Why Android doesn’t need a billion dollar success story (or “the best new apps don’t really care about iOS”)

Andrew Chen wrote an article today that got a lot of attention. He claims it will take a “billion dollar success story” to change the fact that most new apps are developed for iOS first.

The best app developers remain iOS-first. It’ll take a big success to change that.

I think this misses the real trend entirely and here’s why.

Launching a successful app is about finding product-market fit as quickly as possible. If you’re focused on finding product-market fit you’re not trying to reach everyone. You’re iterating as fast as possible, and only paying attention to your core early adopters. So do the thing that lets you iterate and experiment most quickly.

Obviously that means don’t build two apps for two platforms so if you need to pick one or the other then sure it might as well be iOS.

It’s our generation’s version of “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.”

And that’s fine. But don’t do it because you think that’s where the early adopters are.

That may have been valid 3 years ago but not any more: early adopters for your product might not even be early adopters of tech any more. (And I’ll argue the earliest early adopters of tech have Google Nexus phones now but that’s a whole other post.)

You’re going to do both if you succeed, and either is big enough to start with

If you do achieve product-market fit you’re going to do both platforms (at least), and it isn’t because you started on iOS, it’s because you ended up with the right product quickly.

So who cares which platform you started on.

You could do Android 4.4 only and get to the same place, it has over 20% of Android users as of today, that’s a lot of people, certainly enough to include enough of the right people for your product.

Even if “screen fragmentation” was an issue (it’s not) you could just ignore odd sizes and focus on finding that all-important product-market fit.

But really, who cares, don’t bother betting on one horse or the other. And that’s the real trend now.

We build cross-platform apps. Forget the platform, just focus on iterating to that product-market fit. Then when you find it focus on scaling and get on all platforms as efficiently as you can.

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