We sometimes get a bit of stick for a perceived bias toward iOS on smartphones. Are we ignoring the largest smartphone market? There’s so many more Android devices out there, right?
If we focussed on sales figures – it’d be a no-brainer. Android is clearly the platform of choice for buyers of smartphones. Only Android, iOS and Windows Phone really have any maturity as smartphone platforms. iOS sells a handful of models and Windows Phone hasn’t yet captured much of the market. All the diversity and variety in hardware is on the Android platform. If it weren’t for Android, all those telco handset stores would only have half a dozen models on display.
But the reality is that our data tells us our users, the people that buy and are considering buying subscriptions to our software, are predominantly using iOS devices. Visitors to our marketing site are prospective customers who are researching Xero and also existing users who want to login to and use Xero, and they are the sorts of people to read content, to watch video, to read our blog, and so on. The story this tells is that plenty of people might buy Android phones, but a smaller proportion of those people use those phones to browse our site or use our applications.
It was also interesting to note at Xerocon, when I asked the audience what type of device they had, over half the audience identified themselves as owning iPhones. Less than a quarter had an Android device. Xerocon attendees represent our most committed and loyal accounting partners.
It’s not just our site traffic and the people that come to our conferences. Check out Luke Wroblewski’s collation of research around Android use. The Android Engagement Mystery is real. People just don’t seem to use their Android handsets like they do iPhones – and if they do, they’re in the minority.
An argument might be made that if more people made apps for Android and put it on equal footing with iOS, we might see more people using Android handsets like we expect. However, it’s not our job to sell handsets or to encourage people to use their phones in a way that isn’t natural to them. Our job is to develop features and apps for our customers on the most highly utilised platforms – and to ensure the needs of as many of them as possible are met. In the mobile world – that currently means iOS and Android, while accepting that the bulk of our active mobile customers are using iOS. That may change, but it hasn’t yet.
Android’s an exciting platform and there’s enough use amongst our customer base to commit to supporting it. We’ll continue to make sure our full site works equally well on iPad, Android and other tablets, and in most cases we’ll continue to develop both iOS and Android apps where it makes sense. We covered some of our thoughts on apps on Monday. Despite the engagement mystery, there is definitely a trend toward Android – and we aim to be ready when and if a shift in usage patterns happens.