There are more and more mobile device users every day, with annual sales of smartphones in the world reaching 1.56 billion units. At the same time, the cost of smartphones is decreasing, making them affordable for most people. The global price is now around $215.
One of the reasons for the decline in the price of phones is the fierce competition in the smartphone market. Previously, the market leaders were Samsung and Apple, but Chinese brands were able to create a decent alternative, and their smartphones are in high demand worldwide. Along with these changes, there are noticeable changes in the number of users of iOS and Android.
Since Android and iOS account for almost the entire global mobile market, when creating a mobile app, it is better to develop it for both operating systems at once. However, if there is a limited budget and time for development, you will have to choose only one OS. And here it is necessary to clearly understand for whom you are creating the application. It is important to have the fullest possible picture of your target audience. What kind of apps do “your” people prefer? What percentage of users can pay for the app and make in-app purchases? The answers to these questions will vary depending on which mobile OS your customers prefer.
Statistics on iOS and Android development around the world
Statistics are a source of valuable information on which to base decisions about product monetization and localization strategies. For example, according to various studies, iOS users have a higher income than the average Android user. Consequently, an iOS mobile app can be more profitable if your monetization plan is related to in-app purchases. If, on the other hand, you intend to monetize the app through ad placement, it is better to choose Android.
Because of its wide price range and relatively low initial cost, Android is very popular in low-income regions and developing countries. Android has a significant competitive advantage over Apple in these countries (e.g. Asia and Africa).
Another important factor is the capabilities of the development team you want to use. According to the Global Developer Report, most professionals in 2020 worked on creating apps for both platforms. However, this does not mean that the Apple App Store and Google Play have roughly the same number of products. The competition in the Apple store is much higher, with almost 4.4 million apps available there, compared to 2.95 million on Google Play.
Comparison of Android and iOS apps by country
Eastern Europe, Africa, South Asia and South America have the most apps on Android. While the rest of the world mostly uses Android devices, North Americans and Oceanians prefer iOS.
Another important indicator is the breakdown of market share by the average age of consumers. Apple devices are chosen by 70% of users aged 18 to 24, while the distribution of operating systems among people aged 55-65 is almost the same: 49% prefer Android, 47% use iOS, and 4% use neither.
In addition to the number of users and the popularity of the operating system in a particular country, before developing an application, it is useful to know what financial options each system provides. According to Sensor Tower research, Apple’s App Store brought in $19 billion in the third quarter of 2020, a 31% increase over the third quarter of 2019. Google Play Store is trying to keep up with its competitor – its revenue in the third quarter of 2020 was $10.3 billion, a 33.8% increase over the previous quarter.
Fragmentation of OS versions can cause some inconvenience. Android is way ahead of Apple here. There are about 2.5 billion Android devices from more than a dozen different brands, with each brand having hundreds of models that vary in size and OS version. The uptake of older versions of Android by new ones is slowing.
At the same time, most Apple users are sure to update their devices to the latest version of iOS: iOS 14 is installed on 70% of Apple smartphones. Over the last year, the number of active iOS devices exceeded 1.5 billion.
The benefits of each platform
When it comes to which platform is better – Android or iOS – it is impossible to give a definite answer. Each has its pros and cons. Most mobile app developers believe that the choice of platform depends on the audience the app is designed for.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of developing apps for each of the operating systems.
Flexibility. The open-source environment allows you to customize apps without any restrictions.
Users all over the world. The Android audience is present in all countries of the world and has a significant market share. The number of users in developing regions such as Africa, Asia and South America is growing.
Tech-savvy users. In terms of the number of tech-savvy users and niche applications, Android is the clear winner.
Design guidelines from Google. Thanks to the corporation’s guidelines, developers can create apps with an elegant user interface.
Short approval times in the store. Typically, it takes no more than two days for an app to be approved on Google Play.
More opportunities for monetization. When releasing an iOS app, developers usually focus on first-world countries: North America, Western Europe, Oceania, and high-income users. This means that you will have more opportunities to monetize the product.
Financially lucrative market. According to statistics, iOS users spend almost three times as much money as Android users, so you’ll have a better chance of successfully launching an e-commerce app on iOS.
Easier development process. Since iOS doesn’t have as much fragmentation as Android, you can develop an app with less effort, including testing (no need to test the app for a huge number of OS versions and phone sizes).
High level of security. iOS provides a comprehensive system of user data protection for developers and business owners.
Analyzing the situation in the mobile market, it is impossible to give a definite answer to the question of which OS is better for app development. When planning an application you need to have a good idea of what features each platform has, understand who your target audience is, what devices these people use. Android offers flexibility and a large audience, which grows quite quickly, while iOS is characterized by a high speed of application development and a good return on investment.