As the revenue gap to iOS shrinks, why aren't developers supporting Android tablets?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Developer support

Regardless of how you feel about either platform, the numbers are showing the same trend that we saw with smartphones: Apple jumped out to a fast start, but over the long haul Android just keeps coming. The iPhone has dropped precipitously in market share (although Apple is still raking in huge profits from the device), and the iPad is losing ground as well.

Between the Nexus line, the various Samsung Galaxy Tabs, and the Asus line of Android tablets, there is plenty of choice for quality Android hardware. The customers are there for Android, and they are spending more and more money in the Google Play Store, so the question remains: Why are developers so slow to support 10" Android tablets?

The development tools are available to make an Android app that easily scales between phones and tablets via responsive design, but for some reason, developers are still slow to update apps to take advantage of the new hardware on the market. There are really only two reasonable explanations that we can think of for this:

1) There is a delay between consumer adoption and developer support. Honeycomb was the lost time for Android, and can't really count because it was so divorced from everything else. So, if we take Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as the real beginning of 10" Android tablets (as consumers seem to have done), the proper universal Android SDK has only really been on the market for a year, and proper 10" Android tablets didn't arrive until around February of this year.

Android had built up to about 40% of the tablet market as of the end of last year, but that was mostly due to 7" tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Amazon Kindle Fire, and Barnes & Noble Nook. Android 10" tablets have really only been seeing relative success in the market for the past 8 or 9 months. That should still be enough time for the major app developers to update apps for larger screens (we're looking at you: Twitter and Dropbox). So, the other possibility is:

2) The numbers aren't changing opinion. As we said, the numbers that show Android closing the revenue gap aren't firm. But, the numbers showing Android closing the market share gap for tablets are definitely real, and the numbers showing Android taking the lead on smartphones are also real. Even though the numbers we have for app revenue aren't solid, more users means more app purchases and more app revenue, so it is hard to think the numbers are that far off.

Of course, even if the numbers are accurate, the prevailing media storyline tends to be that the iPad rules the market, and Android still gets an incorrect reputation for not generating much as far as app revenue. If developers don't bother to look into the facts, that could be enough to sway them.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it seems like the issue should be getting filtered out over the next year. Android tablets are more than likely going to continue to gain market share (even if there is a short-term gain for Apple with the release of the iPad mini), and developers are going to have fewer excuses for not making proper tablet apps.

There are of course more tablet apps for Android than people tend to realize because most Android apps are universal and not split up as often as is found on iOS, but it still isn't enough. Trying to say the 10" app ecosystem for Android is sufficient is like claiming the 100,000 apps in the Windows Phone Store covers the same selection as the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. There are going to be notable blind spots that need to be addressed.

We expect that the Android tablet app ecosystem will be spurred on with the release of the Nexus 10 (just as Google hopes), and soon enough, this won't be a story anymore. But, for now, it is still an issue, and one that will frustrate many first time Android tablet buyers.

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49 Comments

1. Mxyzptlk unregistered

One thing is app piracy. People sideload apps on Android and developers aren't willing to risk that chance. They make more money off iOS so the game is still quite huge.

5. aahmed215

Posts: 169; Member since: Jun 18, 2012

There is app piracy on the iPhone too.

29. HäckeMáte

Posts: 168; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

Wow Mxy, ever heard of Cydia or Installous?? its actually far worse than sideloading apps on Android. I've even used it to download LogMeIn Ignition (a $99.00 app)

35. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Yes you're correct, you have to jailbreak the device. Most use Cydia to get all their black market apps. Unlike Android, you can get them, and side load them practically from anywhere. Furthermore, you need not root device to use pirated apps, so the process easier, simpler.

46. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

DANG!!!! Apple is just starting to become more like Nokia! (Didn't c that coming!)

7. buccob

Posts: 2968; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

I would say that Jailbreaking and Cydia is way more popular than sideloading on Android... For the average guy, it is known that Cydia exist and it is a complete pirate store available for jailbroken iphones... Android on the other hand is popular, but the average guy don't even know there is sideloading option... So your argument is not really valid... There is piracy on both OS

10. deuel_18

Posts: 54; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

arent there any blocking security system for piracy?..like what they did with RealPlayer in Google Chrome..luckily theres still window 8 i could use to download my favorite song/videos from youtube

16. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

That does seem fishy Hmmm...

23. Nadr1212

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

That's still pretty impressive Apple having 57% of market share, specially that it is on its own, UNlike Android.

27. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They had a huge head start, and Android tablets stumbled out the gate. Within a year or two, Apple share will mirror smartphones. Android JB is super smooth, without sacrificing any the power or flexibility.

37. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

just compare how many phones and tablets each OS has....enough of your dumb comments...

39. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Edit....

43. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

All you need is to open your browser, bang your done. How easy is that, or is it perhaps you have never tried it or know how to do it.

8. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Yeah, I'd have to agree with the guys who replied to you. Piracy may be easier on Android, but that doesn't mean it's more prevalent, because it is still only done by an extremely small proportion of the user base. And, regardless of piracy, Android is closing the gap with iOS in terms of app revenue, and that can't be ignored.

11. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Well-done article. I am curious to see that the ipadmini is supposedly set to grab a bit more marketshare. From what I've been hearing the 4 is the hot seller, and folks have been buying now-cheaper 3s and 2s instead of the smaller, less-capable, and non-retina-screened mini. I think the 7-9" tablet market will remain Android's, and the 9.7"+ will become a 3-way race (as it's already starting to be) between Android, ipad, and Windows RT

15. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The story author replying is like super food to the troll. Don't feed him. To add to the discussion, it's less necessary to rework an app for Android, since Android doesn't require a certain resolution like iOS. Like a PC, an android device scales to the given resolution. Also, data showing the inevitable dominance of android on the Tablet sector has only just started showing up. When developers start seeing a trending toward android and money to be made, developers will follow.

26. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

That's what everyone thinks, but I've had some good discussions with Myx.

30. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Where there's smoke...

38. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Must have been eons ago...

47. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

You guys need to realize that just because someone likes Apple doesn't make them a troll. I've seen you guys reacting to Myx like he's a troll, even though he hasn't said anything inflamatory.

49. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

Great article but I think you nailed it at the end. The apps are universal which is a huge benefit to having an android tablet and phone. Developers can't double dip with Android users so gives them less incentive to do so. Personally I prefer only having to buy the app once or having to decide which device I want to buy it for. With the gap in market share closing I'm sure that'll be the push developers need.

12. noim1

Posts: 297; Member since: May 15, 2012

It is clearly shown that u r an iSheep !!! if there are premium & Quality apps for tablets then why not..i would also pay for the app to gain future updates .....and don't talk like there is no Piracy in iOS .....stop bitching and accept your iOS is 2 years behind Android .....

22. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

What you said is load of baseless nonsense some ios app developers have as much piracy as android developers so that excuse is lame, jailbreak is a YouTube video away, people who want to pirate apps will pirate apps

34. LOTR12

Posts: 13; Member since: Nov 04, 2012

A lot of android users don't side load or pirate apps because most of the ones they use are free, or the ones that come with the tablet/phone are good enough that they don't have to do all the pirate work.

36. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

You are entitled to your opinion. Yes, there are several useless apps that are free, especially games. However, say you wanted something with more substance, say to tether. You can get the free version, which they'll call lite, with minimum functionality. You have to invest $3.99 and upward for the pro version.

42. AamirSIII

Posts: 187; Member since: Oct 04, 2012

Im 100% android user and i 100% agree to what u have just said. u know just about 3 weeks ago i had to buy my first tablet. i did so much research to choose between iPad and Note 10.1 i cant tell u! but at the end i went for Note 10.1! u know why, cause of the Android! i love Android because of its openness! but i knew there would be not much of apps for my tablet. and yes there are literally not much! even the most commonly used apps have no tablet compatible version! i live in Pakistan. here we have no play store purchase facility. but i get the play cards more than their original price just to buy apps i like! for a person living in a country with no play store purchase facility, i still buy apps! i would personally like to request developers (either solo developers or companies) to pls develop apps for android seriously! u would not be disappointed! make our tablet experiences better and we would make ur pockets heavy.... lol :)

48. thephonedude

Posts: 60; Member since: Oct 27, 2012

There is app piracy in iOS too.. ahem ahem *jailbreaking Ahem...download paid apps for free ahem..

2. MeoCao unregistered

Oh they will, after Nexus 10 we will see a lot more adapted apps for 10" hi-res Andoid tablets.

3. PAPINYC

Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

...... because those same "developers" have stock in Apple, so you see, it's a conflict of financial interest; they need Android tablets to fail, no matter how much more superior they may be to that tAmpAd, their iDividends depend on it.

4. wendygarett unregistered

Nice article Michael... Keep up the good work :)

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