Why the Android/iOS battle isn't just about numbers

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

My little Android buddy

Here’s the reason one mobile developer is getting out of the Android game:

We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another – porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc.  I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn’t go through.  We spent thousands on various test hardware.  These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android.  Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink.  Needless to say, this ratio is unsustainable.

This is the hidden cost of fragmentation – support costs. Unless Google (and I think the liability falls with Google here, rather than the device manufacturers) finds a way to make Android scale more smoothly to the huge variety of form factors its being run on, it’ll remain a less attractive platform for developers.

And I can’t help but recall Alex Watson from Dennis talking about the sheer volume of support calls they received when they launched onto iOS’s Newsstand. If Android generates even more support requests, publishers should be very, very careful about how and when they launch on it…

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.