VodkaPundit

Developers Love iOS, Question Android

I’ve said for a about a year now that “Google makes Android, but Apple makes money.” And even as Android continues to gobble up marketshare, that remains true — even for app developers. For every dollar developers make selling to iOS users, they make a paltry 24¢ from Android.

That might explain this chart, showing that iOS remains the go-to market — up, Apple v. Google from last year. Way up.

I think this comes back to a story from last month. iOS users constitute over 61% of all mobile web traffic, despite not being even a plurality of smartphone users.

iOS users browse the web, by nearly two-to-one. iOS users spend money on apps, by more than four-to-one.

Why?

My gut tells me this: The majority — maybe even the vast majority — of Android users didn’t really want a smartphone. They wanted a nice touchscreen phone, and they didn’t want to pay a lot of money for one. Nothing wrong with that. Different customers have different needs and desires. But it does make a difference in the several-and-fractured Android app marketplaces. The quality isn’t always (or even often?) there:

But the thing that really damned Android for me in the long run was this general feeling that I had moved into a technological ghetto. The apps in the Android market were almost uniformly cheap and low-quality. Visually the OS seems like a patchwork of scavenged design ideas—I call it the “dorm-room furniture aesthetic.”

Cost-conscience consumers who never had much interest in a smartphone-qua-smartphone aren’t going to give developers much reason to produce quality apps. And security concerns can’t help much, either. All phones carry privacy issues, every single one. If you expect a privacy law or some incoherent “right” to do anything more for you than you can, simply by closing the blinds and keeping your mouth shut, you’re going to be disappointed.

I think there’s a market — and a large one — waiting for something newish. Something far more than a feature phone, but with more built-in features than an iPhone. Because app stores aren’t for everybody, I think we’ve seen. Something smart, feature-riffic, and well-made, but still discountable at a profit.

I think that niche could be filled by Windows Phone 7 on Nokia. Pretty much everything a not-quite-smartphone user needs is built-in by Microsoft. The app store is curated, small, and features high-quality apps. The user interface is sharp and intuitive. On the marketing side, Nokia knows a thing or three about selling phones on the cheap, everywhere in the world.

Don’t get me wrong: Windows Phone 7 is a fully-fledged smartphone. But it’s also a better and safer “in-betweener” than Android.

Can they exploit this market? So far, the answer is no. But Microsoft is making some smart moves in terms of personnel and in marketing. Maybe they’ll get there.