Why are there so many apps for Iphone only (not Android)?

As far as I can see, in 2013 the Iphone had about 40% share, and Android had over 50% for smartphones (the rest was Blackberry and Windows).

Yet I see apps all the time, especially commercial apps (by which I mean apps for businesses through which they want to do business with you) that are only for Iphone.

Now you can dispute the percentage of such apps, because I have no solid data except observation, but I guess I’m wondering why anyone would still only have such apps for Iphone and not for Android? Is it just how long it takes people to catch up to reality? Or is there some other factor that I am not seeing?

I am an Android user, never had an Iphone and I’m not an Apple person, so that may account for my missing something. Again, I am talking mainly about business-related apps, not games or music.

I don’t develop phone apps myself, but I have a friend who does, and he’s relayed the following:

  • iOS is less work to develop for due to the more limited number of devices. iOS has less market share than Android as a whole, but each of Apple’s devices are top sellers in their category. iOS is also kept up-to-date better than Android (mostly because of carrier laziness).
  • There’s less piracy among iOS users. Not clear why, but the ability to sideload apps without rooting/jailbreaking the device is probably a major part.
  • Apple users spend more money. Maybe this is due to demographic differences, or maybe Apple has better “trained” their users to pay for apps, but for whatever reason there’s more money in iOS.
  • This is decreasing over time, but there’s still a “cool factor” in the Apple world that Android hasn’t achieved yet. iOS is more popular among the people that develop mobile apps, and so that tends to be their first target.

I actually did develop mobile apps professionally for a while, and I can pretty much echo what Dr. Strangelove said. As much as one might decry the limited choices that Apple customers have, it sure makes things easier on developers. Knowing that you only had a handful of different aspect ratios and resolutions and hardware profiles to test against was very nice, as was the fact that iPhone/iPad/iPod users were generally forced to stay up to date: the usage share for old versions of iOS dropped so rapidly that we could almost ignore anything more than a generation old or so.

And iPhone users do tend to spend more money – presumably if you buy an expensive, trendy phone, you’re used to paying a premium and won’t balk at a dollar or two more when you get stuck in the next iteration of Candyfarmcrushvillebirds.

Also, and this is probably not really a factor, but I personally like Objective-C a lot more than Java. :wink: (Although the company I worked for most did development on both iOS and Android in C++. Which was a separate pain in the arse altogether…)

OK, I think I understand that line of reasoning, but it seems like it applies mostly to recreational apps, not business-related apps. That is, if I am a business and I want to have a mobile presence beyond just a mobile-friendly website, I would think it would be worth the extra money or trouble to develop an Android app as well as an iOS app. It would be free to the users, so the money or piracy aspects don’t apply.

The only point in your line of reasoning that might apply could be this (but it doesn’t seem like enough to me): if Android updates are uncertain, so that I can’t be sure that my Android app would work for all users, there is a risk of alienating some of them when they try it and it doesn’t work. The net risk of this seems small compared to the loss of over 50% market share.

I did remember one business that has only an iOS app - Lumber Liquidators. I don’t know what the app does (since I am an Android user), but I suppose it helps you figure out how much flooring you need, and helps you choose among the different types. They are a large nationwide concern and (if they had not already done so) they would be alienating me and others like me by implying that we are not cool enough (or something) to use their app.

So I still don’t really get it.

Sounds to me like it’s the simple bottom line. More money for less work = Apple apps. Not sure the developers ultimately care who feels left out. I wouldn’t.

Here’s an article hot off the presses that directly addresses this question. And all the reasons cited (towards the end) have been mentioned here. http://techland.time.com/2014/02/21/ios-vs-android-2/

I see two of those six factors that might affect business-related apps:

Supporting multiple platforms is tough - if you have an app that brings customers to your business (as distinct from a recreational app) then this becomes just a cost of doing business.

Developing for Android is a hassle - “maybe twice as hard” as doing it on iOS. Again, the extra hassle becomes just a cost of doing business.

OK, one more:

iOS users are more app-happy - I guess this means that even if you have a good and usable Android app, Android users are less likely to bother with it as a means of doing business with you. This one is a little more convincing; but it would take a lot of statistics to convince me (the business owner) to just write off over half of my potential customers.

Here’s something that I suspect is happening that isn’t mentioned directly in that article: the app developer does his best to steer his customer away from Android, inflating the actual difficulty and hassle factor, denying the market share opportunity, just because they don’t want to work with Android.

Anyway, thanks all for the input.