The App Race Is Almost Over. Good Riddance.
Apple has promoted their dominance in the total number of apps developed on iOS vs Android. In June 2009, iOS had 10x as many apps as Android. Those were the early days of Android and they only had 5,000 apps. Fast forward and in less than two years, Android now trails iOS by less than 30%. And, according to Business Insider, that lead will evaporate in a matter of months. And then, we'll finally see the end of this ridiculous App Race.
The older crowd will remember this "more apps" argument from the nearly endless Mac vs. PC arguments over the past few decades. The argument boiled down to a very simple idea: quality vs. quantity. It's the same argument being perpetuated in this Android vs. iOS debate. And both arguments miss a few key points. The flaw in both is that most often, quality and quantity were on the same side. Until very recently, the most popular apps found on iOS could not be found in the Android market. It's only as the numbers of Android apps has approached iOS quantities that parity is being reached. Even so, this year's SxSW proved that there are still iOS exclusive apps being launched in 2011.
What's also lost in these simplistic arguments is that with the most apps comes the most market share. Subsequently, independent apps are developed for the largest platform. It's what made Windows such a powerhouse on the desktop. Changing platforms after custom software has been built is both expensive and difficult. The same has happened in the last four years with the launch of the iPhone. People created specialized apps for the iPhone and aren’t likely to port them to Android in the near term.
What's maddening about this from the consumers' perspective is the lack of choice it leaves as a result. Both Windows and iOS software are difficult to port to other platforms. But, luckily there is hope for the future; and it lies in the freedom of the web. With HTML5 apps becoming increasingly more attractive for its cross-compatibility and due to restrictive app store policies, the next time you buy an app, you may be able to pay once and use it on every device. And then, we'll truly see the end of the App Race.