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Is Mitt Romney an iPhone user? Why iOS developers write off 63% of the population.

October 16, 2012

Can someone tell me why so many iPhone developers are so arrogant as to write off the entire Android population when developing apps?

Now there’s a bit of antagonism in saying that as when I express my distaste with this kind of attitude the responses I often get from developers are the usual suspects;

–          It’s easier for us as developers to design things for Apple devices.

–          Apple is prettier (UX)

If you’re wondering why things are easier for the developers –  one of the main objections I normally hear about is the screen size issue – just like when developing software or hardware  for a windows based PC instead of a Mac, applications for Android devices must be designed, written and tested to suit a wide and ever changing range of devices from multiple manufacturers, with multiple screen sizes, different hardware and so on.  More often than not, the typical iPhone developer that I speak to – and I’m happy to hear alternate views – simply feels that it’s just not worth the effort to design and code in such a way as to suit the Android population. Why bother?

By the way, while I’m focused on Android v iOS here, I haven’t even referenced the Nokia, Windows and Blackberry platforms, of which I’ll confess I have very little knowledge but rest assured I haven’t written them off – they make up about 25% of the smartphone market here in Australia according to figures from July this year.

Hearing some similar comments the other day from a couple of developers – whom I utterly respect for their technical skills and knowledge  – actually made me think of the US presidential election.

Remember those comments by Mitt Romney, where he got caught on tape writing off 47% of the American population because they felt they were entitled to have their government provide them with basic human rights (food, housing, healthcare)? It was and still is an incredibly scary insight into the way wealthy America thinks, but irrespective – the man who would seek to become the most powerful person on the planet – jut wrote off everyone who doesn’t conform to his way of thinking (I won’t go into the social and political aspects of it here, although I hope Romney realises that up to 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 per day).

Anyway, back on point – we have iOS developers writing off anyone who doesn’t use an iPhone because it’s just too hard for them to do, but since July this year, did you know that we sell more Android devices in Australia? In fact, iPhones – as wildly popular as they are with consumers, and I’ll admit they’re an amazing device – only makes up 37% of the smartphone population in the country, according to some researchers (the numbers may vary from one research piece to another so I won’t get too hung up on the specifics).

So here we have a massive growth industry with amazing potential, where the purists simply refuse to develop software that will reach more people – because it’s too hard? I firmly believe that if ‘too hard’ actually means ‘not commercially viable’, then there’s a brilliant business opportunity for someone to conquer. From that research, here are the figures per the table below: iPhones make up 37% of the Australian smartphone population, and non-iPhones account for the other 63% (Android 38%, Nokia / Windows etc 25%).

Now with that in mind, can someone explain to me why we just don’t bother trying to reach out to the  63% when developing apps for consumers?

By the numbers – endorsing that decision makes it a bigger deal than Mitt Romney and his now infamous and hopefully election losing comment.

The future of personal media application development absolutely needs to include multi-device accessibility as Apple won’t always have the lion’s share of consumer attention – in fact, their recent release of the iPhone 5 was the first indicator of consumer dissent – loyal customers looking for a reason to critique the latest product releases, and marketers looking for ambush opportunities to snatch customers away from Apple. In fact, even one of Apple’s original founders called the company ‘arrogant’ for ignoring their own customers.

Soon enough, major government services will look to the world of mobile applications for provision of essential services and communication, and the issue of accessibility will come to the fore for what I believe will be the whole mobile marketing industry. When that day comes, the developers who are able to build and deploy applications that run across multiple platforms, screens sizes and with minimal use of bandwidth will be the victors.

And for the record – I do have an Android phone but my iPad rarely ever leaves my side. I used a Macbook for the last two years – which was great – and recently switched back to a Windows machine.

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