iOS First. Android Much, Much Later... Not really

The most common trap here is the early iOS app which gets some buzz. All of a sudden, the founders hear “When are you building for Android?” The natural, enthusiastic response to sincere requests of the Android chorus is to go ahead and build for Android and seek more downloads, more growth, more revenue. I have a different view though. The proper response is: “No. Buy an iPhone.”

I know that Semil is targeting early mobile companies here. And intuitively, go with one OS where the problems are easier and you can focus on the product seems the right thing to do. However, the product market fit that Semil is talking about is something everyone should consider.

By definition, product market fit requires you to give your app a best shot from two perspectives - the product and the market. Artificially limiting yourselves to one OS also seems just as intuitively wrong. It is important to not treat anything, yes, even what Semil says as gospel.

I am providing a few counterpoints to Semil's reasons to go Android first.

  1. Early-stage startup teams cannot afford to handle the hardware fragmentation that plagues Android.

The world typically points me to the compasses not working the same in every Android phone as an example of this. Yes, not everything works exactly the same. However, hardware features being exactly the same has never happened in computing.

In fact, the very tenet of Android is that hardware diversity is a requirement to target the right hardware for the right person. As a developer, you are mostly focused on the system and OS level APIs to target the variety of devices. If that weren't the case, Windows wouldn't have the apps that it needed to succeed.

For anyone bringing up OS fragmentation, I urge you to look at the numbers -

  • Ice Cream Sandwich+ - 90% of all monthly actives - 900MM+ devices
  • Jelly Bean+ - 70% of all monthly actives - 700MM+ devices
  • KitKat+ - 20% of all monthly actives - 200MM+ devices (~25% of all iOS devices) and fastest growing

So, targeting KitKat+ only devices is a strategy and something that can work very well for you.

  1. Study after study demonstrates iOS users are not only growing in key geographies, but are more valuable customers.

Le sigh.

I am not going to address this. Your goal is to reach people for whom your product/service is of value and they share a certain price for that value. But any generalization here seems moot. Product market fit also means trying different business models and the argument becomes moot when it comes to engaged users. That's purely a function of your product and service, not the amount of money a customer is willing to part with.

  1. iPhone 5c and future low cost models will likely steal share from Android relative to yesterday.

Yup! As much as cheaper Android phones or better Android phones are stealing market share from the iOS userbase.

I respect Semil and his advice is certainly well intended and founded. However, my advice, treat nothing as gospel. Do what's right for you.