Jul 18, 2011
Whenever I write about the Android’s general market for developers to release apps on, I like to hypothesize that each major move on Android only helps to legitimize it, and to push it closer to the iOS App Store. Like it or not, that is still the app store that others are trying to reach, the one that has led to success for many developers. While the Android Market is still lagging behind the iOS App Store, surely it will catch up in terms of quality apps and games, right? Well, what if that doesn’t happen? What if Android never becomes a destination for developers to release their apps on first?
Users might just not be interested in buying apps on Android. Perhaps they just are not interested in buying paid apps, or in trying to discover new ones. Perhaps Android just attracts two types of users: people who need a phone to text, take pictures, tweet, post to Facebook, and maybe play some Angry Birds; the other type would be the geeky crowd, the ones that love to root and customize their devices, and don’t necessarily focus on app/game usage. Perhaps it’s the case that because of the App Store being entrenched as the leading store for app usage, that users interested in using apps in particular are flocking to iOS, instead of trying to go to Android. Essentially, developing on Android is a stopgap solution. The demand for apps on Android comes from users interested in the apps on other platforms, and once there is enough attention on the app on iOS, its potential for success on Android becomes astronomically higher.Â
On the development side, iOS development is not a guarantee of profitability at all. There are plenty of independent developers struggling on the iOS App Store with their apps and games, even the ones making some of the best products on the platform. It has gotten to a point where even being featured on the front of the App Store is hardly a guarantee of financial success for an app, in particular. Developers have reported spikes, but not enough to make their game an instant financial success. If this is true, then why would developers spend their time releasing for a platform with fewer benefits?
It’s not as if Android is particularly hurting for quality apps. Major services all have competent apps, the iOS game ports are regularly increasing in number to the point where Android secretly has a decent little game library going for it; there aren’t many great exclusives, necessarily, but plenty of decent Android-only titles as well. Really, if Android just becomes a platform to separate the wheat from iOS’ chaff, along with more customization and geek-friendly options? Is that really so bad?