BBC iPlayer iOS vs Android

bbc.pngThere’s an interesting report by the BBC that shows the Complaints and Appeals Board Findings (pdf) into the allegation that…

"iPlayer development was prioritised and new features and upgrades made available to competing devices and platforms. The core allegation was that the BBC had favoured iOS (Apple) over other mobile platforms with greater market share"

The board found that…

"there was no evidence that the BBC had unfairly favoured the iOS platform when making development decisions and allocating resources" and "where development was prioritised, it was done on an objective basis, taking account of requirements under the on-demand syndication policy".

Let’s dig deeper. In actual fact, expenditure was approximately equally distributed between the two platforms. The BBC planned to treat iOS and Android platforms equally but due to complications with supporting Android’s fragmented 4000 devices they reached a decision in early 2012 to prioritise iOS.

I have seen this argument come up a lot when talking to companies. Some, but definitively not all, people believe that Android should take less of a priority because it’s more fragmented and hence more costly. It’s a large issue for companies thinking of producing a new app. However, there is a different way to compromise.

My personal view is that the BBC made a mistake. On projects over the last year, for apps shipped in the UK only (iPlayer’s audience) I have been seeing approximately 75% of smartphone devices are Android. Approximately 80% of these devices are Samsung. A large proportion of the remainder are HTC. The large Android share should be enough for the BBC (and others) to look for better compromises. They cut features instead of what devices to support. They should have perhaps cut the supported devices and kept the functionality on par with iOS.