Angry Birds creator praises iPhone as a platform, talks Android fragmentation

Angry Birds creator, Peter Vesterbacka, in a recent interview had some fairly positive things to say about Apple and the opportunities they have created for developers with the iPhone and iOS platform. He also gives a short explanation for the price tag for the iOS version versus the free Android version.

Apple will be the number one platform for a long time from a developer perspective, they have gotten so many things right. And they know what they are doing and they call the shots. Android is growing, but it’s also growing complexity at the same time. Device fragmentation not the issue, but rather the fragmentation of the ecosystem. So many different shops, so many different models. The carriers messing with the experience again. Open but not really open, a very Google centric ecosystem. And paid content just doesn’t work on Android.

Vesterbacka was also asked about the ever so famous fragmentation issue that Apple CEO Steve Jobs mentioned during Apples Q3 2010 earnings conference call.

Fragmentation on the device side is not a huge problem, but Steve is absolutely right when he says that there are more challenges for developers when working with Android. But that’s fine, developers will figure out how to work any given ecosystem and as long as it doesn’t cause physical pain, it’s ok;-) Nobody else will be able to build what Apple has built, there just isn’t that kind of market power out there.

That doesn’t mean that model is superior, it’s just important to understand that Apple is Apple and Google is Google. Different. And developers need to understand that. Different business models for different ecosystems. And wouldn’t forget about Nokia and MeeGo either, new leadership always tends to shake things up and create opportunity. And HP-Palm. And RIM. And even Microsoft. It’s a fragmented world.

Do you have a preference for ad-supported vs. paid apps? Do you think Vesterbacka is right and certain platforms demand certain business models, or should you be able to choose free-with-ads or paid on all platforms?

So it appears as if maybe Steve and the rest of the tech industry were right in saying Android is fragmented but maybe it isn't such a big deal to developers as one might think. Do you agree with Peter Vesterbacka saying the iPhone will be the number one platform for a while or do you think Android or another operating system/device over take what Apple has built up?

[ Tech N' Marketing ]

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There are 49 comments. Add yours.

Pimp Lucious says:

Vesterbacka himself states that prefers the Google ad supported model and that it works better for them. Watch the video at the bottom of the article. He is not the only one apparently.
http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/28/2011-android-iphone-apps/

MennoMobile says:

I prefer paid apps without ads, but I can understand why Rovio went with ad based releases for android. Not only is there the issue with not every country getting paid apps, but there is also the problem of getting the app infront of people.
I think they would still have millions of sales by this point if they made the app .99, but nowhere near the downloads they have now, and if the reports are to be believed, they're making a ton of money with the ad based model. (1million/month I believe by years end) That's nothing to sneeze at.

SeeSeanRun says:

....more importantly, where can I get one of those Angry Birds launchers he has in the picture?

Ilovegeorgia says:

@Freaknasty you seem mad. This is a real interview from the maker. The ios system works because millions of people download it every month. while they can only make 1 mill a year for ad version. I mean they said a million people downloaded angry birds for ios on christmas. Also the ads get in the way on the android version.

Shrike says:

Definitely paid apps. The ad-based apps I have basically suck. Unstable. Ads take up about 10 to 20% of the screen (depending on how you count). Sometimes they don't fill in. They slow down the app. The adware in GunBros sticks in my craw. Would rather have paid 3 to 5$ for the app rather the free download.
If the future is ad-supported apps, it's going to suck.

Tallbruva says:

As an Android developer, I agree with just about all that was stated. And what I don't agree with is just personal opinion.
The statement I really latch onto is "paid content just doesn’t work on Android". What's telling is why it doesn't really work. That 24 hour return window. Now it's 15 minutes. Apple doesn't allow returns. So even if you don't like the app, tough. It's yours. I even made one paid app free with ads after being on the market for 2 weeks. Downloads shot up (of course) but ad revenue has been constant and steady. My reasoning was: "Why get a few bucks once when I can get it perpetually?"
He's also right when he says "different" != "superior". This looks like it's going to shake out just like the PC/Mac wars of the 80's & early 90's. Apple was the hardware/OS of choice for graphics. PC's/Windows for business. Both make bazillions of dollars. And eventually, both could do what the other did pretty well. The same will happen here.

Chris says:

I can't stand ads. I'd gladly pay a dollar or two to play a great game that is ad free. Possibly even more depending on the game. When it comes to angry birds, there's no doubt I'll continue to play it and purchase any in app purchase material.

Brian Tufo says:

@Tallbruva thanks for the extra insight and great points.
I too would rather pay $1 and NEVER see an ad.

