It’s been said that in regards to the question of which mobile platform is the best to target for development, the answer is to develop for the mobile web. HTML5 has indeed moved to the forefront of mobile development alongside iOS and Android in terms of market share and developer adoption.
However, it still has yet a ways to go before displacing the top two performers and indeed may never bridge that distance, as comparing HTML5 to Android and iOS may be akin to an apples to oranges scenario.
So to effectively answer the question of which is the best platform to develop for, one must qualify their meaning of “best” as this definition can be stratified across different categories, namely: ecosystem health, revenue and breadth of monetization opportunities, and developer loyalty and user adoption, among others. Even within these categories, definitions can be sub-stratified; for instance, developer loyalty and user adoption can be further segmented by region and geographic location.
This qualification can indeed be a formidable task for a CTO, CIO or IT leader tasked with selecting which mobile platform to choose. The solution, however, is easier to attain once the relevant questions are asked: Who is my target audience, and where do they reside? Is the goal to attain largest market penetration or monetization opportunity? Does the particular platform’s ecosystem support my needs in terms of marketing, user reach, visibility and developer tools and documentation? It goes without saying that each mobile project and application is different, and answers to these questions vary accordingly per platform. Additionally, targeting per device (iPhone/iPad versus the staggering array of Android mobile phone and tablet vendors) may narrow the solution set even further.
Fortunately, decision makers at this juncture need only select out of the aforementioned triumvirate, as they are the clear winners as per the survey results in Developer Economics Q1 2014: State of the Developer Nation.
iOS is a clear winner if you are looking for monetization of your app. As per the survey, iOS apps have much higher median revenues between $500 and $1000 per app / month, in comparison to median revenues of Android developers ($100 – $200 per app / month).
And this trend is not going to change anytime soon as Android continues to grow in mid- and low-end handset segments.
Android takes the prize for user reach and developer adoption. The survey results say “Android continues to dominate Developer Mindshare with 71% of developers that target mobile platforms, developing for Android.”
And HTML5 in terms of hybridization capability and web content. The appeal of HTML5 as a priority platform for app development is restricted to those use cases where it excels: cross-screen and cross-platform deployment. HTML5 developers target 2.8 screens on average, more than Android or iOS.
It’s worth noting that though HTML5 has been touted and hyped as the cross-platform savior, such merits are misguided. HTML5 is in essence a technology stack, and has not (and ostensibly, will not) compete with iOS and Android as a complete app ecosystem. Its strengths are inherently web-content related, relegated to the context of Mobile Web and Web-app/hybrid-app development. And even then, some of its strengths fall short of expectations. “The promise of HTML5 is you write once, run everywhere and this is not happening because of the divergence of browser features,” says Michael King, director of enterprise strategy for mobile tools vendor Appcelerator.
Developer Economics Q1 2014: State of the Developer Nation also highlights the Android/iOS duopoly it is clear that in terms of native application development, these are the two platforms to target. At Motifworks, we believe no one size fits all when it comes to the choice of a mobile development platform. It depends on many factors like business needs, app requirements, development timeline, and developer skills. Using our innovative thinking and creative capabilities as well as our Agile design and development process, we’ve created market-changing apps like SafeMonk, Ola Mundo and Audingo.
Based on our mobile development experience, we believe the bigger challenge for businesses looking to extend their applications to mobile apps (irrespective of mobile app platform) is due to lack of an API-based architecture. The traditional web development approach limits the easy access to data outside the applications, as well as is not easy to performance and scale quickly. We will talk about this in one of our next posts.
Image Credit: Telerik