Being an Android developer myself, I see that after almost two to three years of battling it out. Both Android and iOS are stable and settled in their marketing positions. The former takes away the market share for selling most units in every market while the latter taking away the share of the lucrative high end.
The mobile market has been an effective duopoly for nearly two years now. With Android and iOS both competing for attention from developers, it seems like the last 6 months were the turn-around period for Android. Android has leaped ahead of iOS in terms of the preference of developers building mobile applications.
Why was iOS preferred over Android?
Android faced structural and financial barriers due to a number of reasons. The main reason was the market share in US. In the US, iOS dominated the market for many years which had a strong impact on the developer mindshare.
All of my conversations over the past year with Android developers confirm a hard reality that building and releasing on Android costs 2-3x more than iOS. Most people are already aware that the same app developed on Android simply takes longer. The question here is Why does it take longer?
It is a combination of a variety of reasons: Just more code: applications in Android are written in Java which is a more verbose language than Objective-C or Swift, emulators are slower than iOS, less sophisticated tools, generally more cumbersome APIs, fewer exposed advanced features, enormous QA issues brought on by fragmentation, etc. The rule of thumb is that for every iOS developer you actually need two Android developers—or twice the development time.
One major problem Android faced was fragmentation and lack of exclusivity to one device leading to double the amount of work being done by developers . After a few years Android came up with something called multiple screen handling that has enabled developers to develop applications for the ‘n’ number of screen sizes available in the market.
What changed in 2016..
The reasons for the shift can be many. The change in technology and the ever growing market share of Android smartphones as compared to iOS. As per study by IDC, Android dominated the market with a market share of 87.6% this year. We entered 2016 with Android ahead of iOS: 40% developers prioritized Android versus 39% for iOS.
The kind of apps being built has also changed over the years. An open source operating system gives Android a cutting edge over the other operating systems. It is designed to be free and open which enables it to be used on a wide range of hardware and screen sizes. It can be seen as a challenge for developers as some of them may disagree with these changes.
“Given that app developers have increased to 12 million and more than half of them prefer to develop on Android”
Does this mean that Android has managed to win the war against iOS?
As we enter the 4th quarter of 2016, we see Android finishing first in the race to be the first choice for developers. The pace at which technology is advancing, we have taken a dip into one interesting trend in the mobile app developer world. There is more going on with IoT in the picture now.
The blast of IoT related announcements early this year is an indication that IoT is picking up pace. Time will tell who will take the top position but for now there are a number of IoT platforms that are booming.
The most important reason to bet on Android with IoT is its massive ecosystem. With its 80% market share Android is far ahead of the competition in the 2+ billion smartphones that are in the market today.