You’re considering building a mobile app—but first, you must make an important choice.

This choice can determine whether your digital project will be an epic success, or an underperforming dud.

So you definitely want to make it carefully…

You need to decide which platform to launch your app.

While there are quite a few platforms to choose from, iOS and Android are the two most dominant players in the mobile space—so we’ll focus on those.

In a perfect world, you’d launch on both at the same time. But due to budget and time constraints, this isn’t always possible.

Each platform has its pros and cons, and your choice will depend on a number of factors.

If you’re unsure on which platform to choose, don’t worry—in this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know to make the right choice, and set your mobile app up for success.

Identify Your Audience—and Their Preferred Platform

Demographics differ between the iOS and Android platforms.

More people use Android devices globally—which is why Android accounts for nearly 75% of app downloads. Although Apple’s App Store has only an 18% share of all app downloads, they make an estimated $5.1 million in daily revenue; Google banks just $1.1 million per day.

So it’s no shock that iOS users are seven times more active than Android users. The average iOS user is more engaged with the technology, and has more disposable income.

If your app is for use by a younger audience, Android may be a better fit, while iOS may better suit a young adult/older audience.

With all this being said, you can shortcut this process a bit if you already have a website for your business. You can dive into your analytics and see what portion of your mobile visitors are coming from iOS or Android. If mobile engagement is higher from iOS users, it’s a good idea to start with that platform—and vice versa for Android.

Where are They Located?

The popularity of each platform differs across the globe. iOS is more popular in the US, but Android leads the market throughout much of Asia.

Which countries do you plan to target your app? Research which mobile platform is more popular there.

Do You Plan to Charge for Your App?

We mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating. Apple’s App Store makes an estimated $5.1 million in daily revenue, compared to Google Play’s $1.1 million in daily revenue.

The statistics don’t lie: iOS users are more willing—and more likely to pay—for an app than Android users.

And while Google continues to increase the number of countries that support paid Google Play apps, Apple still has a sizable lead in this area.

While this shouldn’t completely deter you from building on Android, it needs to be considered before your initial launch.

And if you do plan to charge for your app, iOS is the better option up front.

Now that you have a general idea of when to go with Android or iOS, let’s look at the pros and cons of each platform.

Android’s Pros and Cons

The Android platform is based on open-source software, which makes it easier for first-time entrepreneurs and bootstrapped businesses to throw their hand into the mix. With Android, you can use crowd-created plugins and frameworks, which simplifies creation.

Let’s say you want to build a gaming app. Instead of starting from scratch and building your own game framework, you can get a head start and use a pre-built framework like AndEngine.

Google Play and Kindle stores, which are the main marketplaces for Android apps, have fairly lenient restrictions on the types of apps you can submit. This allows you to take advantage of some new and different technologies when building your app.

Some cons? When you build with Android, you’ll need to test on several different devices to make sure there won’t be dependencies issues between different versions—and there also may be more development difficulties.

iOS’s Pros and Cons

One HUGE advantage of iOS is that it is more popular in the United States. If you’re targeting American customers, iOS is your best option.

And, as we mentioned before, if you charge for your app, or offer in-app purchases, iOS is a better choice than Android because users are four times more likely to spend money.

A possible setback with iOS is that users have a high expectation for the look and feel of the apps they use. As a result, your design needs to look top quality, or users will turn away. This top notch design might cost you more money up front (although it can have a huge payoff).

Conclusion

Before building your mobile app, you need to make the right choice when choosing a mobile platform. While there are several platforms, iOS and Android are the two most dominant, and that’s where you should begin.

There is no definitive answer as to which to go with first. In order to make the right decision, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each platform as it relates to your mobile app and your business model.

This will depend on things like your target customers, their locations, and whether or not your app will offer some sort of purchase (in-app or otherwise). It also depends on the current state of your business, as well as your goals moving forward.

If you have the time and budget, it’s beneficial to build on both platforms at the same time—but certainly not make-or-break for your app’s success.

Typically, it’s best to build your app on one platform, get feedback, iterate, test, and improve—then build on the other platform.

Do you need help choosing the right platform for your next mobile app? Here at Caffeine, we build mobile apps for both iOS and Android platforms. Click here to schedule a call with me to discuss your project!

Dustin DeVries

Dustin DeVries

Living and breathing software strategy and architecture, Dustin has been building software for over 20 years. He really enjoys working with clients to determine the right technology, whether it’s a web application framework like Django or NodeJS, or a simple CMS solution like WordPress. He received his BS in Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University. During his spare time, Dustin enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, running, and hanging out with his family.