Of the two, iOS and Android, which mobile development platform should I study?

Which development platform should I study?

Computer Science students and burgeoning software developers are often faced with the daunting task of choosing a language and development platform in which they will devote considerable time and energy.  Should a new developer learn Java and begin developing in the Android platform?  Or should the student study Objective C and devote their resources toward learning IOS?

Furthermore, which tech will be obsolete in 10 years, forcing the developer to  either specialize in legacy code maintenance or to learn yet another language and platform (Does anyone remember RIM?) ?  Which platforms earn the most revenue?  Most important for students, which  platforms demand the most jobs?


Mobile Phone Sales by Operating System:

New developers should consider which mobile phone OS is outperforming the others.  If one particular kind of OS is dominating the marketshare, we should expect demand to be higher for jobs working with this tech.   According to a May 2014 article by TechCrunch, nearly 75% of handset sales sold in Q1 of 2014 were on Google’s Android platform.   This was a nearly 20% year over year increase.  “Android’s dominance in the OS market is unshakable,” writes Anshul Gupta, principle research analyst at Gartner.


Wikipedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/World_Wide_Smartphone_Sales.png


App Store Market Share

Even though Google’s Android “is the dominant mobile operating system on a global perspective (though the two are much closer in marketshare in the U.S.) and it beat Apple to the 1 million apps mark, “  Apple monetizes iOS apps much more effectively than Google Play.

This may be due to the demographic of iPhone users compared to their Android counterparts.  According to Serdar Yegulalp writing for InforWorld, “the big takeaway is clear: iOS may be the smaller platform in terms of market share, but it’s the big one as far as revenue goes. Its users have more money to spend — not surprising considering the way Apple devices still have the cachet of luxury goods.”

For every $1.00 in app download revenue earned by iOS developers, their Android counterparts earn just $0.19,” according to data compiled by Business Insider. The gap for up-front and in-app purchases is slightly narrower, with Android bringing in $0.43 for every $1.00 on iOS, while advertising revenue is the closest at $0.77 on the dollar.

Indeed, developing for IOS yields five times more revenue per download, meaning that companies trying to decide which environment to develop in  may prefer money-making iOS platform over Android.


Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-the-difference-in-developer-revenue-between-android-and-ios-2013-11


Tech Writer Recommendations

One question we might explore is  which apps are tech writers recommending that companies develop in?  Christinia Warren at Mashable, recommends that companies develop in both.  Yet,  if the company suffers from time constraints and must choose one OS to develop in in the short-term,  they should choose iOS first, then Android second.

She writes “Android is the dominant mobile operating system on a global perspective (though the two are much closer in marketshare in the U.S.) and it beat Apple to the 1 million apps mark. Moreover, with the success of phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, brand identity around Android is growing by the day.”  However, “My advice tends to be to plan on both an iOS and Android app for most companies, if you think you need a native mobile app. That doesn’t mean you have to launch with both at the same time, but both should be on your ultimate timeline.


The Acid Test

Given the aforementioned information, new developers ultimately should be interested in which technology has the most demand relative to the current supply of developers.  One way to gauge demand is through job board postings.  To survey postings, I turn to Dice.com,  “the leading career site for technology and engineering professionals.”  To gauge the number of jobs available, I searched for the following keywords, “Android Developer,” “Android Engineer,” “iOS Developer,” and “iOS Engineer.”   I purposely didn’t merely search for “Android” or “iOs” because I wanted to make sure to see only the positions available for developers and engineers, and not, for example, product and customer support professionals.

The search query returned the following job posts:

Keyword Number of Jobs Returned
Android Developer 2625
Android Engineer 1464
iOS Developer 1558
iOS Engineer 1671

Although there are roughly 500 more developer and engineer positions available for the Android platform, the demand for iOS is still strong.

To sign up for an account at Dice, got to http://www.dice.com/


Concluding remarks

Although Android has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last few years and has increased its marketshare within the mobile phone market, it still remains far behind Apple in terms of revenue generation from the Google Play store.  This likely means that both Android and iOS are not going anywhere anytime soon and that companies will continue to hire  both kinds of  developers well into the future.    Furthermore, the evidence from Dice.com is that both platforms are currently very strongly in demand.  It is the opinion of this author that either platform would be good for students in Computer Science or new developers to begin to study.



About Edward Skrod

Software engineer with two year’s experience programming in C++, 4 months of C, and 12 months experience programming in Java. I'm currently learning C#.