Tallbruva says:

@Brian Tufo
My pleasure. Another reason that goes unnoticed is that (Android fanboys get your pitchforks out) Android users are CHEAP. Now I love Android but truth is truth.
The reason is because when the G1 came out, the Android Market didn't accept paid apps. So EVERYTHING was free. People got used to that and thus recoil when they have to pay.
I have friends who have Android devices. I showed them my home replacement that spins the desktop like cube, has an Iron Man theme (pretty hot, I must say) and other apps I've purchased. They'll say: "That's hot. Is it free?" "No, but it's just 99 cents." Their response: "Naw. That's alright." I say: "Come on. Give the guy a buck." But I guess 99 cents for an app is more expensive than $1.69 for a Twinkie.
I will say this. Those that purchase Android apps are not as critical as those who download free ones (and who believe everything should be free). The latter feel every feature they dream up should be there and will withhold stars because they aren't. Those that pay rarely (dare I say ever in my personal experience) complain. They may state what they would like to see. But they aren't complainers like the freebie bunch.
I would be interested in what iPhone developers see in the psyche of their paid vs. free users.

deferom says:

I like when a developer puts up an ad-supported version, and a version without the ads. I really dislike ads, but I don't like to pay and hate it either. I use the version with ads as a demo of sorts, and if I like it, I go buy the full-version.
I'm pretty sure they're going to go create an ad-free version for Android, but want to fix a couple things like performance on old hardware.
@IloveGeorgia
1 million a month. iOS can't pull anything near that (especially now that we all own it).

Jason says:

Ad supported versions can pay the developer long after the initial purchase... a 99 cent app makes them 99 cents one time... the same ad supported version may make them several dollars over time from ad revenue.

Jason says:

This is why Apple and Microsoft will be the big players in the phone space in a few years. They both setup their marketplaces the right way (MS did a good job taking the good things from Apple and Google and making a system that kind of sits in between)... Microsoft already has pretty strong and growing developer support and Apple has the one thing none of the other platforms have right now... the iPod touch which just makes SOOO many more potential buyers for their apps... Google is quickly heading down the "linux" path...

melwan says:

@Jason
Last time I checked, Ubuntu wasn't "booming" lol

Ilovegeorgia says:

@deferom i was talking about the revinue they got during this holiday season was that much. Compared to a mill a year. Also people would rather have the full app without adds.

TreSupreme says:

Really you guys should change the name of this website to tipa.com (the iphone and android blog). I come here on a daily basis for ios news not android. Its funny how the only interesting stories you guys can come up with are android realted.

tuscanidream says:

How about apple allows returns so there would be no need for a free or lite version of the app. It would eliminate duplicate apps as well as apps that I purchased and a year later still do not work! Apple, I want a refund for MobileChat! You stole everyones money!!!

Jimbo says:

@Melwan
Spoken like somebody who wouldn't even know how to check.

Pimp Lucious says:

@Ilovegeorgia
As stated before in the post correcting yours where you state that the Android ad version would only bring in 1 million a year, it's 1 million a month that the developer stated that expected to be making by years in end on Android, and that number will likely go higher as Android usage continues to skyrocket globally. That's persistent revenue from all users, not just the one time sale revenue. Now why would I be mad about a major developer stating they prefer the android ad model for their apps?

Shrike says:

If an ad-supported revenue model ends up making more money than a for-pay model, that's bad bad bad. Horrible experience. I will curse Google forever for it. It will bleed into basically every business oriented thing for digital devices. Ugly ugly ugly.

Ken says:

Apple fanboy " amen "

Tallbruva says:

@Chris
I feel where you're coming from. Even though I'm a developer, I'm also a user. The free apps I write, I try to make the ad look like it's part of the app by deliberately choosing where I place it and making sure the background matches/compliments the app (on text ads that appear)
The problem with Angry Birds and other apps that smash ads in your face is that they don't follow recommended practice.
The AdMob SDK instructions for adding ads to apps says this:
Ads are best placed at natural break points in your application. Correctly answering "when" and "where" to show ads can significantly increase revenue. Users are most likely to click on ads at the end of some activity. For example, ads in games perform best on game-over screens and worst when shown during game play
So in the case of Angry Birds, they aren't following the recommendation even of their ad supplier. According to this, they shouldn't be showing the ad until you win or loose that level. To see the whole thing for yourself, go to the second to last page: http://www.admob.com/docs/AdMobAndroidSDK_Instructions.pdf

Tallbruva says:

Hopefully this will come thru correctly this time. If not, there's an underscore where the spaces are: AdMob Android SDK Instructionshttp://www.admob.com/docs/AdMobAndroidSDK_Instructions.pdf

jzajzz says:

Here's a concept... offer a Free version with ads and a paid version without ads. I think Rovio realized they will make more money with ads then offer a paid app. Especially if the paid app is only $.99

jzajzz says:

@SHRIKE
Read my previous post.. There's always the option of offering both the ad supported app and a full version. In the case of angry birds I have a feeling that in order for the paid version to match their free version The full version would have to be really expensive probably more than $5.00.

