On Developer Confidence in iOS rustyshelf.org

Russell Ivanovic wrote an intriguing post titled “2015: The Year of Android” (via Michael Tsai). With a title like that, I had to check it out:

In other words in 2013 Google payed out $2 billion to developers on Google Play. In 2014, $5 billion. This is a growth rate of 2.5x since last year. The lazy way to analyse this would be to point out that Apple announced that they’d paid out $15 billion to developers in December of 2013. 15 = 5 x 3, case closed. We could argue all day about growth rates, profitability and which platform is ‘winning’ right now. The real thing I pay attention to as a developer is this: can you be profitable on Android? To me the clear answer, with many years of actual revenue flowing into our company is an emphatic ‘Yes’.

Ivanovic’s phrasing isn’t quite correct here. Apple’s $15 billion figure is a cumulative amount, and they announced last year that they’d paid out a total of $7 billion to developers, giving Apple a 115% growth rate. Not as good as Google’s, but way, way more money on a per-user basis.

Though Ivanovic’s company has done very well on Android, but the vast majority of developers with paid apps in both stores have consistently reported far greater revenue on iOS than on Android. The chance of users paying for an app on iOS remains vastly greater than Android, so I have to disagree with Ivanovic here.

His second of three points:

The next thing people often throw out is “Oh but it’s so fragmented, I could never bring myself to buy 300 phones and test on 1000 screen sizes!”. This too as it turns out is a mostly a myth based on a lack of understanding. Firstly screen sizes on Android are actually less fragmented on Android than iOS. If you don’t understand why, or don’t believe me then you need to read this, followed by this.

iOS has the greater developer tools for supporting flexible layouts, especially for game developers. Neener neener.

But Ivanovic’s third point is why I’m linking to it. Not to poke fun, but to agree with it:

To me the next most important thing is how the App Store on the platform works. On iOS we’re starting to see things like this on a daily basis:

And that’s just the high profile developers. I shudder to think of how many small developers, with no contacts in the media are just being crushed on a daily basis. Do I see those things on Android? Nope. The only place I’ve seen Google crack down is on apps that download from YouTube and apps that do nefarious things. The first is against YouTube’s TOS, clearly so, and the second is obvious. I can’t tell you just how refreshing it is to push ‘publish’ on a brand new app or update, and see it in the store an hour later.

2015 should be the year of iOS. Apple has given developers a boatload of new APIs and new ways of interacting with iOS, but they apparently haven’t told the App Store review team any of this. While I don’t agree with Ivanovic’s premise — “2015 is the year of Android” — I do think that Apple is squandering its goodwill with developers and betraying their trust and confidence in developing for the platform.