Mobile and cloud-app developers often don’t have a good deal of resources at their disposal. Because of that, the choice they make about supported platforms for their apps is a critical one.
Apple and Google currently battle for the attention of developers everywhere, and with good reason: the two rivals’ respective platforms command the bulk of the mobility (i.e., smartphones and tablets) market. Moreover, Apple’s Mac OS X and Google’s Chrome OS both have designs on laptops and desktops.
According to analytics-and-advertising firm Flurry, which monitors when developers begin work on mobile software via its Flurry Analytics platforms, Apple’s iOS is edging out Google Android as the platform of choice among app builders: for the first quarter of 2012, some 69 percent of Flurry new project starts were iOS, versus 31 percent for Android.
“For every 10 apps that developers build, roughly 7 are for iOS,” Peter Farago, a Flurry vice president, wrote in a June 7 posting that detailed the findings. “While Google made some gains in Q1 2012, edging up to over 30 percent for the first time in a year, we believe this is largely due to seasonality, as Apple traditionally experiences a spike in developer support leading up to the holiday season.”
The posting went on to suggest that the attractiveness of iOS lies largely in Apple’s ability to offer “a large, homogenous smartphone base for which to build software” along with a tablet capable of running those same apps. “That’s like getting two platforms for the price of one,” Farago wrote.
In Flurry’s estimation, the fragmentation of the Android platform is increasing the cost and complexity of app development, perhaps curbing third-party investment in software. “Further, this fragmentation is concentrated primarily in just smartphones,” he added, “as there is no serious Android tablet contender to the iPad.”
The firm’s data suggests that 70 percent of devices on the market run Gingerbread, an older Android iteration, while the tablet-optimized Honeycomb and the newer Ice Cream Sandwich occupy two percent and seven percent, respectively.
Apple and Google are heading into their respective WWDC and I/O conferences, during which executives will push either iOS or Android as the best foundation for developers looking to build mobile apps that heavily leverage the cloud. Some third-party developers will have the resources to build for both platforms; but still others may be forced to make some critical choices.