Apple's iOS used to be the safe choice in mobile. It's lost market share over the past few years, yet it remains the mobile OS that "just works," happily running a broader array of high-quality apps with minimal fuss and downtime.
Except that it doesn't.
Not compared to Android, anyway. According to a new Crittercism analysis, a mobile application performance management vendor that processes over 30,000 requests per second from over 1 billion mobile users in real time, Android, not iOS, is the most stable, least crash-prone mobile OS. In fact, Crittercism found that Android KitKat's 0.7% crash rate was well below the 1.6% crash rate detected on iOS 7.1.
Android: Market and performance dominance?
Small wonder, then, that Apple is back in court, suing Samsung for $2 billion in damages. Last year, Samsung shipped 314 million Android-based devices, making Samsung the market leader in terms of volume.
Perhaps more troubling for the perfection-obsessed Apple, however, is that Samsung also leads the market in terms of quality, at least as measured by app uptime. Despite relying on Google's Android OS, Samsung has the lowest crash rates in the industry, as Crittercism's report shows (Figure A).
Samsung has the lowest crash rates in the industry.
In other words, the worst Android showing -- Google's Nexus 7 -- is equivalent to iOS' best device, the iPhone 5 (Figure B).
The worst Android showing is equivalent to iOS' best device.
Surprisingly, the iPhone 5 crashes 15% less than the more advanced iPhone 5s. Those considering an upgrade to take advantage of the 5s' superior performance may want to wait for the next version.
Does it matter? After all, for all the devices and operating system versions mentioned, the worst performance is a 2.6% crash rate. That's not that bad.
Or is it? For a company with $1 billion in annual revenue, the costs of crashes are significant, according to Crittercism's report:
- At 97% uptime, the company would lose $2.5 million per month
- At 99% uptime, the company would lose $0.8 million per month
- At 99.9% uptime, the company would lose $82,192 per month
For a company of that size, these numbers may not be a big deal, especially as mobile in large enterprises tends to be additive to existing businesses. So, the $2.5 million represented above is not a net loss, but rather simply less added value.
Still, the numbers add up (or subtract, as the case may be) for enterprises of all sizes, as Vision Mobile's 2013 developer report reveals (Figure C).
The numbers add up for enterprises of all sizes.
If you multiply the average revenue per developer by the average size of development team for mobile and enterprise application development, using VisionMobile's data, enterprise-oriented development teams make 16 times more revenue than consumer-oriented development teams. A 2.6% crash rate can put a significant dent in that revenue, whatever the size of the business.
Getting better all the time
The good news for Apple is that it's steadily improving. iOS 6 had a crash rate of 2.5% while iOS 7.0 registered a rate of 2.1%. As for Android, its tablets have worse crash rates than phones, but this performance differential should diminish over time, as well.
For enterprise developers, this is great news. Their paychecks depend on it.
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. He is currently VP of Mobile at Adobe. Previous positions include VP of business development and marketing at MongoDB and COO at Canonical, the Ubuntu Linux company.