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Launching first on iOS makes perfect sense

This is an homage to @vikalchev and his post about why it doesn't make sense to launch on iOS first, and also a tip of the hat to @rab who did something similar the other day.

So I think launching on iOS first makes perfect sense and here's why.

Part of the problem with talking about Android's market share is that "Android" doesn't mean anything. Hear me out.

If you tell someone you have an iPhone then they pretty much know exactly what you're talking about. It's also pretty safe to say you've got the most recent OS installed, even if your phone is several generations old*.

On the other hand when someone tells you that they have an "Android" phone... well what does that exactly mean? If you asked my mum what kind of phone she has, she would definitely say "Android", but it's a £60 piece of shit that can't run anything. Whereas my brother would also say "Android" but he has the latest flagship Samsung device.

As a developer this is difficult to build for, and more importantly those much lauded market share numbers mean next to nothing. Ok, Android has 75% market share (or whatever the number is), but of that 75% how many of those devices are nasty pieces of shit? I don't have the data (does anyone?) but I'd wager it's high.

Secondarily to that, how many of these devices have the latest OS installed? I've only done a quick google and found some data that suggests, as of 2019, as little as 10% of devices had the latest OS installed**.

At least for a while, it seems that Google had stopped releasing this number due to the embarrassment of it being called out at Apple keynotes***. I'm unsure if this is still the case but according to this article they still don't release OS adoption as a percentage.

The last point, and probably one which is a by-product of all of the above is the fact that iOS users spend twice as much on apps as Android users****. There are many many datasets out there that show this, but I've linked one below anyway.

To summarise:

1: Fractured Android device landscape
2: Fractured Android OS landscape
3: Android users less inclined to spend money

All of the above makes it clear why launching on iOS first is very much the right thing to do.

*Citation: iOS running in over 80% of devices up to 4 years old

**Citation: Only 10% on latest Android OS 9 months after release

***Citation: Google embarrassed by OS uptake numbers

****Citation: Apple users spend twice as much as Android users

  1. 5

    I built my app for iOS only and I don't have plans anytime soon to add android support. Sure, I might be missing out on some customers that have android but, I'm a solo dev. I'd rather focus on a single OS and perfect my app, than try to build on two fronts. I've always had an iPhone so its easy to test with and I'm familiar with the ecosystem. I don't have an android to test with and don't want to wade into territory I know nothing about

  2. 2

    I think the answer, like anything in life is - it depends. Being someone who built an Android app instead of an iOS app on purpose, I have a little experience in this area. Signils has been downloaded 130000 times since it launched last September. It is currently installed on 14166 devices in 145 countries but we really only have about 6500 users.

    Have people had problems running my app? Yes, and for Signils it was a matter of Bluetooth chipset support on specific hardware devices - not a software problem (Signils manages Bluetooth devices). So when I have seen large numbers of people that have the same device having issues, I simply go into the Device catalog and I disable them - people with those versions are not allowed to download and use our app.

    We've had issues but more because my developers stumbled over their own two feet and botched up Bluetooth identification and discovery a bit so it isn't as reliable and as accurate as it should be but we've had a release waiting in the wings to address and fix those issues. We also had a major bug in one of our releases that caused significant crashes.

    We're not generating much revenue from it at this point but I know that's because of a combination of our issues and we need additional features that I can't currently afford to pay to develop. Once I find a job and this becomes my side hustle, I've got a list of features users have been asking for us to build.

    1. 2

      I know you're saying "it depends", but what you wrote sounds like a perfect case against android development.

      1. 1

        I think the opposite is true - I think I've proven people like the app. We just haven't come across the right combination of features and functionality and combination of free/paid to properly monetize it. In fact, I wish that I wouldn't have put any money into my first business idea because at least people want this.

        We've also had a lot of bugs and you'll get that no matter if you develop on iOS or Android. The next version also has ads in the free version so we'll see what that does.

        And the reason why I said it depends is that in the case of our app, hardware can be (but isn't necessarily) a critical component. I only excluded 57 devices, leaving 18451 still able to download and install the app. My point is if your app doesn't work on old Android hardware, don't support that old Android hardware.

  3. 2

    This is a great post. I learned React Native, but I decided I don’t want to build cross-platform for many of the reasons you outlined. So I learned SwiftUI and have now built my first native iOS app. I have no intentions currently of learning Kotlin. I may use React Native again, but for personal projects, I’ll probably only build for iOS.

    1. 1

      Thank you, glad you liked it.

  4. 1

    I was reluctant at the beginning, but gave Flutter a try for developing Newsletterss and I'm super happy with the result. You are very right about Android fragmentation, and also monetization. So far, my Android subscriber base is close to none, but I get the benefit of having an additional distribution channel.

    Also, now with Flutter 2.0 you also get Desktop apps, which will allow me to expand to macOS in the near future with minimum effort.

  5. 1

    Yup.

    I think if you build a very simple app, something like Flutter or React Native is the way to go imo, but as complexity increases or you need more hardware capabilities, I'd almost always opt for native and in that case start with iOS.

    1. 1

      Idk about react, but building platform specific code is integrated into flutter. If you're new, go ahead with flutter imo.

    2. 1

      I started learning some React myself - to build my own web application. Not being a coder, it's been a challenge but I've been enjoying it.

    3. 1

      That’s good point.
      Flutter, React Native are perfect for rapid app development, prototyping, Flutter is perfect for rapid UI development etc etc, good for startups in early stage looking for fast and affordable way to deliver app asap for both OSes. What is pretty interesting, Facebook created React Native and used it to develop only one of their own mobile apps for iOS, so majority of them are created in swift/obj-c. Just curious : does anybody knows if google uses flutter to develop their own mobile apps for iOS ?

      1. 1

        The app for Google Ads is built with Flutter.

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