New figures show the Android operating system has inched ahead of Apple when it comes to Australian market share, with the sheer number of devices providing Google’s platform with more strength in numbers.
The revelation is no surprise – Android is ahead of iOS in several other countries – but developers say it’s an important reminder for businesses to consider when developing mobile sites and applications.
“When it comes to app development, given it’s neck and neck…you really do need an iOS and Android version of whatever you’re creating,” says Reseo chief executive Chris Thomas.
The Telsyte figures show Android controls 44% of the market compared to Apple’s 43%, which is a modest milestone considering Australia has one of the highest iOS penetration rates in the world.
In general, Australians are heavy smartphone users and represent one of the most mobile-saturated countries. Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says there are a few factors behind the push, including the fact Apple only releases a new phone once a year.
“One of the drivers is low-cost devices. You can buy inexpensive Android smartphones, which isn’t the case with Apple.”
One of the major factors in the uptake of Android devices is the release of the Galaxy SIII, which has been a profitable venture for Samsung after being hailed as the anti-iPhone.
The major factor for SMEs here is that more users will be looking for a mobile version of your site, and now in a variety of platforms. Chris Thomas says you need to keep this in mind when creating a mobile site.
“Responsive is the word that jumps to mind,” he says.
Responsive design refers to a type of design that shifts and changes based on the viewing platform. So instead of creating separate sites for desktop and mobile platforms, the site automatically detects whether you’re viewing on a PC or smartphone.
Thomas says if you use responsive design, it can eliminate the few problems that can occur when taking into account both Android and Apple users.
“It doesn’t matter that much anyway, what you’re doing is creating a mobile specific version of the site that surfaces information that mobile users want.”
“Responsive design is platform independent, which is an advantage.”
As for apps, Thomas says it would be a mistake for developers to ignore making an Android version of applications now the platform is so popular – although he points out for developers it’s useful to test on one platform first before expanding to a second.
“You really do need an iOS and Android version, but you probably want to test on one before moving to a second.”
Fadaghi says the iOS market is nowhere near disappearing, but it helps to keep in mind that Android is the dominant platform.
“Android now represents the largest install base possible. That’s not to say Apple users aren’t downloading more, or have more apps, but in terms of absolute audience, Android is the largest.”