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December 8, 2011

Standing Up For Android

by shiftyjelly

It seems these days you don’t have to go far to find people that want to belittle Android, often for reasons they feel are perfectly objective and valid. I’d call out Marco Arment and John Gruber as two of the biggest offenders, but the problem runs far deeper than that. Gruber plays with Android phones and always seems curious, but he’s someone who loves iOS, and just doesn’t get why people choose Android. As for Marco, how many Android apps has he made? 0 as far as we’re aware. He thinks it’s pointless, and would be a waste of his time. Would it? As someone who develops for both platforms, we’d like to delve a bit deeper here. This is for all the Marcos &¬†Grubers¬†of the world. Before we continue though, can we just note that I haven’t called Gruber or Marco a ‘fanboi’. I would love it if we could just erase that word from our vocabulary in 2012. To be clear: calling someone a ‘fanboi’ is not a valid argument, it’s just plain idiotic.

First some background. We’ve been in the iOS app store since August of 2008, which for those that are counting is only a month or so after it first launched. We’ve been on Android now for about a year. We make serious apps like Pocket Casts and Pocket Weather AU, things that take a lot of development effort and involve serious server back-ends. We’ve made enough money since then to support 2 full time staff, and 2 part time designers. Yes we’re the guys who had the run in with Amazon, the email from Steve Jobs, and we’re not millionaires.

So first, let’s cover the Android/iOS myths that absolutely infuriate us:
Myth 1: Android users only buy Android because they are cheap, and they have no idea what OS it’s running
Fact: We talk regularly to all our Android users, and the #1 reason they buy Android is because they prefer it. It’s different for every phone and every person but there’s normally a hardware or software reason they choose Android over iOS. In every case they were aware of the iPhone, a lot even owned an iPhone in the past.

Myth 2: iPhone users only buy iPhones because they have an Apple logo on them
Fact: It should be as obvious as myth 1, but no matter how fanatical some Apple lovers might appear, they choose the device because they like it, because it suits the way they want to use the phone and integrates into their lives.

Myth 3: You can’t make money in the Google Market selling Paid Apps
Fact: As a developer who earnt more in the Android store this month than on the iOS store, with a paid app (no ads), we’re fairly certain we can call this one busted. Here’s a graph for you visual types:

Sales: Android (green) vs iOS (blue)

Pocket Casts Sales: Android (green) vs iOS (blue)

Two points to make here: firstly yes, you can make real money on Android. Secondly Pocket Casts on iOS has been quite a success, yet the Android version has made it look like a dismal failure. 95% of all Pocket Casts revenue in November was made on Android, not iOS.

Myth 4: Android users don’t care about quality, smoothness or well designed apps
Fact: If you haven’t realised by now, it should be becoming clear, you can’t stereotype the users of a platform into a neat box. We’ve found the opposite though, Android users love quality and well designed apps as much as their iOS counterparts. There are people that prefer Android, just as there are people that prefer iOS. You get a free head slap if you were thinking that’s just because they hate Apple. You don’t have to hate something to love something else.

Myth 5: Apple/Google need to lose so that Google/Apple can win
Fact: It’s infuriating (have we over-used that word yet?) to see people debate who is winning in the mobile space, Apple or Google. They do it by market share, they do it by profit numbers. Here’s a radical thought: they are both winning! Every month sees their install base grow, at a very rapid rate. Why can’t they both win? The mobile space is huge, and there’s no logical reason you can’t have both Apple and Google win, without them annihilating one another…so can we just stop with this already?

So here’s what it comes down to as a developer: your customers are choosing both Android and iOS. If you have the resources, you should be developing for both. You can choose not to of course, but that’s your loss. It’s almost 2012 let’s stop pretending that Android users are all pirates with leprosy.

Finally, we’d like to publicly challenge Marco Arment to bring Instapaper to Android and drop the negative attitude. We’ll bet you one large cup of our finest Australian Coffee that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how great the Google Market is. In many ways it’s a better place to be than iOS, since so many developers are ignoring it, and yet there is a massive install base waiting to give you their money.

Update: Marco responds here

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