Could Android really be more stable than iOS?

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When I first read the Fortune article and reviewed the data proclaiming that Android apps are more stable than Apple’s iOS apps, my initial reaction was, how could this be? Especially when 97 percent of mobile malware is on Android. Then I started to think about how this could possibly be true, and looked to my own iOS experiences to make some sense of this.

Defensive programing on Android

To start, Android has always been a fragmented platform, and as a result, developers are more likely to write what is called defensive code to deal with the fragmentation. Basically, they write their apps to be comparable with a wide range of OS versions in mind. With iOS releases coming out in a methodic, almost clockwork fashion, and an iOS community that adopts new OS versions so rapidly, developers can better plan updates in their release schedule, provided they are still actively developing the app.

iOS 7 updates still pending

As a personal observation, I have purchased over 2,000 apps since July 10, 2008, the day the app store first opened: 2,313 to be exact. Of the 2,313 apps in my personal iTunes library, only 1,176 have been updated since iOS 7 was launched to the public on September 18th 2013. That leaves roughly 49 percent of all apps in my library that potentially have not been updated to support iOS 7.

Stale apps in app library

Looking at data from 148apps.biz, 383,602 of the 1,539,342 apps that have been available on the app store are no longer active. That is almost 25 percent of all apps created for iOS are no longer available in the App Store. Many of these apps however are still “alive” in one’s iTunes app library and can still be synced and installed onto individuals iPhones, and iPads.

ROI for independents

Given the fact that most iOS publishers don’t make that much money, some as little as $500 a month, one can begin to understand why such a high percentage of apps have either been abandoned or pulled from the app store completely. Especially when costs to update to iOS 7, the most impactful release in iOS history, forced many developers to drop what they were doing and plan for the update accordingly.

So it just may be that iOS 7 was the perfect storm: a predictable release schedule, fast user adoption, low financial returns on initial development, and a major update that caused significant time and effort from the developers to accommodate. So I for one tend to believe that there just may be a higher number of crashes on iOS at this particular point in time than on Android. We’ll see if that continues.

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