If your app is not designed for Google's Android platform, it probably ought to be. According to a new study released by Canalys, an independent analysis firm, about 80 percent of the roughly one billion smartphones shipped in 2013 ran Android, up from 68 percent in 2012.
The study mirrors another released this week from Strategy Analytics, which found Android similarly dominating the smartphone space in 2013, while Apple iOS's market share fell to 15.5 percent, from 19.4 percent in 2012. Microsoft's Windows Phone finished in a distant third place, with 3.6 percent of the market.
So, what's the takeaway of all this data for app developers? Start innovating for Android or else.
For a long time, Android was considered the underdog, while Apple's iOS platform was where you went when you wanted to make money on software. Now there are plenty of reasons to develop for both, or in some cases, only for Android.
For starters, Apple is notorious for its strict development cycle, scrutinizing apps before effectively forcing developers to submit a complete version, often before any users have tried it.
In contrast, Google is only too happy to let developers submit unfinished versions of their Android apps--and release one version after another until they work flawlessly. Beyond that, it's easier to stand out on Android, where customers are "starved for beautiful apps," owing to the sheer number of so-so ones floating around, writes Inc.'s Erik Sherman.