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