New evidence released by Business Week and Flurry indicates that Apple is winning the mobile app war against Android. The Apple App Store now attracts three times as many app submissions than Google’s Android Market, with many developers preferring iOS mainly because of the device fragmentation issues that continue to plague Android.
Even though Android now has a greater market share than iOS due to the sheer number of handset makers onboard, the selection of apps still doesn’t match Apple’s store and the gap seem to be continually widening. In January there were more than 550,000 iOS apps, whereas Android topped an impressive 400,000 since launch in 2008.
Apple Apps Provide a More Consistent User Interface
Developers face several challenges in developing for Android that just don’t apply to iOS, not least the huge range of Android device capabilities and screen sizes means that apps rarely look the same across all smartphones or tablets. In contrast, most developers find the combination of coding tools, consistency in user interface and ease of publishing via iTunes is a very simple process, and allows a more streamlined experience for consumers in terms of buying and using apps.
The waning interest in developing for Android may be industry wide; in late 2011 fewer developers were “very interested” in producing Android apps according to a survey conducted by IDC and Appcelerator. In the same period, developer interest in Apple devices remained consistent with developers citing fragmentation in the Android ecosystem as the main reason for lack of interest.
Apple iOS is More Profitable for Developers
Developers can make 2-3 times the profit on iOS apps and games than their Android counterparts, partly because it takes several months longer to code for Android due to the proliferation of devices which ultimately means higher costs. Apple has just one app store, whereas Android has several (such as Google Market and the Amazon App Store) so it’s more expensive and entails considerably more effort to submit apps to every store. Right now, it’s simply possible to make more money on iOS and this fact continues to attract developers in increasing numbers.
Google Combats Android Fragmentation
The mobile industry clearly sees the Apple App Store as the current frontrunner, but Android has the potential to catch up especially if Google can create a more unified store that’s as simple to use as iTunes, and if it can mitigate the complex issues surrounding device fragmentation.
There are already moves afoot by Google to combat the problem, such as insisting that new Android devices which have Android Market installed must include the Ice Cream Sandwich “Holo” theme, meaning that developers who use it can be sure their apps will be more or less consistent across each device.
Apple and Google Carve Up Mobile OS Market
In the end, the ongoing battle between iOS and Android can only benefit consumers because it encourages innovation and competition between rival manufacturers. Google and Apple have carved up the entire mobile OS market for themselves, leaving little room for rival systems – even the once mighty Symbian has been dropped by Nokia in favour of Windows Phone 7.
Both Android and iOS remain a solid choice for smartphone and tablet developers, and with sales rocketing there’s never been a better time to jump on the bandwagon.