When deciding to make an app one of the first things questions you’ll probably ask yourself is how to pick the right platform. Currently we have 3 and a half major mobile platforms, half because of the current separation between Windows Phone and Windows 8.
- First is Android with its massive market share, but huge platform fragmentation.
- Second iOS from Apple with very strict policies and long publishing time.
- Third is Windows Phone and Windows 8 with smallest market share but without any major fragmentation.
Picking the correct platform for you can be tricky, but mostly it depends on your budget. If you have enough money, developing an app cross platform for all 3 is not a problem. If your budget is tight, picking right platform to start with can be painful and if you pick wrong, it will have costly consequence.
How to decide
First what you need to understand is your target audience and have business plan with clear idea of where from should money come. Let’s be honest, you are not going to invest money into it if you don’t expect any return. When you thinking about how to create revenue from an app, there are 3 main ways:
- Direct sales – one time purchase (can be in-app purchase for instance)
- Subscription – if you are going to provide some sort of service
Picking right one goes side by side with customer habits on different platforms. For instance, most customers on the Android platform are not thought to pay for apps. The operating system is free, the app store is full with free apps and most importantly, a huge device market share is from budget devices (based on screen resolution and size statistic roughly 60% are cheap phones, this also can vary from country to country).
This has a huge impact when you are picking platform to start with. If you want to promote subscription or to have direct sales, I would recommend starting with iOS or Windows, but Windows 8 and phone still have a small market share so therefore if you are not targeting a gap in the app store or very specific customers, or you have very strong reason why to start with it, I’d pick iOS over Windows (I am huge fan of Windows 8 and Windows Phone but it is inconvenient truth, it will change in future. The app store on this platform still has gaps to fill so if you find one I advise to grab the chance). Users on both platforms are already accustomed with payment for system, apps and services and for devices as well, therefore the chances that they’ll pay for your app is a lot higher. If you want to make money from advertisement, go for Android without any hesitation, followed by iOS or Windows.
Proving the market
To be complete, there is one another aspect you should consider when picking platform. When you are not completely certain about your app idea, you should do market testing. Create an app that is free to use and has core functionality, it should be as basic as it can get, made as cheap as possible and distributed to customers. For this purpose, Android is great platform to start due to huge market share and your app will be available within 8 hours after publishing. Second best is Windows 8 and Windows phone, where publishing process takes 5 – 10 days. iOS I wouldn’t recommend for this at all, because publishing is pain due to complicated policies, electronic certificates and signatures – it also takes 3 or more weeks to get through even if your app is perfect. If some bugs are found, you are looking at maybe two months from finalizing app to general availability.
So as you see, when you are picking platform to start with, you should give it some thoughts and chose correctly. All my clients get this kind of advice up front, so they don’t waste money or something that does not make sense. If you do not have any advisor, spend some time researching about your potential customers and give it as much thoughts as you can, to avoid mistakes and loses.