Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the iOS mobile app landscape and that of Google’s Android is that of sourcing. While the iOS ecosystem is tightly controlled by Apple’s gatekeepers, Android’s open-source milieu has often been described as the “Wild West.” Maintaining such differences is probably healthy for competition, as it provides both users and developers with a clearly distinct choice, but the fact of the matter is that both systems come with their own disadvantages.
First, Apple keeps an iron grip on its own app store, in an attempt to ensure both security and the quality of the apps that are made available. According to a recent report by VentureBeat, however, Apple’s famously vague (and sometimes, it seems, arbitrary) policies have been getting a few developers banned and their apps pulled without them ever really understanding why. As VentureBeat quite rightly notes, high rankings in the app store “could mean the difference between a million dollars in revenue and Top Ramen for dinner.” When developers find they’ve been banned for using an app marketing firm they didn’t realize was less than reputable, they can end up being frozen out of the app store permanently. Charitably referred to as “collateral damage,” developers are essentially blacklisted, and all their time, money, and effort wasted.
Google’s problem is a little bit different. While the rules that can freeze developers out of Apple’s app store don’t apply to Android, the possibility of piracy is considerably higher. Developers of the Android app Dead Trigger complained that “unbelievably high piracy” hindered efforts to sell their game app, and they decided to make it free-to-play. Presumably they did so to make a point, as their press releases demonstrates a disdain for other, more Android-friendly methods of monetization – in-app purchases, for example – but the fact remains that at least a few developers consider a closed-source app market to be better for business.