The Fallacy Of Android-First

In late 2012, we decided to launch Emu on Android first. It went against the conventional wisdom at the time, but we saw a real advantage. Sixteen months later, we’re back on iOS: Emu for iPhone launched on April 2. Here’s why Android didn’t work out for us and why you should think carefully before going Android-first.

To build a messaging app on iPhone, you have to create your own communication channel — essentially an IM service. But on Android, you can simply replace the built-in Messages app, while still using the underlying SMS/MMS medium. You save yourself the effort of building a communication service. And, your users needn’t invite their friends: they’ll receive messages in the same place they always have. That lowers the barrier to trying your app, easing adoption. (This difference isn’t based on any technical limitation; it’s purely a choice by Apple and Google, one that either company could reverse in the future.)

But what of the conventional wisdom that Android users won’t download apps? We looked at the data and didn’t see it. Android users were less likely to pay for apps, to download games, and to pay for in-app content. But they were certainly downloading. Android had more users globally, and was on track to surpass the iOS installed base in the U.S. (It has since done so.) Android’s UX was improving, and a few high-profile influencers were switching to it from iPhone.

Read the rest at techcrunch.com (originally published April 2014).

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