Going cross platform on mobile, part one: How the market looks

I know there are a 101 articles written on the topic already, and I’ve been involved in more than enough conversations about it myself, however interest is rising to appreciable levels again here within the group, especially as our brands move more and more beyond their initial iOS based initiatives, so the time felt right to actually put some words down on the topic myself.

The pure native app approach is great if you’re targeting one platform (or if your budget allows you to go native ad infinititum), but depending on what your objectives are and what type of product it is that you are developing, the numbers don’t always stack up so well when you want to expand your audience reach beyond a single marketplace running on a single OS.  In most cases you’re going to want to look at how you reach more people, on more platforms, whilst doing it efficiently in terms of effort and cost, whilst at the same time also ensuring quality doesn’t drop to a level that’s detrimental.  So, you need to look into what the options are and what each of these options mean, in order to make the right decision for the app you have in mind.

More on that in part two.  Firstly, it’s worth noting the state of the market and confirming that there is in fact a good reason for your app to go cross platform in the first place.  I can’t tell you if your app suits a single platform release or not, but here’s the current trends and state of the mobile market…

Worldwide statistics from IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker (November 12, 2013):

OS 3Q 2013 Market Share 3Q 2012 Market Share
Android 81% 74.9%
iOS 12.9% 14.4%
Windows Phone 3.6% 2%
BlackBerry 1.7% 4.1%

In terms of year on year trends global figures are pretty much in line with those tracked for the UK by Kantar Worldpanel last year (for July to Sept 2013, published November 4, 2013) other than the more pronounced uptake in Windows:

  • Android – 58.4% share compared to 58.6% for the same period 2012
  • iOS – 27% share of the market, compared to 28%
  • Win. Phone -11.4% of UK market, compared to 4.2%
  • Blackberry OS share dropped from 8.5% to 3.1%

While iOS has a higher market share in the UK compared to the global figures, the Android figures are still high enough to highlight the value of cross platform deployment when wanting to reach a wider consumer base.

Keep an eye on Windows going forward too.  Although it only accounts for 1/10th of the UK market, in terms of trends it has risen around 300% in the past year.  A comparably small user base, but the right cross platform development approach will allow you to prepare for future market growth without committing dedicated work effort in order to do so.

Finally, taking a look at the most popular handsets tracked by uswitch shows us that Apple and Android handsets make up the top 10, with iPhone and Samsung consistently the strongest brands from 2013 through to 2014:

UKs most popular mobiles, Sept 2013 (uswitch mobile tracker)

  1. iPhone 5
  2. iPhone 4S
  3. Galaxy S4
  4. iPhone 4
  5. Galaxy S3
  6. HTC One
  7. Galaxy S4 Mini
  8. Galaxy Ace
  9. Xperia Z
  10. Galaxy S4 Mini

UKs most popular mobiles, Jan 2014 (uswitch mobile tracker)

  1. iPhone 5s
  2. Galaxy S4
  3. iPhone 5c
  4. Galaxy S3
  5. Galaxy Note 3
  6. iPhone 4S
  7. HTC One
  8. Sony Xperia Z1
  9. Galaxy S4 Mini
  10. Google Nexus 5

So yes, if you’re looking to expand your reach it stands to reason that you want to look beyond iOS to at least Android.  Previously if you were more interested in direct profits from your apps rather than extending user base and brand awareness then you might as well stick to iOS, and so far latest figures suggest this is still the case.  However I think we can expect this to change at some point, so even if now isn’t the time sooner or later you’re going to have to spread your wings and move to new skies.  If you’re looking to extend reach and brand awareness then it’s a no brainer – you want to put you’re app into as many hands as possible.  Going cross platform is the way to do it, and leveraging technologies that are easily reusable is the most efficient way to do it.

In part two we’ll cover the differences between native, mobile web and hybrid apps, and cover the principles to keep in mind when using web technologies rather than native code to develop apps.

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2 thoughts on “Going cross platform on mobile, part one: How the market looks

  1. Pingback: Going cross platform on mobile | New Technology Development Team Blog

  2. Pingback: What does 2015 hold in store for mobile? | rickynealeuk

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