App un-discovery

Why Outlook for mobile is a hit on iOS and a miss on Android

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Talk about an app store dichotomy: Microsoft’s new version of Outlook is a chart-topper on iPhones but a big miss on Android handsets based on their respective app stores. Of course, this is just one day after the company released what used to be Accompli for iOS and Android, so the situation is bound to change over time. Still, it’s an interesting look at the iOS and Android platforms when it comes to new apps and user behaviors.

When I checked the iTunes App Store this morning, I saw that [company]Microsoft[/company] Outlook was the No. 15 app in the list of Top Free iPhone Apps, just ahead of Google’s Gmail. I can’t tell how many downloads it has seen because [company]Apple[/company] doesn’t provide those figures.

outlook itunes app store

I then looked at the Top Free Apps in the [company]Google[/company] Play Store, expecting to see a similar positive reception for the Outlook preview. It was nowhere to be found, and the list shows the top 300 free apps.

outlook on android

I know the app is in the Play Store because I installed it on my Moto X last night. So I did a quick search in the Play Store for Outlook and found it tucked in among other apps that have Outlook in their name or have to do with email. Google does share download numbers, or at least ranges of them, and here’s how Outlook is faring on Android: It has between 1,000 and 5,000 downloads. Maybe folks are happy with their Gmail app?

Frankly, I don’t get it.

Perhaps the Play Store figures don’t update as frequently as the iTunes App Store, but there are also a few other possibilities. And to be clear: I don’t think one of them is that Outlook is a bad or poorly written app. In the short time I’ve used it, I’m extremely impressed: The interface is clean, there are smart actions based on swiping an email (including the scheduling of an event and archiving a message), there’s a great integrated calendar and the app seamlessly allows for attachments from cloud services such as OneDrive and Dropbox.

The bigger problem here may be app discovery. That search for Outlook yielded these results with the app showing farther down than Dropbox’s Mailbox app, for example.

outlook in play store

It shouldn’t be this difficult to find the app in the Play Store. I’m also wondering if the majority of Android users flock to the latest and greatest apps as quickly as iPhone users do.

Anecdotal evidence suggests this because of  iOS user engagement for example, and more app downloads per device. I’ll be doing some digging for data on the latter point as I haven’t seen any recent information on apps per device; back in 2013, Asymco’s Horace Dediu wrote that there were an average of 83 apps on a typical iOS device but just 53 per Android device. That has likely changed, but based on my own observations, my iOS friends typically have more apps installed than my peers with Android phones. And in December, Chitika Insights released quarterly data showing iOS accounting for 46 percent of app usage and 52.5 percent of web usage on devices in North America.

Regardless of the reasons, it’s a shame to see that Android users haven’t jumped on the new Outlook app the way iPhone owners have. It’s a well-written app that could displace Google’s own Gmail app for many people — if they know about it, that is.

47 Responses to “Why Outlook for mobile is a hit on iOS and a miss on Android”

  1. Peds Lim

    I am contented with Gmail and Inbox. So why the hell would I download the Outlook app? Gmail and Inbox works for me. So I think it is not just the app is not discovered easily in Android, Android users are contented with the existing apps in Android.

  2. Bill Soistmann

    In my opinion, iOS are always on the lookout for a better email client. I use both iOS and Android and I have found several email clients for Android I like, and before Outlook I did not have one on iOS.

  3. James Katt

    Outlook on Android is not as popular as Outlook on iOS simply because Outlook requires a Microsoft Office365 or Office365 for Business subscription. This costs about $99 a year per user.

    So it looks like a lot of Android Users simply don’t have the money to subscribe to Office365.

      • elmondohummus

        I’ll bet he’s referring to the Android setup splash screen where it says the minimum requirements are an Office365 account. That confused me too at first, until I noticed that there was no such requirement on iOS. And there ended up being no issue setting it up for our corporate Exchange server.

        That’s not a good thing for the app to advertise, and I don’t know why it does it, but it *is* just a preview I guess.

  4. Personally, I do not like the email client built in to Android 4.4.4, and am currently using K-9 Mail, which, in my opinion, is a big improvement over built-in. It would be great if Outlook could become my email client, but it doesn’t appear ready, in its current iteration. It is nice that contacts and calendar are built-in to Outlook, though. Craig Herberg

  5. Wayne Dawe

    Searching for outlook for android results in the owa app, you have to search for outlook preview. It seems that Google had buried the outlook preview so it’s not surprising that there is slow uptake on android. In my opinion the outlook for android preview is a better option than Google inbox.


    Apparently everyone is not really reading Kevins article. Here is the jist of what Accompli now Outlook does. It takes your email schedule and contacts and uses a big data cloud machine to organize all your stuff so it’s like having a super cluster computers power to organize all your stuff and your phone is just the display device for your organized data. Exchange is horrendously slow at searching for things which makes Microsoft picking up the company a major coup for Microsoft. If Microsoft can square up the security this is a major game changing tool that is leaps and bounds better than anything out there. From reading the threads you guys aren’t getting it. I have 7278 emails across 9 accounts on my phone needless to say I get a lot of email. I have close to 20GB of mail from all those accounts. So maybe not everyone can see the power of this tool but I can.

  7. snuggles

    I downloaded it but thought that it being a Microsoft piece of software, I’ll let other people beat it to death and use it when they release the next bugfix.

