Is your company willing to create software that is exclusive to iPhone or iPad (to iOS)? Do you think they should?
Why? Why not?
These are really basic, reasonable, and in fact quite controversial questions to ask when discussing mobile strategy with enterprise development teams.
Saying ‘yes’ means saying ‘no’
Saying yes to delivering the best experience means defining a target customer well, and not focusing on others. You have to be willing to say no.
In healthcare, that seems quite unfair. Possibly even troubling. “What do you mean I can’t get the latest healthcare advances on my phone if I have android?” Can quickly become very bad PR.
In banking, there’s already an “inclusiveness” debate… I’m sure no bank wants to be non-inclusive by targeting only an expensive set of devices to the exclusion of others.
The answer to this, of course, is about shifting perspective.
One isn’t delivering “worse capabilities” to Android. Rather, you are creating a baseline mobile web experience that anyone can take advantage of while creating a separate product with more capabilities for iOS devices.
In truth companies that try to deliver only on the baseline of capabilities end up doing less than they otherwise could. Why hold back features that are available today because they are not uniformly available across platforms? Why hold life-saving capabilities back because it takes longer to deliver them in a cross platform manner (let’s say because there’s twice as much testing involved, so releases are longer)? Why not just pick one platform to start so that at least one community of users gets more than the baseline experience?
Reality kinda makes these questions somewhat irrelevant (regardless of how interesting they may or may not be).
Uh, it’s already happening
Which means the real question is: Are you coming or are you being left behind?
Famzoo is a modern personal finance app focused on family financing. One would think that kids have cheap phones, but it turns out that (in the US) most teens use iPhones.
Famzoo is not quite mainstream (it’s a good service though, you should check it out!). But Boston Childrens’ Hospital is big league. How can they get away with an iOS only strategy?
Why is it happening?
It’s well known that iOS device owners spend more, so from a business perspective you want to get to the revenue. To do that, you’ll have to win it with the best experience possible.
There is also more platform fragmentation (than what was experienced for desktop computing) because the mobile and wearable market is large enough to support multiple platform “winners”. These days, we’ve gone beyond multiple platforms (iOS, Android) to significant new technologies that simply make cross-platform impossible (Steve is former Microsoft Executive responsible for Office):
AR by itself isn’t a platform but it is precisely the kind of platform feature that makes cross-platform impossible. https://t.co/A8NqOSIvq5
— 🧘🏻♂️Steven Sinofsky ॐ (@stevesi) August 30, 2017
What does it mean to deliver the best experience possible?
Well, for one thing, it means quickly delivering on the latest features when a platform change is available. (Think iPhone X screen) Not only does this keep your app looking polished, it signals to your audience that you care and are responsive to their needs and desires. [link to my post on do you support the latest device]What does it mean to deliver the best experience possible? Click To Tweet
It also means delivering the best possible capabilities, something not always possible when trying to build cross-platform capabilities. Developers can do more when there is tight integration and a dedication to taking advantage of the latest features. Recently Target tried to answer IKEA with an augmented reality app of their own, and delivered a cross platform solution instead of focusing on just iOS like IKEA. It didn’t work out so well.
What’s more important these days? Something that works on all platforms and never looks right to your customers, or an app that, say, is so well written that it uses less battery than competitors (even if no one knows but the development team)*?
* This article refers to an old article just to make a point about how sloppy coding can lead to worse battery performance.