Symbian, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone... There are many platforms vying for developers’ attention. The App Store for Apple is the primary market right now, and Android Market, and its various carrier partners, is fast becoming a fierce contender. Blackberry, Windows and others should not be discounted out of hand though: many carriers are looking around for interesting propositions, and working hard to grow their market share. As Iain Dodsworth of Tweetdeck says: “All the app stores are searching for really good applications to put out for their user base – so they can market their store as the place to go to get cool apps.”
Developers should consider their options carefully. Choosing to go Apple or Android is a big commitment: “The App Store is certainly the place to be at the moment but Android is showing signs of promise,” Tristan Celder of Zolmo advises. “At the moment, you have to build different apps for different platforms and this takes resources, so choose your platform or platforms wisely.”
Many companies choose to launch their app across multiple platforms. Like anything, there are pros and cons to this. “There are platforms such as Flash,” Tristan explains, ”which promise to operate on multiple platforms. But as Apple has rightly pointed out these come at the cost of features and performance.” Often companies publish on a number of platforms because this approach offers more earning power, however. So it could balance out. Touchnote, for instance, is now live on four different platforms. “We’ll be on six or seven in the coming few months,” says Raam Thakrar, CEO. “For us, it’s been a significant development and a big cost.”
Each system is so different that each platform requires a native build. “The thing is,” Raam explains, “a lot of the stuff used for one platform won’t be useful for other platforms.” So for instance, what you develop for the iPhone: technically, it’s no help to what you might do for Android. It may be useful in terms of features, but not in terms of the real developers spending time working on it.
In terms of revenue, and pricing, the platform generally takes a percentage: Apple and Android take thirty percent of sales revenue and publishers take the rest. “In many cases the publisher and developer of an app are one and the same, such is the case with 20 Minute Meals and Zolmo,” Tristan tells us. “The reward can be good for publishers, but it comes with its risks - so make sure you do your market research.”
Whichever platform you go for, you want to make sure that the first app you do is spot on. “Don’t submit it with any errors in it,” says David Carter of The App Factory, “That’s the sort of thing the platforms pick up on. They go into amazing detail and will find it if there’s anything wrong with the app.”