Peter Vesterbacka, the “Mighty Eagle” of Angry Birds developer Rovio, says that Apple’s iOS will remain the preferred platform for developers in the future, citing “fragmentation” in the Android marketplace as a major drawback for Google’s competing mobile OS.
“Apple will be the number one platform for a long time from a developer perspective, they have gotten so many things right,” Vesterbacka said in an interview with Tech N’ Marketing. “Android is growing, but it’s also growing [in] complexity at the same time. Device fragmentation [is] not the issue, but rather the fragmentation of the ecosystem. So many different shops, so many different models.”
Vesterbacka’s iOS versus Android comparison mildly echoes concerns raised by Steve Jobs during a rant-heavy conference call that took place back in October. Vesterbacka briefly touched on the Mr. Job’s thoughts about Android saying, “Steve is absolutely right when he says that there are more challenges for developers when working with Android.”
The Finland-based Rovio has garnered over 50 million downloads of Angry Birds (although Vesterbacka notes that figure doesn’t include record breaking holiday downloads). According to the interview, an astounding 200 million minutes fall victim to Angry Birds’ addicting gameplay globally daily.
Angry Birds’ success has prompted a line of toys based on the game’s characters and compelled Rovio to pursue versions of the game for video game consoles. Even Wall Street-types have been moved to use game’s birds as symbols to represent the profitability of the growing mobile app industry.
Angry Birds was first released for the iOS in December of 2009 and launched for the Android OS in October 2010, scoring over a million downloads in its first 24 hours of availability. Despite the success, Vesterbacka remains pessimistic about Android’s appeal for developers. In November, Rovio apologized for performance issues with the Android version of Angry Birds citing fragmentation as cause for the difficulties.
Another disincentive for developers, Vesterbacka says, is that it is hard for developers to get paid for their work under the Android system. Angry Birds is currently offered for the Android as a free app, but is supported by ads while the full iOS version is offered as an ad-free version for $0.99.
“Free is the way to go with Android” Vesterbacka says. “Nobody has been successful selling content on Android. We will offer a way to remove the ads by paying for the app, but we don’t expect that to be a huge revenue stream.”
Vesterbacka says that app developers will eventually figure out how to work with the Android OS, but for now “nobody else will be able to build what Apple has built, there just isn’t that kind of market power out there.”