P.S. – This post was inspired by this post on Mashable which made me think on this topic. Since iOS and Android are the dominant platforms I am only bringing these two into the discussion for now.
In my earlier post I had covered about which platform to go for as a consumer. But from a business perspective, stakes are more high when you are a developer and thinking of extending your existing software or creating a new one for the mobile devices. Making mobile apps and a good one at that takes a lot of time, energy and money(tangible, intangible) so its important to figure out the canvas before you start building.
Choosing that canvas is what I would delve into.
Just to share, I am not a mobile developer, at-least not yet, but I am interested in technology, the mobile space and being a very heavy user of apps on a everyday basis I am very inquisitive of the business side and the scope of innovation it has to offer.
The world of software is rapidly getting replaced by Apps be it on Mobile or on the Browser as extensions. And more and more people are moving away from Computing on their desktops/laptops and using their mobiles/tablets for all their computing needs.
So its imperative for software developers to also think of having presence on mobile or else their relevance in today’s fast evolving technology will rapidly fade. And it’s no mystery that all things be equal among software providers, it the value addition, its who gives you more value for the buck, which ultimately decides which software provider will be in business and thrive, or even survive to begin with.
The question is fairly simple – iOS or Android?
Sub-question even more simpler – Mobile or Tablet or Both.
I think once you have answered the main question, the sub-question shouldn’t be very difficult.
From my point of view, I would require the following to even begin contemplating to answer the first one, iOS vs Android, should I choose –
- Target market region – continent, country, state : This will help you get some idea of which platform your customers or potential customers are on or will be. For example, if majority of your customers are already using iOS on at-least one device, building an Android app will exclude them right from their start and vice-versa.
- User Personas of your existing customers : These will give you some idea of what devices they are on and whether they own multiples devices such as tablets and if yes then which one.
- Your plans of the extent of presence on mobile/tablet : You need to be reasonably clear as to how much are willing to invest in building your app and to what level. If all you want is basic functionality to extend the existing PC software, then there is a chance that you can build on multiple platforms right from the start. If something deeper then you should have as much clarity as possible in choosing a platform.
- Your team as it stands or are you willing to outsource the development work(part or in full) : If you plan to build your app in-house then you must assess which platform your developers are comfortable on and why. Since they are ones who will be slogging it out, having their consensus is critical. Even if they are not well versed with the platform being chosen from a business perspective, you may want to have some kind of training sessions to get them going. If you plan to outsource a part or a chunk of it then you need to do some homework on existing developers and shortlist a few to start a conversation. Their history of building apps, coding capabilities, support capabilities need to be looked into before bringing them on-board.
- The latest trend as far as usage on mobiles go :
- Dominant mobile platform region wise along with version statistics - This is to further breakdown which version is in use. Whether majority in iOS are on the latest version or not. If Android then there are multiple versions still running. Why is this important is because, if you are building on the latest version of any platform but if your customers are using old versions then chances are some functionality which you spent so much time on may not even usable on their versions. This needs to be correlated with the regions as per your customer profile.
- Paid vs free app usage stats on each platform - Which platform is able to sell more paid apps than free ones. You can also have a category wise breakdown, say your category is Arcade Games, then whether more people are ready to pay on iOS or Android for a particular game. It may also help to have usage statistics, for example, whats the % of people who have downloaded the app, but have not come back in terms of using it. How many % of them are on old app versions even when you have updated your app. Whether people update paid apps more frequently than free ones.
- Developers statistics - Are developers earning more on a particular platform, compared to other platform, is there any particular category where earnings is more even though overall earnings may be less. Like for example, in Games category Android developers are earning more, but within Games, Arcade games developers are earning more on iOS.
- Commerce statistics on the platform : Reflects spending habits. A lot of transactions are taking place on mobiles. Whether it is buying movie tickets, shopping, buying travel tickets packages etc. This gives an indication of the user persona of the platform customers. If more transactions happen on iOS, then this info can be useful in certain decision makings viz-a-viz your app. For example if you want to have in-app purchase or your app is a paid one, this info can be very useful.
These are fairly comprehensive data to help you in your decision making.
Some other decisions you will have to make at some point or pivot as need be –
- Start with Phone or designed not scaled for Tablet or both at the same time.
- Free or paid ?
- If paid, should we start with promotions.
- When to have promotions if at all?
- App road-map, how often to release updates, release notes.
- Ads or without ads
- Marketing the app(a whole new subject of discussion all-together and may be a blog post)
- Other topics like UX, UI which is more of going into the blueprint, design etc.
Hope the above info gives helps you in some way to start your app journey to the mobile/tablet. Let me know if I have missed something or if something needs to be fixed/updated in terms of content.