Now that Android has become the leading mobile platform in the US and other key markets around the world, developers are taking notice and some no longer prefer releasing their apps on iOS first, followed by Android. For some, it’s a question of Android’s installed user base, the pace of the platform’s growth and the fact that ad-supported free model on Android matches the App Store’s 99-cent economy. For others like WhitePages, the decision comes down to cutting out a middleman in order not to be forced to spend time, resources and money on a lengthy approval process.
According to Ina Fried over at the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D blog, WhitePages’ new Localicious app will be released on Android first. Apple’s approval process “is just too difficult to time a launch around”, Fried writes, noting the iPhone maker’s stringent approval process had delayed the launch of a reverse phone lookup app from WhitePages for two months, a far cry from the Apple-advertised “95 percent of the apps are approved in two-weeks time”. WhitePages’ op-chief Kevin Nakao tells the blog:
I think we are going to see a lot of people start to ship Android first. You cant be held hostage. Marketing an application becomes increasingly important given the number of apps that are being published. Since apps can still get tied up in the iOS approval process, it makes this marketing planning almost impossible.
UPDATE [July 13, 2011, 10:20am Eastern Time]: Google itself is now advising developers to target Android first. According to MacWorld UK, Google Ventures partner Rich Miner is telling app developers funded by the Google-backed project that they focus on Android and then roll out apps on iOS later.
Exclusivity and having apps first matters in the competitive mobile landscape of today. Increasingly, this is also a sign of confidence in a platform and to this respect Apple’s iOS platform has long enjoyed the preferential treatment from developers. If enough developers decided to release their apps on Android first, Apple might have a huge PR blunder and mind share nightmare on its hands. The funny thing is, Google still to date marketing some new products on Apple’s platform first. A good example: Their upcoming photo sharing service dubbed Photovine currently features a teaser page depicting a native app on an iPhone 4 rather than an Android device.