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Scott Blanksteen and Mike Schneider

Mobile apps were the topic on the latest GeekWire radio show and podcast, with our guests, app developer Mike Schneider and AppStoreHQ‘s Scott Blanksteen.

Among other topics, we dissected the current state of the competition between iPhone vs. Android in mobile apps. If you missed the show or just prefer text, continue reading for excerpts from the discussion.

At one point, the iPhone was the king of apps. If you wanted to have all the cool apps, you went to the iPhone. What are you seeing right now? Are the iPhone apps comparable to the Android apps, or is one better than the other in terms of apps?

Mike Schneider: I’m a little biased. I’m definitely in the iPhone camp. I’ve used an iPhone, I’ve used Android phones, and never found them to be quite as good. There’s tons of Android users out there, but my opinion on it — even if the same app exists on Android, I think the iPhone version in most cases is going to be better, a better experience. One example of that is, I’ve (developed) apps on both platforms. Same app, same functionality, they sell better on the iPhone than they do on Android, and to me that tells me that Android users either they’re getting bad experiences with apps and not buying them, or maybe they haven’t been educated the way iPhone users have to open their pocketbooks and start buying.

Scott Blanksteen: Between those two big platforms today, iPhone and Android, they represent about 70 percent of the smartphone market, and this year there will be about 450 million smartphones sold worldwide, so that’s a lot of devices, and they both have a ton of apps. It’s pretty much the case that if you need an app to do something, it exists on iPhone, it exists on Android.

Mike, what is better about the iPhone apps? Can you be more specific?

Mike: I think it’s user experience. Seeing this from a developer standpoint, Apple makes a lot of slick UI available to developers that they can use without having to create it from scratch. So if you want to, when you hit a button, it pulses or animates. It does something cool that makes the app feel more interactive. That’s something that’s pretty easy to do on the iPhone. If you want to do the same effect on Android, you have to write it from scratch, so it’s not going to be quite as compelling.

So we know where Mike stands on this. Scott, if you had the choice, where would you choose to put your dollars now? An Android, or an iPhone, or another platform?

Scott: I carry both on a daily basis, as well as a Windows Phone. I prefer, personally, the iPhone. … Apple has a pretty rigorous testing process and approval process, which a lot of people dislike and as someone who has built apps or had companies build apps it can be frustrating compared to the Android world where as soon as you finish it, or as soon as you update it, you publish it, and it’s out there. At the same time, I would say it actually fits with what Mike said, because the fact that it might take two weeks to be approved means you’re going to spend the time to polish it that much better on the iOS side, because you know, if you miss something, it’s going to take another two weeks before you can fix it, whereas with Android, if you’ve got an issue, tomorrow you can publish a version that fixes the issue. So I think it fits together.

It’s almost like the analogy to reading a blog post vs. reading a magazine or a newspaper story. It’s longer in the cycle but perhaps a better experience in the end.

Scott: One thing that will be very interesting, and we’ve started to see this already with Amazon — they’re applying the same sort of editorial control, vision, standards, to apps on the Android side that Apple does on the iOS side. So while they’re catalog is smaller — I think today it’s 14,000 or 15,000 apps — they tend to be of higher quality than the average Android app, because they’re going through a gate of approval.

Are the opportunities the same these days for people to quit their jobs and really be financially stable making apps for a living?

Mike: I think the opportunities are still there, absolutely. The market is bigger than it’s ever been. It’s more competitive than it was, and the bar is higher, because if you want to have a successful app it’s going to take a bit more work. But all the tools that people need are available, and you don’t need a big team, you don’t need a lot of money to compete successfully in this market.


Listen to the full show below, including our weekly news roundup in the first segment and recommendations for specific Android and iPhone apps in the final segment. Also see our show notes for a list of iPhone and Android apps recommended by Mike and Scott, plus links to the stories we talked about. Also listen directly via this MP3 file.

We’ll be back this weekend with another episode on GeekWire.com and 97.3 KIRO-FM, airing at 7 a.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday — with topics including the latest trends in the PC market, and the wild week in tech news.

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