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Monday, February 03, 2014

Apps no longer differentiator in iOS vs. Android war, services next battleground

By Mikey Campbell


A new study from investment bank Piper Jaffray suggests app quality on
Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems has
equalized, pushing the two tech giants toward a race for better built-in
Source: Piper Jaffray
In a note issued to investors on Monday, Piper Jaffray
analyst Gene Munster said his checks of the top 200 paid and free apps
on the iOS App Store and Google Play revealed comparable app quality and
consumer experience between the two rival operating systems. As such,
apps are no longer a "point of differentiation," having become an
expected feature for modern smartphones.

"The app ecosystem has
transitioned to where it no longer matters how many apps each OS has,
but rather the satisfaction the user gets out of them," Munster writes.
"Going forward we can compare where the apps were and where they
currently stand from a user's perspective."

In the test, Munster
compared star ratings for the top 200 apps on the iOS and Android app
stores. The study found a a huge discrepancy in number of reviews for
paid and free apps for each platform. Users of paid iOS apps returned
6.1 million reviews or ratings compared to 3.4 million for Android. For
free apps, Android led with 61.9 million reviews, while iOS users put in
26.7 million.

Looking at the crossover from the top 200 apps,
38 paid and 74 free titles were found on both platforms. Aggregating
scores from these common apps, Android averaged a 4.28 rating, while iOS
netted a similar 4.16 average.
Munster believes the data to be a result of high iOS user engagement for
paid content, which suggests better returns for developers. Even so,
the analyst thinks developers are creating apps for both platforms
regardless of monetization opportunities. The bigger point is that
customers appear to be happy with each store's content, Munster notes.

is unclear if the study took into account the types of users who leave
ratings as such feedback is an opt-in feature for both platforms.

app parity, the new battleground, says Munster, is in value-added
services like Siri and Google Now, both of which are deeply integrated
into their respective platforms. Here, too, the analyst found a nearly identical experience,
meaning the competition will likely extend beyond virtual digital
assistants. The iPhone 5s' TouchID and Google's voice-activation feature
are examples of this new front.

Munster sees 2014 as an
opportunity for Apple to launch a "game changing" service in a payments
platform unique to iOS, but stops short in detailing possible plans.

mere speculation, Apple could aggressively roll out iBeacons and extend
Passbook support to include credit cards. Apple executives have so far
taken a "go slow" approach to so-called "e-wallets," though key hardware
and software pieces are falling into place that may foreshadow a more
concerted effort in the mobile payments space.

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