by September 27, 2012 0 comments

Developing a mobile app can be both an exhilarating and a frustrating experience. Also, each mobile platform has its own sets of pros and cons for development. We analyse the four popular platforms-iOS, Android, Windows 8 and BlackBerry-on four key parameters that matter most to developers.

1) iOS ( Available on the Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch)

Ease Of Coding: iOS apps are developed using Apple’s Objective-C , which is a high-level, object-oriented programming language. However, the Xcode IDE needed to build the iOS apps is only available on the Mac OS, and not on Windows. This means that developers will have to purchase a Mac to be able to use the iOS SDK.

iPhone vs iPad: While apps developed for the iPhone do work on the iPad, specific apps for the latter can be developed which take advantage of the increased display size of the iPad. Developers need to modify some of the code to optimize visuals on the iPad, though most of the code can be reused.

Ease of market launch: Developers must pay a fee of $99 per year for the developer license. Only then can they release a free or commercial version of their app. 30% revenue from paid apps goes to Apple, while 70% goes to the developer.

Reach to audience: With over 400 million accounts on the Apple App Store with registered credit cards, iOS has one of the widest audiences among all platforms. But with over 500,000 apps on the iPhone App Store, there is also intense competition among Apps to be popular among users.

2) Android (available on multiple devices that include phones and tablets)

Ease Of coding: The Android SDK is used to develop Android apps using Java. A fresh Android 4.1 API has been released to facilitate developing for the new Jelly Bean OS. An advantage of developing for Android is that it can be done on multiple platforms including Linux, Mac OSX and Windows. There is even an “App Inventor for Android”, which uses a visual development environment for novice coders to build apps.

Smartphone vs tablet: The Google Play store is common across all Android devices, and phone apps will work fine on tablets as well. Although Android tablets will automatically scale native phone apps to the larger screen, Google encourages developers to optimize their apps for tablets. For eaxmple, Google has given a primer on how developers can optimize their apps for the new Nexus 7 tablet. (Link:

Ease of market launch: Developers who wish to publish Android apps have to do so through the Google Play Developer Console. For this, they have to register a publisher account with a one-time fee of US$25. Like in the App Store, 30% share is taken by Google while the rest goes to the developer.

Reach to audience: Although Google claims it has reached the 400 million user mark for Android in 2012, the number may be bloated due to multiple Google accounts created by users as well as through the “flashing” of Android ROMs on various devices. Hence, Apple still has the edge in terms of unique number of audience reached over Google Play.

3) Windows 8

Ease Of coding: With Windows 8, developers need to use Visual Studio Express 2012 and the Windows 8 SDK to develop apps. You can build a Windows 8 app with standard web technologies as well as XAML with code-behind written in C++, C# or Visual Basic. Unfortunately, Metro-style apps can only be built on a Windows 8 machine.

Smartphone vs tablet: Metro-style apps are compatible with both Windows 8 on x86/x64 and Windows RT, which runs on the Surface tablet. While Windows Phone 8 will not directly support metro-style apps from the tablet, most underlying code will be the same, and only the presentation layer will have to be re-coded and implemented. This makes life tougher, as iOS and Android apps can run on all mobile devices without needing modification.

Ease of market launch: The Windows Store will be the central marketplace where applications can be published. If an app is priced, Microsoft will take 30% of the fee when the accumulated receipts are less than 25,000 USD. Once a developer exceeds this total revenue for an app, the commission fee drops to 20% of the app charges.

Reach to audience: As Windows 8 has not been officially launched yet, it is difficult to estimate this. Nevertheless, there is a huge potential for global outreach with Windows 8, as there are billions of systems which will be upgraded to Windows 8 come October. However, the success of Windows 8 tablets such as Surface is still very much in the air, so global outreach can only be speculated.

4) BlackBerry

Ease Of Coding: This platform provides the most impressive options to develop an app. With the new BlackBerry 10 platform, most technologies such as C++, HTML5, Adobe ActionScript and Android can be used to build apps. Unfortunately though, the new BB10 platform will not support the older BlackBerry 7 apps.

Smartphone vs tablet: BlackBerry has announced that the PlayBook will receive an update to BB10. This will be the same OS running on the new phones launched within the next year. This is good news for developers, as there will be cross-compatibility amongst mobile phones and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Ease of market launch: Apps can be submitted on BlackBerry App World , either free or paid. Similar to other app stores, BlackBerry takes 30% of proceeds from paid app fees.

Reach to audience: Over 75 million active BlackBerry subscribers can be reached, who can pay through credit cards, PayPal and carrier billing. However, with the decline of RIM, amidst heavy competition in the mobile space, developers will feel they have a better chance of recognition on other platforms.

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