Behind the iOS app advantage

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Behind the iOS app advantage

Apple has the edge over Android when it comes to the number of government apps in the marketplace, with 170 available for iOS and only 93 available for Android.  DigitalGov asked Will Sullivan, director of mobile for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, to dive a little deeper into the reasons behind why government app developers lean toward iOS.

First mover advantage. “For the first several years of the smartphone movement, many new apps would be available only on iOS, and then Android support was added -- or sometimes, not at all,” Sullivan said. “I suspect the government app community is doing the same thing, following that model.”  

Despite Android’s growth globally, Apple maintains an advantage in the United States.  “Audiencewise, it often makes sense to launch on Apple, especially if your core audience is the United States public,” Sullivan said. “Android has grown immensely, and depending on whose data you look at, is growing faster than Apple, but Apple is still very, very strong.”

Unified platform. Because Apple has “rigid controls over the operating system and hardware, it has developed simpler systems for quality assurance.  The Android ecosystem is more fragmented, requiring “multiple devices with different versions and hardware form factors to do a quality QA test,” DigitalGov said.

Stronger security. Apple’s early security measures with features for email systems that support remote wipes likely gave the company an edge among enterprise users.  Android “lagged in this area,” Sullivan said, hurting it in the business and enterprise communities.  

Marketing. The disparity might simply just come down to marketing, however.  Citing an article from June 2014, DigitalGov noted that despite Android’s advantage in the number of devices (3 billion to Apple’s 500 million devices globally at the end of 2014), iOS apps have earned more in revenue and have been marketed better.

The bottom line is that when federal developers evaluate the two platforms,  they should consider how their audience engages in the mobile world.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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