Targeting iOS First in the Enterprise

Scott Francis
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A new blog post from Forrester‘s Frank Gillett inadvertently illustrates why it makes sense to focus on iOS first when building mobile apps for the enterprise.  Already 1 in 5 (20%) of the global workforce is using Apple products (for work)!
Have you noticed an increased presence of Apple products in public spaces and workspaces in the last few years? Turns out that 21% of information workers are using one or more Apple products for work. Almost half of enterprises (1000 employees or more) are issuing Macs to at least some employees – and they plan a 52% increase in the number of Macs they issue in 2012.
But that’s just Macs.  The numbers are actually more stark for iPads and iPhones. 11% of the workforce using iPhones, 9% using iPads, and 8% using Macs.  The trends are most highly supported by execs and managers – who use Apple products at twice the average rate (over 40%), and with the youngest workers, who also use Apple products at twice the rate.  Great trends for Apple products in the work place.  Think about that – you can reach the most influential members of business – 40% of them and growing – via Apple product-focus. So the debate of which mobile OS to target first for your mobile app has been an interesting one.  Last year (actually late 2010) Fred Wilson came down on the side of Android first.  But while this might have been a good “by the numbers” recommendation, there are some subtleties that I would have argued made iOS still the place to start for most mobile apps:
  • iOS device owners spend more money on apps (and content in general).
  • iOS device owner demographics trend toward higher income brackets ( desirable demographics to sell to and advertise to )
  • Apple’s iPhone and iPad had healthy halos around them that made them attractive “launch” vehicles for an app.  Wherever you look at ads for an institutions “mobile app” the premier imagery features a prominent iPhone.  Later on these institutions started including Android phones that look… well, they look just like iPhones anyway.
Finally, regardless of which OS you target first, or even if you’re cross-platform from the beginning, you might as well release on each platform one at a time – and get the press release mileage out of it. Articles like the Forrester article, and of course Apple’s amazing Q4 performance, are reminders that the iOS platform is still the one with cachet, with the halo.  

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