With the latest news from AdMob about the rise of web traffic generated by Android phones, people are starting to talk about the shift so many are eagerly expecting, dwarfing Apple’s dominance.
However, I still believe there is third dimension that is highly disregarded in all of this clutter of metrics and stats: the money.
It’s About Monetization
As Jeff Smith of Smule puts it in most simple words: “Show me the money.” Admittedly, he was referring to the even less competitive Ovi Store from Nokia. However, he was touching probably the most important piece of the puzzle: none of the other stores have generated as much revenue from all of these apps as Apple did.
Make It Easy For Users
For all that Apple does wrong, it has undoubtedly brought the mobile internet to the masses with its iPhone. It is easy to use, has a built-in system that makes it easy to use your credit card to make purchases on iTunes and the App Store. Google is regarded as liberating this market but favors its Checkout. As I wrote earlier, Google’s interest is to bring people to the internet. I think it would be great to see them enabling people to use alternatives people are already used to (e.g. PayPal, etc.).
Create A Competitive Space
Apple’s App Store uses metrics of the last 4 days to calculate its top downloaded, top purchased lists. Talking to startups, I learned that once your app is appearing on any of these lists, your downloads increase dramatically due to the increased visibility.
Google on the other hand is ranking apps by their total downloads to date. This is a pretty static approach which makes it very hard for newcomers to gain traction and use this tool to gain visibility. Hence, what Google is missing is a space that stirs downloads of newly created apps and makes it hard for old apps to remain in top spots for too long.
Ease The Pain For Developers
The beauty of Apple’s simplistic iPhone platform is its equality. There is only one screen resolution for both the iPhone and the iPod Touch. With the emergence of the iPad we have finally seen a higher resolution and rumor has it that with the upcoming fourth generation iPhone we will see another higher resolution device.
But this is nothing to the woes developers have to go through when they want to get their app running on most of the Android phones available out there. I have been hearing about rendering problems on different devices from many startups developing for this platform. And with Motorola and HTC customizing Android more and more, I am doubting that this will ameliorate in the forseeable future.
To some extent this seems all too familiar to me with what Windows did with its mobile platform over the last couple of years.
I admit that I can be wrong about my predictions here. And I wish that competition would arise as this usually creates a better outcome for all of us users and developers. But as network effects may start to kick in and apps enjoying some great popularity, any stats about web usage are second to where the real money remains and hence apps on Apple’s platform will remain the only way to go for developers with ambitions to cash in on their apps.