Many entrepreneurs and businesses that engage in the development of a mobile application ask themselves before initiating their project; is it necessary to develop an iOS and Android application from day one? It’s true that most mobile apps are available for both platforms (OS), but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for your project.
First things first. You must define what the functional use of your mobile application is. Without going into subcategories, there are basically two possibilities; operational or commercial use. In both cases, there is no single formula and different alternatives are possible.
To illustrate the differences between operational and commercial mobile app, let’s take the example of GoStan, one of our partners at Bulldozer. GoStan is a startup that provides the next generation technology in terms of in-seat delivery service for sports organizations. The GoStan team has three different mobile applications; an iOS and Android mobile app that allows users to order food, an iPad app that allows restaurants to receive orders and an iPhone app that enables delivery boy to orient themselves in the stadium while delivering orders.
By analyzing the functional use of the three different mobile applications, it was obvious that the GoStan team would have to choose different technologies for its operational and commercial applications.
What is an operational mobile application?
An operational mobile app is an application that responds to an internal needs of your business. For GoStan, internal needs was to receive, process and deliver orders. Since the devices are supplied to restaurants and delivery boy, both operational GoStan mobile applications have been developed only for iOS (iPad and iPhone).
As for the majority of applications that are used to respond to an internal need for a business, it is logical to direct the technological choice to a single platform. The goal is to reduce development cost, simplify maintenance and standardize the user experience, all without compromising the use of the mobile application in the organization.
Thereafter, the choice of platform is yours. If for example your company offers Android phones to its employees, no need to develop an iOS application. If as GoStan you own the devices, you probably will want to use only one type of device (iOS or Android), thus developing your mobile app for a single OS.
And what’s the differences with a commercial mobile app?
A commercial mobile application is the one that you will distribute in order to support the business activities of your organization. Since you probably want to reach a critical mass of users, you’re probably thinking that it is necessary to develop iOS and Android applications from the start, but it’s not necessarily the case. The choice of platform (iOS or Android) should be based on your business model, the market and the target users, not the opposite.
Let’s take a look again at the GoStan case. The main mobile application that allows users to order food is available for iOS and Android. The reason? The viability of the business model depends mainly on the number of orders, the application has a global reach with the sports market, target customers varies depending on the location of the event and the sport.
In such cases, few indicators helped us define whether an OS was better than the other. Therefore it was difficult to make an clear technological choice before collecting the data. Today, after a year of activity, the ratio of Android and iOS users is 1:3 (one Android user for three iOS users), which is not parity but still significant. Now we can say that choosing not to develop the android application would have impact +/- 33% of the sales of the startup.
There are mainly two reasons why it is smart to develop your mobile application on a single platform first. The first reason is if you have enough indicators to say that your business model, your market and your target users doesn’t justify either platform. If you arrive to the conclusion that 95% of your target users are using iPhones (iOS), developing an Android app is probably not a guarantee of success.
The second reason is this; avoid making mistakes twice. Let’s say you have an idea that seems innovative and that you want to build, your idea may be good, but the reality is that you don’t have the confirmation yet. In this case, it is important to perform several tests to understand what works and what doesn’t work in your mobile. Testing both platforms at the same time means making the same mistakes and making the same changes on both platforms (double investment). In this case, you really should consider developing your mobile app on a single platform and validate as much suppositions as possible before moving on to the second one.
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