This is a pretty amazing chart that shows how fast things move in the mobile world. In 7 short years. The OS map of the mobile world in 200 is incredibly different from that of 2016 (and much less diverse).
So I think this is a little disingenuous, given that Android has so many forks and variations that it’s closer to a category of Operating Systems, while iOS is much closer to a single unified operating system.
To that point, you can make “an iOS app” that is compatible with 93-ish% of iOS devices fairly simply, while making an app that is compatible with a similar percentage of devices within the collective Android ecosystem requires 10X - 20X as much time, effort, testing and resources.
Android, as large as it is, remains a gigantic pain in the ass to develop for because of this. What works on one device crashes on another. Which is why you still see big apps still launching on iOS first, despite it being under 15% of the global handset market share. Sometimes the economics of developing for Android just don’t make it worth the additional cost.
Instead of rambling at Barrett on Twitter, lemme explore this a bit:
The consolidation of the mobile OS environment has many implications, and depending on what eyes you have on it it could be seen as great, awful, or just something to be aware of.
There’s an implication that with fewer operating systems certain things are easier – standardization or development for example – but since iOS and Android have had completely different approaches to how they implement updates and how they relate to the hardware their running on, that’s completely untrue. What is true is that you don’t have to try to design for iOS, a billion versions of Android that like to contradict each other, and a few other environments with a martyr complex – it’s down to just iOS and Android.
But building and marketing for each of those environments is very different, and increasingly if you don’t have a plan for doing both simultaneously you’ll piss off a good chunk of your potential userbase. Even if building and marketing for one of those is significantly more satisfying, you have to at least think about the other.
Now that Android and its laundry list of flavors is so prevalent, is Google going to try to make updating from version to version any easier? Will it be possible for them to take that fractured market share and general worldwide acceptance of a somewhat annoying product and move up the chain into hardware successfully? And, really, can there ever be a product with such wide adoption that doesn’t break from version to version? I don’t even know if it’s fair for me to have as much resentment as I do against Google. Probably not.
If we ultimately end up in another two-system environment, what will that mean for pricing, competition, innovation, etc. etc. – we’ve seen this game play out before. We’re really just waiting for what’s next at this point, right?
And it’s not watches.