Monday, October 21, 2013

Why it is time for Android First

During the weekend, I read an interesting article about the "Android First" strategy.

If you are not familiar with the "Something First" strategies, it all started with "Mobile First": a few years back, developers and business-people alike agreed that, when you are creating a new company, your first product should be on mobile, then on the web. It makes sense, because the growth of mobile is dwarfing desktops. Those who started Mobile First a few years back, are winning today (I was Mobile First with Funambol in 2002 :-))

Now the question is: should you go iOS First - as everybody has been doing for years - or is it time for Android First? Should you design and release your first product for Android, and then for iOS?

The article says no. Just go with iOS. All VCs in Silicon Valley have iPhones and iPads. If you want to raise money, that is the way to do it. Android comes later, when you proved you can grow.

This is where the reasoning breaks down, in my opinion.

Let me start with We thought about a completely new interaction with the second screen, in front of the TV, using voice. A couple of years ago, there was no argument: the iPad was king, we built iOS First.

Then we added iPhone, because it was easy (and because we had a US-centric product in TOK Baseball).

Then we launched Juventus Live. US users currently represent the 2% of our user base, for a team that has 7M+ fans on Facebook.

Last summer, I was shocked when I started looking at which device people were carrying in Italy. Blinded by my life in Silicon Valley, I assumed everyone had an iPhone. My Italian developers were Apple fan boys, my sister-in-law had an iPhone, my nephew an iPod Touch. When I looked closely, my sister-in-law had actually dumped her iPhone for a Samsung Galaxy. My brother had a Galaxy. My nephew had a Galaxy. Everyone I knew had a Galaxy... Those who had an iPhone 4 skipped the upgrade to the iPhone 5 and moved to Android.

Therefore, I started looking for numbers - which are hard to find - to discover that Android has 80% of the market in Italy, while iOS is stuck at 10%. It is not just China. Look at Gartner numbers in Spain.

What is happening across Europe, is that people are buying Android phones, because they are cheaper. When the economy is not doing too well, it makes sense to save some bucks.

Look at the world stats:

Now, you might still argue that in tablet, there is no race. iPad is winning, right? Think again, numbers do not lie:

Ok, you might argue that pure market share is not a good reason to go Android First. After all, the US is fifty-fifty and Silicon Valley is heavily iOS centric. Would you risk building an app first on Android, when VCs can't test it?

Well, there is an interesting trend in the Valley these days. To raise a Series A round, you need millions of users of your app. One million does not cut it anymore. You need more than that, probably much more.

If you stick to iOS-only, you might not get there fast enough. Those who start with Android will be there 8 times faster than you. Ok, I am exaggerating, I know Android users are different and do not use apps like iOS users do. Cut me some slack here... Shall we agree on 3x faster? That is the difference between running out of cash or not.

Should you start Android First? If you are building an app that is not just for Silicon Valley, or the US, I believe the answer is yes.

I am definitely doing it.