Comparing Facebook applications to iphone applications (and a little bit on android)
More often than not, when I mention to people that develop facebook applications they retort with “and iphone apps?” which I then proceed to frown. Apple have done their job, they have marketed the iphone and app so well they every business needs an iphone app when more than likely they don’t. Most people where I am based do not see the real potential that Facebook provides on the application front and automatically jump on the buzzword band wagon and say they need an iphone application.
In this article I am going to give the benefits for both developing an iphone application and a facebook application but as some kind of disclaimer I do develop great facebook applications and if you have an idea for one you should contact me- email@example.com
Now after that shameless plug I can now get on to the meat of this blog post
Iphone and IPad advantages/disadvantages (IOS devices)
Cost of download Unlike facebook applications people pay to have the application installed on the device. The average costs of an application on facebook is an amazing $0 to install, while the average cost of an Iphone application is $2.43 and slightly higher for an android application at $2.96 (source:http://folo.me/dzqh). This can provide much need income for many developers to cover the development costs, unlike facebook which has the business buzzword model of “freemium”
- No virality Unlike the facebook platform that has an existing mechanism to share valuable application information across hundreds of friends instantly with one click of a button, mobile doesnt compare to facebooks hold on a users social network.
- Application ads Some applications have gone down the advertising route for their business model and so have some facebook application developers. In the free world of facebook, its hard to get a grasp on advertisements within applications. Of course you have access to the facebook graph which I assume can be used to target an advert to a specific user. The key difference to iphone users is the positioning of the user. An advert can be targetted to a users exact location, be it a coffee shop the user is walking past playing a game or a office suite that a user is working in, this kind of data is valuable to advertisers and will pay accordingly
- Productivity and business applications Facebook doesn’t really work well with the theme of productivity, often it will be banned within an organisation therefore business applications and productivity applications would be best suited to a mobile device.
Facebook applications advantages/disadvantages
- Virality the number on reason why most developers edge with facebook’s platform is the social network element, if it happens on facebook everyone sees it and has the ability to interact and share content/media
- Late to market Many applications that where built for iphones became popular because they where first to market with ideas and therefore where adopted first, many applications tried to break into the market and failed. Unlike iphones and ipads, many big applications where just better implemented versions of other applications, for example, farmville wasnt the first farming application to be on facebook. Its all about fashion on facebook, users go to what their friends are going to. If you seen an idea thats poorly implemented and have some time/money go ahead and do it, chances are you might be a success
- The numbers Facebook definitely has this as an advantage, with over 500million active users compared to 120million IOS devices and 60million android, the figures are with facebook. There are 1million facebook developers publishing applications while 43,200 apple developers and 10,200 developers for android. Obviously with more developers the cost of building a facebook application would be much lower.
- Growth Few iphone applications have reached more than 1 million installs while over 250 have on facebook. When you have that amount of eyeballs staring at your application you are definitely going to monetise
I would side with facebook applications. With an iphone application its a single user experience, which will probably cost you more than a facebook application and when something happens on facebook all my friends see it. The numbers are swayed with facebook but the real benefits iphone development is the cost of the download which can generate serious revenue and the other benefit would be the location, you can target so much more when you know where your user is.
UPDATE: thanks to @codeswimmer for pointing out my mistake