How to Choose the Best Platform for Your Mobile App

So you’re developing your very own mobile app. Which platform should you choose?

The popularity of mobile enterprise apps and consumer-based mobile apps has grown tremendously in the last decade. App stores are flooded with millions of mobile apps covering myriad topics and genres. Hundreds and thousands of new apps appear in app stores every day. Since app development can be a lucrative business, new app developers hoping to develop the next big thing are always on the horizon. Mobile platforms have sprung up over the years to cater to the increasing demand, but how do you choose which platform is best for your app?

Reading about basic functionalities of iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry RIM doesn’t give you the full picture of the good, the bad and the ugly of each platform. The capabilities of one operating system may not be possible in another. In order to take advantage of specific platform capabilities, developers should target the operating system and the associated development environment to create an application with those features. Since no single platform can fulfill all your development needs, find the one that’s most suited to your aims, goals, challenges and ultimately, the one most appealing to your target users.

Your Mobile App Target Audience

One of the biggest determining factors when it comes to selecting your mobile platform is your target audience. If your app targets the mass market, you want to make sure the most popular platforms such as iOS and Android are your priorities. If the business community is your primary target, corporate-based platforms like BlackBerry make a good choice. Either way, it’s of paramount importance to keep your target audience in mind when selecting your mobile platform.

iOS and Android have the largest user base while BlackBerry and Windows take a significantly smaller share of the pie. According to Business Insider, Android has captured almost 80.2% of users while iOS trails behind at 14.8%. When choosing the appropriate mobile platform, you need to know where most of your users are going to be so you can capture them at the right place and at the right time.

Your Mobile ROI (Return on Investment)

Whether developing mobile apps is your passion or a hobby, you’ll need revenue to sustain your business. Consider the costs and and profit before you embark on the app development journey.

The platform on which you create your app determines your revenue stream.

The median mobile revenue per app on iOS is generally $500 – $1000 per app per month as compared to $100 – $200 on Android. A study done by Raymond James Research showcased that nearly half of existing iPhone users intended to retain and upgrade to the latest version of the Apple phone after the launch. On the flipside, only 44.4% of current Android users intended to upgrade to another Android smartphone. The conclusion? iOS users are comparatively more loyal than Android users, creating greater revenue opportunities for developers aiming to work on the iOS platform.

Piracy Issues

Piracy is a concern for mobile app developers. Android is reported to have whopping piracy numbers on the app store. Google’s platform was criticized for the relative ease of finding and installing unofficial apps. Android apps can easily be pirated, circulated as apk files and installed on devices without having to root them. iOS, on the other hand, be it free or paid, requires validation by Apple before being downloaded from the App Store. The more open nature of the Google Play Store as compared to the Apple App Store has created circuitous routes for downloading apps without actually having to pay for them. This is a major cause for concern to developers who aim to monetize their apps. As a result, many developers, big or small, turn to an ad-injected model on Android as an alternative form of revenue generation.


iOS Apps

Developers looking to create apps on iOS have to work with Xcode. Xcode supports C, C++, Objective-C++, Java, AppleScript, Python, Ruby, Rez and Swift source code with a variety of programming models, including but not limited to Cocoa, Carbon and Java. The latest version, Xcode 6, includes interesting features like “Playground”, live debugging tools and an entirely new programming language called “Swift”. Although Xcode is sleek and powerful, users have complained of latency and editing errors in Xcode 6.

Android Apps

Android developers now have a choice between Eclipse and Android Studio.


Eclipse program components provide the environment for writing, modifying, compiling, debugging and deploying software. Support is available for C++, CBOL, Python, Ruby on Rails etc. The advantage of Eclipse is that a wide range of cohesive tools are available and it runs on a variety of operating systems. On the downside, it can be extremely slow and resource intensive.

Android Studio

Android Studio is now the official IDE for Android. It’s a fairly new tool for app development and programming. One of the newly integrated features in Android Studio is Gradle. Gradle is so deeply integrated that users who have not been exposed to this feature may find it extremely challenging. One commendable feature about Android Studio is its layout designer with a drag-and-drop interface. This enables the creation of visually appealing applications. The main drawback of Android Studio is the complexity and lack of resources and tutorials for beginners. Users new to app development may find it challenging to learn the ropes on Android Studio.

Windows Apps

Windows phone users make up approximately 3.5% of the worldwide smartphone market share. Compared to the other mobile platforms, Windows is definitely not the top choice for app developers. Even though prospects on Windows may not be as promising as iOS or Android, the platform does provide some pretty versatile tools for app development. The platform supports a variety of languages such as C# or C++ with XAML, C++ with DirectX and JavaScript with HTML/CSS. Additionally, Windows provides a very detailed step-by-step guide from start to finish, ensuring that beginners are adequately prepared. The App Studio allows developers to build apps for immediate publishing, testing and sharing with clients, co-workers and focus groups. Although the Windows platform may not have as large of a market share as Android or iOS, their many development options are expertly designed for everyone from beginners to veteran developers.

BlackBerry Apps

BlackBerry is best known as the provider of secure and reliable software for industrial applications and mobile device management. It’s without a doubt that developers choose this platform for creating apps catered to the corporate world. But in recent years, Blackberry has slowly lost market share to Android and iOS. However, when it comes to app development, there’s still some potential within the platform due to its stability. The downside is the complexity developers encounter due to encryption issues.

And if none of the above is attractive enough to you, you can always consider CPT!

Cross-Platform Tools (CPT)

Cross-platform tools allow developers to write apps in one codebase and deploy them across multiple platforms. Developing apps for multiple platforms lowers your costs and allows you to reach a wider audience pool while maintaining and making changes that instantly sync across all platforms and devices. It’s definitely useful in this increasingly fragmented mobile space.

Notable platforms like PhoneGap, AdobeAir, Appcelerator and Corona SDK come to mind when we talk about cross-platform tools. But just like the other platforms previously discussed, each tool has its pros and cons. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Take PhoneGap for example. It’s one of the most popular tools among developers because it uses standard web development languages like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. However, if you need to extend your app with a custom PhoneGap plugin, the chances of finding a suitable plugin is low since PhoneGap is open source. AdobeAir boasts impressive reach but it may not be an ideal long-term strategy for mobile development. Similarly, other available tools provide a range of functionalities while coming with limitations.

At the end of the day, the onus is on you, the developer, to choose the best platform for your app. Whichever platform you choose, Smaato’s free mobile-first publisher platform (SPX) will be there to monetize your app in just minutes!