Apps no longer differentiator in iOS vs. Android war, services next battleground

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2014
A new study from investment bank Piper Jaffray suggests app quality on Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems has equalized, pushing the two tech giants toward a race for better built-in services.



In a note issued to investors on Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said his checks of the top 200 paid and free apps on the iOS App Store and Google Play revealed comparable app quality and consumer experience between the two rival operating systems. As such, apps are no longer a "point of differentiation," having become an expected feature for modern smartphones.

"The app ecosystem has transitioned to where it no longer matters how many apps each OS has, but rather the satisfaction the user gets out of them," Munster writes. "Going forward we can compare where the apps were and where they currently stand from a user's perspective."

In the test, Munster compared star ratings for the top 200 apps on the iOS and Android app stores. The study found a a huge discrepancy in number of reviews for paid and free apps for each platform. Users of paid iOS apps returned 6.1 million reviews or ratings compared to 3.4 million for Android. For free apps, Android led with 61.9 million reviews, while iOS users put in 26.7 million.

Looking at the crossover from the top 200 apps, 38 paid and 74 free titles were found on both platforms. Aggregating scores from these common apps, Android averaged a 4.28 rating, while iOS netted a similar 4.16 average.

Apps


Munster believes the data to be a result of high iOS user engagement for paid content, which suggests better returns for developers. Even so, the analyst thinks developers are creating apps for both platforms regardless of monetization opportunities. The bigger point is that customers appear to be happy with each store's content, Munster notes.

It is unclear if the study took into account the types of users who leave ratings as such feedback is an opt-in feature for both platforms.

With app parity, the new battleground, says Munster, is in value-added services like Siri and Google Now, both of which are deeply integrated into their respective platforms. Here, too, the analyst found a nearly identical experience, meaning the competition will likely extend beyond virtual digital assistants. The iPhone 5s' TouchID and Google's voice-activation feature are examples of this new front.

Munster sees 2014 as an opportunity for Apple to launch a "game changing" service in a payments platform unique to iOS, but stops short in detailing possible plans.

While mere speculation, Apple could aggressively roll out iBeacons and extend Passbook support to include credit cards. Apple executives have so far taken a "go slow" approach to so-called "e-wallets," though key hardware and software pieces are falling into place that may foreshadow a more concerted effort in the mobile payments space.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 79
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,779member
    "The app ecosystem has transitioned to where it no longer matters how many apps each OS has, but rather the satisfaction the user gets out of them,"
    Wasn't that always the case? Anyone who relied on raw counts of apps to prove iOS's superiority was best ignored.
  • Reply 2 of 79
    would what matters be how many people on easy OS buy the apps. If the paid apps are the money makers, and Android has better rated apps, but only 100 people buy, as opposed to 1000 in iOS, which would you rather develop for in the future?
  • Reply 3 of 79
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member

    I thought it was the quality of the customers that distinguished the platforms.

  • Reply 4 of 79
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    The problem with ratings — as we've seen so many times before — is they are compared to other apps on the platform and to the platform and OS itself. Are equivalent apps on the App Store and Google Play stores going to be rated the same way if the comparison is between them directly? In my experience App Store apps look, feel and perform better, and by a wide margin, as a general rule. Even something like Angry Birds (Free) feels better on the iPhone do to inherent benefits of iOS and their SDK over Android with their implementation of the same app.

    crowley wrote: »
    Wasn't that always the case? Anyone who relied on raw counts of apps to prove iOS's superiority was best ignored.

    Well, not always, but it became the case rather fast for Android's smartphone apps as their library grew to a decent size quickly. It's not the case for Blackberry 10 or Android for tablet apps, and I'm not sure about Windows Phone or Amazon Kindle Fire apps.
  • Reply 5 of 79
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,664member
    He's using star ratings as a basis for his "study". Enough said.
  • Reply 6 of 79
    There's a built-in assumption that the concept of "Top 200 apps" is a normalizing basis.

    it's not.

    Shoddy work.
  • Reply 7 of 79
    jonoromjonorom Posts: 293member
    There's a built-in assumption that the concept of "Top 200 apps" is a normalizing basis.

    it's not.

    Shoddy work.

    Agreed. What actually distinguishes the iOS ecosystem is the long tail of tens of thousands of very high quality paid apps.
  • Reply 8 of 79
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,328member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by God of Biscuits View Post



    There's a built-in assumption that the concept of "Top 200 apps" is a normalizing basis.



    it's not.



    Shoddy work.

     

    Most of the "analysts" who weigh in on tech issues don't even seem to grasp the fundamental concepts of their own business. I would have no expectation that they would understand statistical analysis.

  • Reply 9 of 79
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JONOROM View Post





    Agreed. What actually distinguishes the iOS ecosystem is the long tail of tens of thousands of very high quality paid apps.

