Side-Effects of not Launching with Android

The recent launch of Vine made me wonder why a big company with plenty of resources wouldn’t launch with Android support. While I think there are tons of merits to being lean and getting one platform out there, not launching with cross-platform support has some nasty side-effects, especially¬†when the other platform is the largest market percentage.

Even when you later release an Android app, here’s what happens:

  1. Android users have already accepted that they can’t use your app. Getting users to install your app at peak hype is great. If you release an Android version even a month later, I’m likely way less interested in playing around with it, because I’ve already seen other people use it, have an understanding of it, and it lacks freshness and excitement. I can’t be an early adopter? I don’t want to join late to the game.
  2. Android users may never know you now support Android. One of your biggest moments of PR is likely product launch. One of your smallest is probably the same exact features on another platform. Unless your Android support is somehow a huge story that gets written up on every tech blog like your launch, I’ll probably never see it and will never know I can begin using it, even if I¬†am really excited about it.

Both of these happened to me with Instagram. When I first heard about it, it sounded cool, so I looked for it on the Android market and realizing it wasn’t there, made a sad face and went on with my life. I didn’t find about their Android support until much later (unless you set up a Google Alert for “instagram android”, I’m not sure how you would), and by then the hype was gone and being such a late adopter wasn’t nearly as interesting.

On a higher level, this probably creates a negative feedback loop for non-iOS platform shares. These factors mean you engage a lower percent of Android users, biasing its share. This leads to others looking at that data and using it to validate an even more delayed Android launch, and so on.

Of course, this applies primarily to the mobile phone space. Some apps have released only for iPad, and as the Android tablet space doesn’t seem as mature and doesn’t have nearly the market, that decision seems reasonable. What do you think?