Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Developers Misguided on App Platform Targeting

That could be the alternative headline for this article from TechCrunch. Let's look at a bit:
Forrester found that more than a third (35%) of respondents target iPhones as their first priority device vs less than a third (27%) who target Android phones first... ...For the time being, iOS continues to punch above its weight by being the platform developers tend to choose to launch apps on first. 
Um... sure. That's not at all biased. It's not "has closed to just a 7 point difference" or anything.   But I have another issue.

I speak not as the anti Apple fanboi, but from my experience working for a couple clients. In the last year I have worked on (if nothing slips my mind) five mobile apps. Some are multi-platform. ONE was first built on iOS. And that because... the app developer the client picked (before I got there) was comfortable on iOS. Insisted stuff that they wanted couldn't be done in Android "as easily." Stuff like connecting to Bluetooth devices. Sure. (They also decided design was hard so just sorta ignored what I got paid to do, and built something else.)

If we go back the previous year, I did another half dozen apps or app projects. 2/3rds of those did start on iOS. Here, again, because of the developers. They had a write-once (hybrid, apparently) platform and decided [a poorly conceived] iOS version was the baseline.

When marketing gets involved, without any whiny developers, they look at the actual data and pick platforms their target audience uses. And more often than not this actual data is right. They are happy, to have spent money on the most result first.

In all cases where multiple platforms were launched... it depends. Android was not always the clear winner. Sometime BlackBerry had surprising use rates (over 20% in some user groups*). The lesson is:

  1. Do some research, check your Web analytics, and target what your audience really uses and wants to use. 
  2. Stop asking developers what they prefer.
* Yeah, that was last year. BBOS has dropped off to nothing in most cases now. 

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