit" that comes with Android (software tools that let you put cool features into the apps themselves) was lacking critical features we needed, which meant we had to find an outside solution (very expensive) to buy, license and then plug in. Some of the companies selling these solutions wanted 15%-30% of all profits earned, in addition to a $3000 licensing fee. You know where I told them to go.

Perhaps this was relative only to my App, but having to find and purchase these outside solutions is not cost effective at all. The SDK "tools" (which controls things like UI, or User Interface) which Apple produces and updates for its developers are cutting edge and very polished. They are included in the kits (free) and they are updating them like hot cakes. Sometimes it is hard for me to keep up with all the new features. We see several updates a year from Apple.

There are some additional developer problems I am seeing, namely with cross platforms, it makes it that much harder to produce a high quality product on every device running Android.

Another problem is how customer refunds are managed through Google Checkout, while I havent personally dealt with this myself, I have read and heard that it is a pain. Apple usually handles this, not so with Android, the developer gets to take care of this, as well as a TON of customer support issues relating to NOTHING to do with the app; including download issues, cross platform issues, user error issues for example. These problems do not exist in Apples system.

You remember that lush number of 300,000 Android Apps I gave at the beginning? Turns out about 32% of them cannot even be downloaded anymore. What this means is 95,000 Android Apps have been removed from the Android Market. Apple has some of this too, but at only 16%. Mathematicians will calculate this to mean that Android has twice as many Apps pulled from their shelves as Apple.

What I am getting to is this; while I originally thought the SDK and screening process for Apple Apps was a pain, the truth of the matter is, Apple has their game on, and it has been worth it. I am more so convinced of this than ever. I really hope the Android platform can step up because a good competitor always pushes everyone to do better.

If there aren't some major improvements in quality control, cross platform stability, SDKs/tool kits, customer service, etc, the trend we will see is that more and more developers will give up on Android, simply because it is much harder to make a profit with them.

As far as I am concerned, this isn't even a contest right now. Even now, after all this time and money spent on Android development, I am seriously considering shelfing the Android version of Contract Maker simply because I would like to avoid all the headaches that come with it.

Just my 2 cents….

If you would like some more information, be sure to check out these links:

Why it is Harder to Make Money as an Android Developer
Why Android Apps have "Pathetically Low Quality"
Why Apple Apps are Outnumbering Android Apps
Customer Service Headaches With Android

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