As this is the first blog entry for Five Faces, I figured I would kick things off with a highly controversial topic that comes up quite often when we at Five Faces are discussing the use of tablets (iPad is a tablet folks!) in-store. The big question – to choose Apple or Android.
It is no secret that I am not the biggest fan of Apple, and for no other reason than Apple makes it painfully difficult to develop for them, particular when customers give us challenges that are a little above and beyond the intended purpose for it. Correction – I should say, Apple makes it painfully difficult to develop for them without voiding warranty (jail-breaking) in order to meet customer requirements.
By contrast, Android is extremely easy to develop and configure for, and the open source community make it a breeze to solve some pretty incredible challenges. Furthermore, there are so many off the shelf tools to configure the Android system, that very little falls outside its capabilities.
So if you are thinking about putting tablets in-store to increase customer engagement, or as an ordering system for hospitality, or even a kids games area to engage the little ones, here are some things to think about before you go ‘bobbing for an Apple’:
- Developing for Android is cheaper and faster then developing for Apple. There are fewer restrictions, less rules and far more flexibility. I have seen quotes for Apple Apps come in at twice as much as Android to achieve the same thing!
- Android tablets last longer in public environments. We see more Apple iPads come back to us broken then we do Android tablets – even the old ones like the Motorola Xoom get great mileage
- Locking down an iPad is currently impossible without hiding the Home button on the iPad. Even then, the feature set (iPad Configuration Utility) provided by Apple is lacking. This means you either need to buy specific case/mountings that hides the home button, or more clever customers can find their way around your application. Locking down an Android is viable and straightforward.
- Yes, there are more Apps on Apple then Android, but nearly all Apps that are popular will release on both platforms within months of each other.
- Android devices are cheaper then Apple devices. Might not mean much for one site – but start looking at large networks of 2-300, and it does add up.
So unless there is some need for it, remember that the experience of the customer is in the content you are displaying and the interaction they have with it. There is minimal difference between the two platforms from a hardware perspective, so beyond your personal allegiance, it is hard to see any key advantage Apple has over the cheaper, more reliable and easier to work with Android platform.
As a side note – be aware that there are many platforms now which allow you to develop mobile applications that are compatible across both Android and Apple devices. You don’t always have to pay twice!
Yazz is the founder and Managing Director of Five Faces, and has been working with retailers on their digital in-store, mobile and social media strategy for over 5 years. Five Faces specialises in technology solutions that blur the lines between Online, Social Media and In-Store. Find out more about us at http://www.fivefaces.com.au.