SockRolid says:

@ Tallbruva - "This looks like it’s going to shake out just like the PC/Mac wars of the 80’s & early 90’s. Apple was the hardware/OS of choice for graphics. PC’s/Windows for business."
It may be true that those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. But it could also be said that those those who try to duplicate history are likely to fail. Microsoft scored the DOS deal with IBM (by buying QDOS from Seattle Computer Products), DOS became the default OS for business, MS built huge market share. Then MS build Windows on top of DOS to leverage that market share with backward compatibility, yadda yadda.
So now Google is trying to build market share too. But for totally different reasons. Microsoft makes money by selling software licenses to businesses. Google makes money by selling ad impressions and clickthroughs to advertisers. Android, their OS, is free because giving it away free maximizes the number of eyeballs on AdMob ads. And maximizing eyeballs on ads is Google's business model.
You, the consumer, are Google's product. You are what Google sells to advertisers, whether it's for ads on their sites or ads on Android apps. You're locked into Google's world of spam hell. Google has no interest in seeing paid Android apps succeed. Unless they, too, feature ads.

Tallbruva says:

@SolidRock
You do make good points. The only one I beg to differ with is Google's lack of interest in paid apps. What they're doing is what investors are told time and again - diversify.
Google is jackin' me for 30% of every paid app I sell. Plus, they get the ad revenue from my AdMob ads I display. So all their eggs (Angry Birds pun not intentional but, hey, it works) :-) aren't in one basket. In fact, I've followed the same pattern. Consistent monthly revenue from ads and payouts by Google 2 days from sale date directly into my bank account. Can't lie; I ain't mad at them.
But Apple is doing the same thing. Quattro Wireless is their ad extension. And if it wasn't so dog-gone hard to implement, Apple would be getting a piece of my pie as well.

Jim says:

SockRolid-u hit it dead on

Frog says:

For the record. If you find an app that doesn't work for you, Apple will refund it. Just fill in the form

Dantv says:

@SolidRock
That's why I hate Google...They are a SPYWARE / ADWARE company hidden behind the free candy apps that they give away. I am really SURPRISED that today's geeks don't see Google for what they are! It's Google that should be SUED for giving away our privacy. Also, Android is nothing but a COPYCAT operating system. They couldn't even come up with their own OS and basically stole JAVA from Oracle. Google sucks and they need to go down!

paul says:

Hmmm, but the problem here is that the users don't care about "fragmentation" so as Android continues to soar and iOS tapers off, either the developers or google will have to deal with it.

Jimbo says:

@dantv
No need for caps...your fanboi blinders are quite apparent without them

Blaque says:

@Dantv
How do you win a case against someone for doing exactly what you agreed to let them do. When are you anti-Google folk going to realize that most people using Google already understand that the services are supported by targeted ads? You're ranting is pointless.
As for Angry Birds and other ad supported apps the ads don't bother me much. From the pulse of the internet however I think people would buy an ad free version as well. Simply put Rovio knows they can make WAY more on ads than they can sales on either platform so they went with the Ads for Android.
As for the comments about fragmentation and developer difficulty I believe its just hate by the larger companies for having to do a little work. I honestly think they just flat out hate Android because of its diversity. Apple was giving them this nice little confined space to work in but lacks choice for the consumer. Android gives consumer choice but it means the dev has to do a little more work. And to add to that because of that choice you can't ignore it because its market share will match and pass that of the iPhone. So now the companies HAVE to do some work...even though the work is not that difficult at all for a skilled dev.

Tallbruva says:

@Blaque
There is some validity to the fragmentation issue although not to the extent that is tossed around on the internet IMO.
For example, take Apps2SD. Android 2.2 (Eclair) and higher supports installing apps to the SD card. Most developers code for the lowest version of Android they want their app to support. I keep mine compatible with 1.6 (Doughnut)& up. In order to support devices that allow installation to the SD card, there's one line I have to add to the AndroidManifest.xml and one permission. So it is an extra step but it's not earth-shattering.
The real problem is different screen resolutions. Newer SDK releases make it much easier to deal with high, med & low res displays as far as graphics go. But even with this, your layout can potentially look much different on a 4.3" Droid X vs. a 2.5" x10Mini. So you do have to test on multiple resolutions. And the SDK does make it easy to create virtual devices to test on. But that's also one of the reasons game developers love iPhone - there's only one screen size and one resolution. So they can potentially get apps out faster. Not hating on Android (especially when you name your outfit Androids Future), but being a fanboy with no objectivity isn't healthy either.

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