Shift Jelly developer, Russell Ivanovic, shared some insights on the breakdown of Pocket Casts users on Android.
First of all, Android version adoption numbers.
Developers should spend an overwhelming amount of their time developing and shipping products for Android 4.1 “Jellybean” – Android 4.4 “KitKat” because that’s where the users are right? Well, it depends.
Pocket Casts specific Android adoption numbers (ie. what versions of Android are my users running).
My lone Android application, NC Traffic Cams, Android adoption numbers.
So while Android 5.0 has less than 1% adoption in the overall Android eco-system, 23% of our customers already run it. This makes sense when you put a bit of thought into these numbers. People that have the money to buy apps, and are passionate about Android, have up to date phones. While some users who run Android 2.3 on their 5 year old phone might be perfectly happy, they probably weren’t ever going to buy Pocket Casts. It’s also worth noting that Pocket Casts sells in much larger volumes (and makes more revenue) than any numbers I’ve seen for an equivalent iOS app. We’ve slowly moved our minimum version from 2.3, to 4.0, to 4.1 and it hasn’t hurt sales at all.
I, 100%, agree with Rusty.
Android adoption numbers, provided by Google, are only relevant if your target customers include ALL Android users. This is rarely the case. I’d imagine only a very few developers and companies can afford to target all Android users as customers for their apps and services (depending on the complexity of their apps, most in this group are large public corporations or venture backed startups ie. the Facebooks, Twitters, Instagrams, and Ubers of the world who aim for ubiquity). Android is such a huge market (1 billion devices sold in 2014) that there are bound to be smaller, profitable, niche markets available. Enthusiast and indie developers need to spend sometime identifying these smaller, niche markets before starting on new products.
While building NC Traffic Cams, a relatively simple product, I essentially targeted Android users who were interested in North Carolina traffic imagery. I wasn’t using the latest and greatest APIs because my priority was providing visual traffic information to as many Android users as possible. Early on, I used libraries (ActionSherlock, Google Play Services, etc.) that made it easy for me to provide a consistent user experience across various versions of Android (at that time, starting at Android 2.1). I eventually dropped support for Android 2.1 and 2.2 because the Google Play Services library eventually dropped support for these versions.
I, of course, did not completely follow my latest insights with regards to my current project, PremoFM. In the beginning, I identified, at a very-high-level, business-diagram-type-of-way, the customers I am targeting, but I failed to identify the specific profile of Android users I am targeting until midway through the project. For example, I targeted Android customers running Android 4.0 through to Android 5.0 (I at least had enough foresight to cut out Gingerbread support). Then I began writing code and realized how many specific APIs weren’t available on older versions of Android. I was definitely on the road to a bad user experience and high support costs, given my real life constraints (one person, doing this in my free time). I took a step back and asked a few questions, some of them being:
- How much effort or time am I willing to sacrifice to provide support to users with older devices (fixing bugs specific to these version, etc.)?
- What versions of Android will allow me to provide the best user experience possible?
- Are there enough paying customers using older versions of Android to make supporting these versions worthwhile?
In the end, it’s all about establishing your priorities (and more importantly, de-prioritizing other things!). The time you spend working on XYZ will mean you won’t have that time to work on ABC.
As an side, it would be really interesting to see general data on which types of users spend the most money and what versions of Android they use. My guess is pretty consistent with Android adoption numbers provided by Russell.
-> How New Versions of Android Work @ RustysRants