Mobile phone applications for the Apple iPhone and Google’s Android operating system are both growing at phenomenal rates. In this article we compare Apple’s App Store and Android Market to highlight the pros and cons of developing apps for them.
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App Store versus Android Market
If you are thinking of developing an application for mobile phones there are several important considerations. One of the key decisions to make is which platform or platforms you will target. Today we compare Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. There are advantages and disadvantages to both so let’s take a closer look.
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Both Apple and Google offer a free SDK (software development kit). You can download this software and start making your application immediately with no cost. However you will need certain things before you can get stuck in. Below we’ll take a closer look at Android vs iPhone.
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In order to run the iPhone SDK and the iPhone Simulator for testing you will need a Mac running Leopard Mac OS X. For the bedroom developer that doesn't currently own a Mac, this represents a major investment, and your Android Market or Apple App Store decision may have just been reached. To get full access to their resources and in order to sell your app you will need to sign up as a developer. In fact if you want to test your app on an actual iPhone you’ll need to be part of the developer program. The basic cost is $99 and you’ll need to sign a contract with Apple.
Once your app is ready you’ll need to submit and wait for Apple approval before it will become available in the App Store. As long as you’ve done plenty of testing this shouldn’t take longer than a week or so. You can release updates as needed if you discover bugs after release. If you release your app for free then there are no further costs. If you want to charge for your app then Apple will take a 30% cut to cover their costs and you’ll get the remaining 70%.
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You can develop for Android on a PC and the free Android SDK includes an emulator so you can test the application. To get full access to their resources and sell your app through Android Market you need to sign an agreement but you only need to pay a $25 registration fee. There is also the Android Dev Phone which is specifically for developers to test on and costs $399 although you can test on any Android phone provided it supports the version of Android you are working with.
When your app is ready, provided it meets the guideline criteria, you can publish it on Android Market. You can also release updates as needed. If your app is free then there is no cost. If you want to charge for your app then the standard split of 70% to you applies but in this case the other 30% goes to wireless carriers.
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For the iPhone you’ll need to use ObjectiveC. Android, on the other hand, is a Java based environment. Whether there is an advantage or disadvantage to either depends entirely on your experience.
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Selling your App
Perhaps the deciding factor in the App Store versus Android Market quandary is the level of competition. It has been widely publicised that the iPhone now has almost 150,000 apps available, whereas there are somewhere over 20,000 available for Android. With both the App Store and Android Market the popular apps are very well publicised and appear in top lists prominently but there are plenty of apps that fall quickly into obscurity. It stands to reason that your app will be more likely to stand out on Android simply because there is less competition. However for either platform you should consider some promotion online, getting your app reviewed and if it is appropriate, offer a free demo.