When the iPhone was released about six years ago, it changed the mobile phone industry. It changed what consumers want from their phones. Instead of just making calls and sending texts, customers had a wealth of apps available that expanded the capabilities of their phone by orders of magnitude.
Of course, competitors rushed to copy, and the Android operating system from Google has surpassed Apple’s iOS in terms of activated devices. However, there are still many people who believe that the app offerings on the iTunes marketplace are superior in terms of quality, even though Google Play is catching up on quantity. Apple now has 900,000 apps available, while Google is sitting at about 750,000 and rising.
Android vs. iOS – let’s look at the numbers
When you look at the revenue picture, however, a different story emerges. A whopping 76% of all app revenue goes to Apple. That leaves just 24% for Google to share with other operating systems. One reason that many top app developers prefer working with iOS is that consumers in the App Store seem more willing to pay for a great game.
Hardware is another consideration. Apple delivers consistent, high-quality mobile devices. The operating system is easy for users to update. The result is that developers know what type of experience the consumers will have. It is easy for designers to create a product, and know that the end user’s experience will be what was intended.
On the other hand, Android runs on a wide variety of hardware devices, operating systems which may be modified by some companies, and many different OS versions. It is difficult to ensure that all of these users will have the same gaming experience. Often, a game will be slow or have bugs on some platforms when it is released, necessitating rounds of fixes. Other times, products will launch for certain supported devices only, which leaves other Android owners unhappy
Many game designers like the more consistent hardware and OS environment on Apple. One developer says that this lets him spend his time working to create a perfect user experience, rather than spending time trying to fix problems on a lot of slightly different platforms.
Other developers have a different point of view. Chris Murphy, game developer and publisher, said that the standardized iOS hardware is nice, but the technology is pretty rigid. He feels that powerful Android devices can be a boon for a developer, but the problem is that your special effects may look terrific on one device, yet run too slowly on another.
Market response, game quality and game piracy
Another issue for consumers is the different approach to the marketplace. Apple charges an entry fee for developers to get their products into the app store. Google does not. This means that the Google Play store is full of low quality offerings, some of which are little more than adware.
Android is also easier for software pirates, since users can easily side load pirated versions of a game to their devices. One developer complained that after spending a year and a half creating a game, and only charging $0.99 for it, he sold just 200 copies on Android the first day, while 35,000 pirated copies were downloaded the same day. It’s easy to see why that is distressing to developers.
On the Apple side, users cannot load a pirated app unless they jailbreak their device. Since that voids the warranty, many people are not willing to do that. They would rather pay the small price for a legitimate copy of a game.
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