Don’t kid yourself it’s an “Apple-Google” world

A study released this week by research company Nielsen shows that 74 percent of app downloaders are on Android or Apple operating systems, with these device owners having more apps on their phones than people using other smartphone platforms. The average number of apps you’ll find on various operating systems is 48 on iPhones and 35 on Android phones, compared with 15 on the BlackBerry.

These numbers may at first appear to prove that businesses developing apps just for the iPhone or Android operating systems are justified in their neglect of other platforms – this approach, of course, is terribly mistaken.

Rather than being an affirmation of many businesses’ decision to develop on a single operating system, these statistics should serve as a reminder that the quality and availability of apps on platforms other than Android or iOS are lacking, resulting in a large share of smartphone users unable to utilize the apps that they want.

A journalist recently pointed out to me that the significantly higher rate of app downloads on iOS and Android systems did not mean that businesses are effectively connecting with their consumers on those platforms. Many of these apps, he said, are of such a low quality that they are merely downloaded never to be looked at again, and the number is only higher on iOS and Android because businesses are just throwing apps out into those markets without really thinking about their comprehensive mobile strategies.

Indeed, businesses should not forget that although Android and Apple have 37 percent and 27 percent shares respectively in the US, Blackberry users make up 22 percent of smartphone users, with Windows phone 7 users also gaining momentum at 10 percent. This of course means that by just developing apps for Android and Apple platforms, businesses are losing out on building and monetizing mobile interactions with their consumers on other operating systems.

This business mentality of only developing apps for one or two operating systems undoubtedly stems from the fact that traditionally, mobile application development on numerous mobile platforms and devices has proved to be an extremely difficult (and costly) technical challenge. With most app developers treating each operating system and each mobile device as separate development projects, rapid growth in the mobile device market has only exemplified the headaches of fragmentation within the mobile app development space.

However, organizations no longer have to gamble by choosing just one platform when it comes to mobile app development. With the right technology, such as a mobile app development platform that uses a single application definition for deployment of rich applications to all channels, businesses can leap ahead with their mobile strategy, creating feature-rich customer experiences without getting bogged down in the technicalities of mobile development.

Businesses can therefore ensure that they cost-effectively and seamlessly deploy a future-proof, comprehensive mobile strategy across all platforms, giving them more time to focus on the business side of a mobile strategy.

David Eads leads Product Marketing for Kony, the mobile commerce platform vendor. David is a mobile commerce veteran and was the founder of consulting firm Mobile Strategy Partners in 2009. As a blogger and frequent industry speaker, David has been interviewed about mobile for national media outlets like Mobile Commerce Daily, Marketplace on NPR, Inc Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The Christian Science Monitor. Additionally, David also has a decade of technical experience developing enterprise software systems in Java and other languages for UNIX, Windows, and other systems.