App alternatives: A brave new world of options

There was a time, not so long ago, when publishing was in the hand of publishers. That was a time when you might have had a great idea for a video game and no way to get it out there. Maybe you had a brilliant idea for a book and no way to publish it without spending thousands of your hard earned dollars to get it printed. Well, the app market has made quite clear that that’s not the case anymore. Today, if you have the means to download and use an app, then you have the means to create and publish one. In other words, there’s no excuse not to develop that idea you’ve been kicking around all month.

Now, jumping in with both feet right now might be a fun way to get started, and if you have the time and energy, then by all means, go for it, experiment and see what happens. For those of us with jobs, bills to pay and less free time than perhaps we’d like to have in a day, there are some things we’re going to want to know before we get started, beginning with a quick breakdown of each development platform:

iOS

Developing for iOS gives you one of the biggest advantages available in app development. Some might even call this the greatest advantage of all: iOS devices are the Coca Cola of the smartphone and tablet world. Even with the substantial market share belonging to the Android, the iPhone remains the phone we refer to when we talk about smartphones. This is a tremendous advantage, but for some developers, it’s outweighed by the fact that iOS apps need to be approved by Apple before they make it into the app store, and the large market share itself is a mixed blessing.

Name brand recognition of the iPhone means that you have access to a greater market share, but it also means that you’re going to have that much more competition. If you want to create a music sequencing app, for instance, there are already dozens on the iPhone to compete with, if not hundreds. It’s very easy to get lost in the crowd when developing for iOS.

Android

The open source nature of Android development and publishing is a major draw. Here you have complete creative freedom to develop whatever type of apps you please. Some of the stuff you’ll find on Android is just plain weird, but if there’s a market for it, then there’s a market for it.

Windows

Windows is a flexible and powerful development platform with a large market share, but many developers are turned off by the archaic interface. Simply put, Windows for phones and portable devices simply isn’t up to speed with iOS, Android and Brew.

Brew

Brew is an innovative new platform that is actually not so much for smartphones as for feature phones, mass market devices that, thanks to Brew, can be used to operate in a similar manner to a typical smartphone. This is fairly cutting edge and while you may well find a niche within a very big market here, the idea is as yet still a very novel concept in app development. Essentially, Brew makes the app market accessible for everyone, whether or not they can afford a three hundred dollar status symbol. Brew provides heavy support for developers in the form of user-friendly SDKs, and they offer virtual testing for various devices. Disappointingly, though not unsurprisingly, although the feature phone market remains large, there is not a real financial incentive for small app developers to launch on Brew. Facebook has means and incentive for putting the money and effort into building a feature phone application, but unless you’re a multimillion dollar developer that has a genius app idea for the developing world, chances are you won’t be touching Brew.

The bottom line is really that there’s no “best” platform on which to launch your app. Brew offers a new piece of the market that hasn’t been explored very deeply, which means an opportunity to plant a flag of your own on new horizons. iOS offers the largest market, meaning the highest possible sales, and so on. Every platform has its advantages, and it’s important to determine which one fits your project the best.