     

     

    That happens to be the particulars here, but purely academically, even if you didn't know what was being compared, you couldn't say that the top x items of A and the top x items of B were a valid basis for normalizating the data.

  • Reply 10 of 79
    App ratings are based purely on customer expectations. Given the preponderance of rubbish in the Google Play store it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that many android users have lower expectations for their apps.
  • Reply 11 of 79
    Ridiculous study. For example, GG posted a link to an Android music production App with a very high "star" rating in response to my claim Android was useless for audio work. I checked the App out and it was horrible. It was lacking so many basic features that even the worst rated iOS App had. So much for star ratings.

    I'll have to find that thread as it's suddenly relevant.
  • Reply 12 of 79
    starxdstarxd Posts: 128member

    Gene Munster has not one shred of credibility, and this report is a great example of why.  Comparing star ratings between two separate platforms is meaningless.  It is a different set of users, with different expectations, different points of reference, etc. etc.  How idiotic.  

  • Reply 13 of 79
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Average RATINGS have equalized... and we're supposed to take that to mean something about quality?

    In other words, 4 stars on the App Store means exactly the same thing as 4 stars on Google Play, EVEN when the apps in question are entirely different? And this star number, furthermore, is a clear indicator of "quality" and "experience"?

    That's so absurd that even Piper Jaffray must know it. They don't even believe their own report. They can't possibly.
  • Reply 14 of 79

    As far as mobile operating systems go, whatever iOS7 is, Android is something less, a lot less!

  • Reply 15 of 79
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by muppetry View Post

     

    I thought it was the quality of the customers that distinguished the platforms.


    I have a tendency to agree with this.

     

    I've heard that Android users don't bathe. Ghastly stuff! 

  • Reply 16 of 79
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    sigma4life wrote: »
    App ratings are based purely on customer expectations.

    A much better and more succinct statement than I was capable of making. Welcome to the forum.
  • Reply 17 of 79
    512ke512ke Posts: 782member

    Well, Gene Munster was off by 5M phones when he predicted open weekend sales for the 5S and 5C.

     

    Gene Munster had "low expectations" for the iPad Air in November 2013.

     

    Gene Munster predicted an Apple TV every year for several years.

     

    And now what's he saying?  That services not apps matter?

     

    I personally don't listen to anything that Gene Munster has to say.  He has lost all credibility.

     

    Mr. Munster's trying to claim that "channel stuffing" accounting for his 5M error of iPhone sales, was just dishonest and ludicrous.

     

    Look at the upcoming Apple earnings report, and see how Gene's "low expectations" meet with reality for both the iPad Air and the iPhone 5S/5C.

     

    Will he take responsibility for being dead wrong again?  No way.  He's spin it in some way to make it look like he was right lol.  Guaranteed!

  • Reply 18 of 79
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post



    Ridiculous study. For example, GG posted a link to an Android music production App with a very high "star" rating in response to my claim Android was useless for audio work. I checked the App out and it was horrible. It was lacking so many basic features that even the worst rated iOS App had. So much for star ratings.



    I'll have to find that thread as it's suddenly relevant.

    Is this the one you're looking for? It sounded familiar to what you're saying here:

     

    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/159065/canalys-android-lacks-the-rigorously-managed-high-quality-optimized-apps-seen-on-apples-ipad#post_2380918

  • Reply 19 of 79
    I think the analyst comes kind of close to the truth but misses the key points.

    I think that actual and perceived app differentiation makes a difference for SOME of those buying iPhones. Those "some" are the ones that need some of the unique apps only on iPhone and and also the "some" who like the fact that most apps are first or look more polished on iOS. There are also more corporate apps on iPhone. So Apps still do make a few point of share difference for Apple, but they can't rest on this laurel.

    I don't think many people decide based on services like Siri/Now.

    I think a big thing missed by the analyst is the bigger ecosystem. If you have a Mac and iPad then the great integration of iWorks along with iTunes etc. really make iPhone the no brainer. Big Gmail users, can lean to better integration on Android.

    If you are just looking for price, Android will be a frequent choice. Apple can only win the price battle for people signing up for contracts or those smart enough to understand the resale value generally makes them less expensive over their lifetime.

    Apple also wins on design. All their phones just feel better for the client that likes that. Also, the client that just wants the best will generally just perceive Apple to be the brand of choice. On the Android side, lots of technical users will prefer Android due to its customization and their value of the "freedom" of not having to use Apple accessories, etc. They dislike the walled garden and don't mind the complexity.

    On the "app" front, I think that iBeacon can be a game changer in 2014. Lots of related apps rolling out and though some Android phones will support it, since all Apple phones since the 4 support BLE, you will see lots more strength for Apple ecosystem here.
  • Reply 20 of 79
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,331member

    I heard they made wonderful cars and refrigerators in the Soviet Union in the 1960's. Wonderful ratings from all the comrades!

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