As an app developer, you’re probably wary of the fast pace and fierce competition that exists within the industry. However, it’s important to remember that this industry hasn’t been around for that long. Because of that, it’s a bubbling cauldron of instability, failed experiments, game-changing successes, and untapped potential. For many developers, it’s not surprising that they’ve been conditioned to look at the short-term and micro view, since immediate revenue generation provides a measure of a safety net.
The problem with that perspective is that it limits a developer’s true growth potential. The smart path forward for developers is to utilize a global perspective — and by global, I mean literally and figuratively.
Changing Your Default to Android
In many cases, app developers target the iOS market first. Why is that? The decision comes down to revenue. Comparatively, iOS developers see more revenue, as only 50% of iOS developers are below the so-called poverty line (less than $500 a month) while 64% of Android developers eclipse that mark. However, the user base numbers point towards Android across the world. So, while markets like North America and Europe see a neck-and-neck battle between Android and iOS, emerging markets such as South America, Africa, and Asia are firmly Android markets. In fact, Google’s Android One program has made significant inroads in making Android smartphones affordable for the masses.
For developers, this leads to a fountain of untapped potential. Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose sight of that because of the micro perspective we’ve all been conditioned to stay afloat as the app industry matures.
Getting an Edge on Your Competition
The app market can be vicious when it comes to competition. The numbers clearly show that it’s a haves-and-have-nots battle between developers, and with more Android developers coming into the arena, fragmentation can feel like it’s at an all-time high. However, that perspective really focuses on the markets of North America and Europe. Once we shift into a global view, the potential can be limitless. True disruption and growth are ripe for the picking for innovators who can tap into local needs.
The key here is understanding local markets and an even more granular level. Rather than simply translating the on-screen language of an app, innovation lies in the way a local market’s underserved needs can be addressed through technology. Users in the Middle East market (62% Android share) will have different specific needs than those in the South American market (49% Android share) or the familiar North American market (35% Android share). By identifying what those needs are and crafting an intelligent and elegant app specifically for that market, the path to sustainable and stable revenues open up.
In fact, we’ve seen this growth first hand. Recently our team partnered with major telecommunications providers in emerging markets to turn their user data into smart data with rich user profile details, which in turn can be used by app developers and marketers. During this process, we’ve seen the numbers speak for themselves. Take India, for example, where the mobile phone market has gone from 35 million to 200 million users (smartphone and standard combined) between 2010 and 2014. There is a cap to growth potential in the North American and European markets, but these emerging markets are seeing rapid adoption of smartphone technology with the numbers skewing towards Android devices.
Volume for the win
For American-based app developers, the temptation is to push for an immediate cash grab with iOS apps targeting North American and European markets. However, if you take a step back and look at the big picture, you’ll find an entire planet filled with rich opportunities and emerging markets. When it comes to app development, the old axiom of “think globally, act locally” applies — but in this context, it means to develop for the global market while targeting specific local needs. These may not generate the same short-term revenue as an American iOS app, but the combination of volume, opportunities, and further job potential make it an offer that shouldn’t be ignored.