Flappy Bird and Facebook Paper Show Apple Still Dominates Google’s Android Where it Matters Most

Flappy Bird, the hit mobile game, was -- until last week -- only available for Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iOS. Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) Paper, the new app from the social networking giant, remains an Apple exclusive for the time being.

Although Apple's iPhone has long lost the global market share battle to Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Android, iOS remains the premiere platform for mobile developers. While that remains true, Apple shareholders have nothing to worry about.

Developers still favor iOS
Flappy Bird and Facebook Paper are just two examples of mobile developers prioritizing Apple's platform. There are countless others -- from Tinder to Mailbox to Instagram -- but Flappy Bird and Facebook are particularly notable.

What stands out about Flappy Bird, the mobile game that seems to be taking the world by storm, was the country where it originates: Vietnam. Not that I have anything against Vietnamese video game creators, but it's interesting that a game studio based in a developing market would favor iOS over Android.

According to IDC, Google's mobile operating system absolutely dominates Vietnam -- more than 82% of the smartphones shipped to Vietnam in the second quarter of last year ran some form of Google's operating system, while Apple's iPhones represented fewer than 2% of the smartphones in the country.

Facebook, in contrast, is a $150 billion corporation in California, with more than enough resources to develop for any platform it chooses. Facebook is no stranger to Android, launching Facebook Home on Google's platform last year. Still, it hasn't yet ported Paper to Android.

Unlike Facebook Home (which wouldn't have been possible on Apple's platform), there's nothing to stop Facebook from bringing Paper to Android. I'm sure it will in time, given all the rave reviews it's received, but for now, it hasn't bothered. According to TechRadar, Facebook Paper was the project of a small, internal dev team -- one with limited resources. It's hardly surprising, but still quite telling, that they chose to invest their limited resources in Apple's iOS.

There's danger in dwindling market share
Yet, longer term, Apple shareholders should still be concerned about the company's market share. Apple's domination of developed markets (particularly the US and Japan) gives it enough pull to entice developers -- for now.

But as other markets grow in importance, the dynamics of the app economy could shift, putting Apple at a severe disadvantage. It should be noted that Facebook Paper remains a US exclusive for the time being. If Facebook decides to take the app overseas, I'm sure it will be in the form of an Android version. Other app creators, who've wanted to market to consumers around the world, have been forced to release for Android -- in the US, Plants vs Zombies 2 wasn't released on Android until last October; Chinese gamers with Android handsets could play it in July.

Having access to apps, and having access to them first, is a key selling point of Apple's platform. As long as it continues to receive the best apps before Google's Android, Apple shareholders need not fear iOS becoming marginalized by Google's massive platform.

But if that trend ever changes -- watch out.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2014, at 5:28 PM, deasystems wrote:

    Yes, if that ever changes—watch out!

    And if your aunt had balls, watch out there too—you'll have to refer to her as "uncle."

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2014, at 10:44 PM, TommyNorris wrote:

    Pretty pointless article. So what if apps come out on iOS first? All that matters is who's wallet is fatter in the end. You get so much for free on Android that you would otherwise have to pay for on iOS... so who really cares? That's why I had to laugh when someone wrote an article that more content is "bought" on the Apple App Store than other platforms. What does that really tell you? It tells you that iSheep don't mind losing their fortune a dollar at a time. Ultimately, the novelty of iOS devices will wear out... just like the last time Steve Jobs was gone (kicked out) from Apple.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2014, at 11:06 PM, hahn73 wrote:

    @TommyNorris

    Okay, so let's pretend you're an app developer. You have a great idea for an app that you're sure a lot of people are going to love, but it will take you a year to make it. So you have to decide which platform you're going to devote your time to. Would you rather give the app away to people who expect everything for free, or sell the app to people who you know are willing to pay you a fair price?

  • Report this Comment On February 12, 2014, at 1:59 PM, wildeweasel wrote:

    Really this is what passes for articles here? Did you even think about doing any research before you start writing. Flappy birds is and has be available on Android for some time as well as Flappy everything else in the book. My daughter installed it on my Samsung galaxy tab a while ago and I haven't gotten around to deleting it which is the only reason i know it exists..

    The reason games and apps would be released on IOS first is because it is a closed architecture system meaning you know in advance what you are dealing with and the number of variations are small or nonexistent. The time and effort of testing and debugging even simple software for open architecture is a lot greater. The number of apps on both platforms is about equal so that tells you that most apps are present on both platforms even with the increased difficulty in programming for android based devices.

    @hahn73

    Stop sucking on the Apple core for a second and you will realize that even though there are cheaper Android phones out there there are also high end devices as well. Many people decide to buy Android devices for reasons other than cost. It is nice that you can buy a low end smart phone for $50 if you need or want to but many people just prefer the choices offered with Android. The developers still make money enough to continue making apps but as most of the kids in the US own iPhones there really isn't as much call for games on Android.

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