More on Android development costs - and opportunities

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Paul St John Mackintosh responds to my earlier post about the BBC’s Android costs:

Naturally, 3,000 different device sizes and capabilities are going to be harder and more expensive to develop for than around a thousand times fewer formats. But that diversity is in itself evidence of Android’s great strength: Proliferation into markets, niches, and formats that Apple has never been able to capture. Anyone giving up on Android development on cost grounds is giving up on those as well.

The problem he doesn’t address, though, is that there’s little evidence for publishers that those markets, niches and formats are valuable to publishers – and some evidence that they aren’t.

This is a fascinating issue – it’s clear that the iOS and Android ecosystems are very different, and the dynamics are more complex than advocates on either side are comfortable discussing. I had more “off the record” contact around that post than any I’ve done for years. There’s some interesting suggestion that the BBC’s figure is distorted by the fact that it’s a catch-up cost, and that development is being pushed fast because of the vocal Andriod community.

However, several others said that a 3:1 Android:iOS cost ratio is pretty much a standard rule of thumb. If that’s true – and I have only anecdotal evidence that it is – Google needs to give a solid solution to the fragmentation issue if Android development can really take advantage of the device numbers out there.

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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.