This is one problem that has just started affecting me recently. I’m starting to find that a lot of companies these days when releasing Mobile Apps are coming out with their iOS version weeks sometimes months before their Android version.

Case in point. The recent success of Grand Theft Auto V is known to all, and those people who played the game (myself included) also know about the iFruit mobile app. While most people found it to be pretty pointless (looking after Chop the dog. Really?) it did include a nice feature to get yourself a custom number plate for your cars. Like most things online, the number plates were first in first served. Better download that app quick smart then right? Wrong! While the iOS version for the iPhone and iPad was released quick smart the Android app didn’t see the light of day until October 28th. A staggering 1 month and 11 days after the game was released. So much for that number plate…

Case in point number two. Recently in New Zealand the major satellite TV provider Sky announced that it’s customers can now watch Live and OnDemand TV on their phones and tablets. Heck yeah, I can finally watch the cricket on my commute every afternoon. Can you see where this is going? It’s currently only available on iOS and they have said for Android users to keep their eyes out for an Android version on ‘selected devices’ sometime in the New Year (so… only a month or so late).

As a person who uses Android (Tablet + Phone) this frustrates me to no end! Not only me but a lot of people. A simple google search shows the frustration of the hundreds of GTA users and looking on the SkyTV facebook page shows 11 out of the 30 comments (on the announcement of Sky GO) complaining about the lack of an Android App!

It also doesn’t make viable sense to the company. According to recent stats (Q3 2013) Android made up a staggering 81% of devices shipped. Compared to the 12.9% of iOS. That’s 4 out of every 5 devices! I will admit here however that Apple is still making the most money. In fact in the same time frame – (Q3 2013) – Apple made more money than all of it’s competitors combined by taking in 56% of the profits. So yes, if the company was to be releasing a paid version of the app, then it might make more sense to go for an Apple release first. But they’re not paid apps. They’re free!!

So if this post was to fall into the lap of the decision maker of X company, then please would you consider either:

a) Creating and releasing the Android app first in order to make the most of the many many users.
b) How about working on both and releasing them at the same time!

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment!

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There has been some good discussions on this topic (mainly over at /r/Android) and I think the two main points that have come up are:

  1. Because there are so many Android devices running so many different versions of the OS + custom ROMs means that development time and testing is far more time consuming and resource intensive.
  2. Even with 81% of devices shipped Android doesn’t touch iOS in terms of revenue generated.

These points are both valid and explain why those companies that release a lot of revenue gathering apps (ie that is their business model) choose to go for iOS first.

However, I think the point I’m trying to get across is a lot of companies are only ever going to release a single app, with the intention of putting it on both operating systems, and with a price tag of $0. With that in mind does it still make sense to focus primarily on iOS over Android?

PS. after writing this yesterday I got an email from Fly Buys (New Zealand’s largest loyalty program) with the good news that they now have an app… for iPhone.

Right now, the Fly Buys app only works on iPhones. But for you Android users, keep an eye out for the release of our Android version. Click here to tell us your email address so we can let you know when