    • elmondohummus

      Hate to say it, but my own testing confirms some of what Winkelmeyer wrote. Also, there are commenters in his blog that have noted that the app won’t confirm to server-pushed ActiveSync policy, and that’ll kill it’s chances in the enterprise unless the developers fix a lot of the problems. If you cannot get a device to accept remote wipe through Outlook Web Access, if you cannot push an encryption and password requirement to that device, then there are organizations out there that’ll have no choice but to block it. Don’t know if they’re right about that or not, but I’ll find out this coming work week when we continue testing.

      Anyway, between that issue, the external storage of credentials, and external downloading and storage of messages and attachments, I have to agree with The Register: The security was done stupidly.

      Shame, too; I liked it’s functionality. It’s nice to have the calendar within the app, like the desktop version of Outlook does. And it looked like it did a pretty good job with Dropbox. Box, Google Drive, etc. If it didn’t make all those security foobars, I’d be happy to use the app.

  8. Stephen Cooke

    There is no need for it, Android manages email very well, either via the native exchange sync, native pop handling or Gmail. iOS is shocking at these and needs something like the Outlook app.


      Apparently you hadn’t read the article. Microsoft had acquired Accompli which is an email and calendaring organizer add on on steroids. I was deeply saddened when I heard Microsoft had bought them out. Not sure if the security problems were there before or after Microsoft took them over. Either way it doesn’t look like I will be using it. Namely #1 Microsoft took them over #2 The security problems
      Maybe if they fix the security I’ll give it a second look.

      So no Android’s standard mail client doesn’t compare.

  9. does the outlook app support push notifications for gmail? I use cloudmagic SPECIFICALLY for the gmail push. native ios app won’t do push for gmail anymore unless you have a google business account.

    If outlook on ios does do push for all accounts. May be a reason it’s getting so much love ?

  10. The gmail app, or Inbox for that matter, on android is very good and I don’t need an app to displace it. I tried Outlook today and contacts do not sync with my phone as others have pointed out. I use Touchdown for exchange connectivity and in my opinion, it is far superior to the Outlook app.

  11. App discovery may be an issue, but the fact that the existing Gmail app meets my needs is the clincher. I did find and download the Outlook app, but quickly found that it will not connect to hybrid Office 365/premise Exchange servers (GMail will, by the way) and that you cannot easily move between messages while reading. The app is not fully baked yet, at least for Android.

    The discovery issue is actually Microsoft’s fault. They own the trademark for Outlook; they shuold be protecting its use by others. The fact that they allowed other apps to squat on their name isn’t Google’s fault.

  12. Even after setting the option to delete emails from the server on the default iOS app, it would never delete the emails on the server after deleting the emails from my iPhone. I always had to clean up my inbox twice, once on my phone and once from the website. For me, this app was a must have. It’s a bonus that it’s also a very good one. I’ve deleted outlook/hotmail from my default iOS mail app and am only using the outlook app.

  13. brianpadams

    Also, the app on Android doesn’t integrate with the native Contacts and Calendar. So no SMS or dialing Contacts and seeing your day at a glance isn’t possible without visiting multiple apps. I don’t know how iOS does it, but this is expected on Android and Windows Phone. The native email client on Android allows you to sync and centralize Email, Calendar, and Contacts. I could live with different apps for my email, and to an extent, even the Calendar, but an app that doesn’t sync Contacts and make them available to the dialer and SMS/Messaging features is an app I can’t use.

    • Richard Cranium

      This is exactly the reason. All of the other people that are assuming it is because Apple is accepted in corporate environments and Android is not are just full of themselves.
      I am for the most part happy with the standard email client on Android except the annoyingly long wait for an email to delete before moving to the next message.
      Outlook needs to be able to sync Contacts and Calendar and have them available outside and inside the app.
      And as for the comment that Apple does this at the O/S level, so does Android, with the stock mail, contacts and calender.

  14. Byron Bennett

    I wonder if it is b/c Outlook is more of a business/enterprise user app. If the % of iOS users that are “business” users is > than the % of Android users that are business users, that might skew the # of downloads. Kids aren’t likely to be downloading Outlook. People that use Outlook all days as their #1 productivity tool probably are. I’d guess the % of desktop Outlook users is significantly higher on iOS than Android. The same reason iOS sees more ecommerce than Android. Different audiences?

    I don’t have numbers…it’s just my guess, but maybe somebody has numbers?

    • George Nostej

      This is exactly it. Suprising it took more than 15 posts for someone to lay out the actual reason. iPads dominate corporations. Market share at least 80% vs Android tablets. Same with monetization on phones. iPhone monetizes 3 to 1 vs Android. Android has the bottom end of the market where people don’t pay hundreds of dollars per year for Microsoft subscriptions to connect to Microsoft Exchange backends. This is not bias, this is reality and readily available data shows this.

  15. My biggest and only reason to not download is, “I don’t need it”. Probably sometime later, I can install to “just to see”. GMail has taken over. I have email account too. But I seldom use it.

  16. The Gmail app on Android is excellent, that’s why Android users don’t need to use a bunch of 3rd party email app. On the other hands, email app on ios sucks. I know this blog is Apple biased, but come on, man.

  17. I have gmail or the built in client I never use because gmail let’s me use other accounts too. Why would I want a third and why, if I did, would I even consider Microsoft. I literally only use their software when I’m paid to.

  18. You got it right – it’s a discovery issue on Android. No problem finding it on IOS but when I went to Playstore there are web apps and other apps with Outlook in the name. It was buried in there. Took two searches to find including going back to one of the articles reviewing it to find a link.