Building a mobile app is a big step for any business or individual looking to expand their reach, provide better user experience, and tap into the ever-growing mobile market. But with so many different platforms available, the question arises: should you build a single platform app or a cross-platform app that can run on multiple platforms?
That’s what we’re here to talk about today. In this article, we’ll be diving into the pros and cons of building a mobile app for multiple platforms. Whether you’re a business owner, developer, or just someone curious about the mobile app world, this article is for you.
We’ll be taking a close look at the advantages and disadvantages of building a cross-platform app, and how you can make the best decision for your project. First, let’s understand what a cross-platform app really means.
What is a Cross-Platform Mobile App?
A cross-platform mobile app is a type of mobile application that can run on multiple platforms, such as iOS, Android, and even web browsers. This means that users can access the app from different devices and operating systems, allowing for a wider reach and increased market share.
The logic behind a cross-platform mobile app is to create a single codebase that can run on multiple platforms. This is achieved through the use of cross-platform development frameworks and technologies, such as React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, and more.
The end result is a single app that can run seamlessly on different platforms, providing a consistent user experience regardless of the device or operating system. For example, a cross-platform mobile app can be developed to run on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, ensuring that users with both iOS and Android devices can download and use the app.
Now that you understand what a cross-platform app is, let’s talk about its pros first, and then we’ll move over to cons so you can make up your mind.
6 Pros of Building a Cross-Platform App
There are 6 major pros of building a multi-channel app. Let’s have a look.
1. More reach, more market share
When asked, Tom Miller, Director of Marketing at FitnessVolt shared, “One of the biggest pros of building a mobile app for multiple platforms is increased reach and market share. When you build a single platform app, you’re limiting yourself to a certain audience who use that particular platform. But when you build a cross-platform app, you have the potential to reach a much larger audience, as your app will be available to users on multiple platforms.”
For example, if you build an app for both iOS and Android, you’ll be able to reach users on both platforms, thereby increasing your potential customer base. This increased reach can also lead to increased market share, as you’ll be able to tap into different market segments on each platform.
Moreover, having a cross-platform app can also improve brand recognition and visibility. David Martinez, VP Enterprise & OEM Accounts at Cybernetman.com, says, “When your app is available on multiple platforms, it becomes easier for users to find and remember it, and it can also increase the likelihood that they’ll recommend it to others.”
And, having a cross-platform app can also increase your chances of being featured in app stores, as app stores often prefer apps that are available on multiple platforms.
2. Improved user experience
Another advantage of building a mobile app for multiple platforms is improved user experience. “When you have a single app that runs on multiple platforms, you can ensure a consistent user experience across all devices”, says Jonathon Reilly, Co-Founder of Akkio.
That means, your users will have the same seamless and intuitive experience, regardless of whether they’re using an iPhone or an Android device.
This can be particularly beneficial for businesses looking to expand their reach. With a cross-platform app, you can reach a larger audience and provide them with a consistent and enjoyable experience.
And, when users have a positive experience with your app, they’re more likely to use it regularly and recommend it to others.
Also, improved user experience comes with customer loyalty. As Alex from NC Cash Home Buyers, says, “When users feel that you’re providing a high-quality, reliable app that meets their needs, they’re more likely to stay loyal to your brand.”
And, as we all know, keeping existing customers is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.
Let’s take a real-life example to understand the importance of improved user experience in cross-platform apps. Consider a popular online shopping platform, Amazon. Amazon has a mobile app that runs on both iOS and Android platforms. The app provides users with a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re using an iPhone or an Android device. They can easily browse and purchase products, track their order status, and manage their account, all from within the app.
As a result of this consistent user experience, Amazon has been able to expand its reach and attract customers from both iOS and Android platforms. And, with millions of active users, Amazon’s mobile app has become an integral part of the company’s overall success.
So, this is just one example of how a cross-platform app can provide improved user experience, leading to increased reach and customer loyalty.
3. More revenue potential
Faizan Ahmed Khan, Sr. Content Marketing Specialist at UBUY Kuwait, says, “By having your app available on multiple platforms, you can tap into different market segments and reach a wider audience. That not only increases the number of potential customers, but it also gives you the opportunity to monetize your app in different ways.”
For example, you can offer in-app purchases on one platform and advertisements on another. By diversifying your revenue streams, you can potentially increase your overall earnings and reduce the risk of relying on just one source of income. Or, you can steal revenue share from the users of all available platforms.
Additionally, having your app available on multiple platforms also gives you the chance to learn and adapt to different market trends and preferences. That can help you better understand what works and what doesn’t, and you can use this knowledge to improve your app and increase your revenue over time.
For instance, let’s say you have a fitness app that helps people track their workouts and progress. By building a cross-platform app, you can reach a wider audience, including those who use Android and those who use iOS.
In this scenario, you have multiple revenue streams from both in-app purchases and advertisements. This not only increases your potential earnings, but it also gives you the flexibility to cater to the different preferences of your audience.
4. Access to a larger pool of developers community
“When you build a mobile app for multiple platforms, you have the opportunity to tap into a much larger development community. With a wider pool of resources and talent at your disposal, you can bring your app to life with greater speed, efficiency, and creativity”, says Alexandra Cotes Daes, Marketing Director at Toronto Flower Co.
That’s because the larger the development community, the more people you have who can contribute to your project. For example, you might have a developer who specializes in iOS development and another who is an expert in Android development. With a cross-platform app, you can bring both of these specialists together to create a seamless and robust mobile app experience.
Additionally, Andrew Priobrazhenskyi, CEO and Director at Discount Reactor says, “Having access to a larger development community means that you can tap into a wider network of resources and support. From forums and communities where you can ask questions and get help, to open-source libraries and tools that can streamline your development process — you’ll have more resources at your disposal to help you achieve your goals.”
For example, if you want to add a new feature to your app, you can search for solutions within the development community. Chances are, someone has already encountered a similar problem and has created a solution that you can leverage.
By using tools, libraries, or code snippets shared by others, you can save time and resources, and focus on delivering a better user experience for your app.
5. Faster development
“When you build a cross-platform app, you can leverage a single codebase that can run on multiple platforms. That means, instead of writing separate code for each platform, you can write it once and have it run on multiple platforms”, says Jeoffrey Murray, Digital Marketing Expert at Solar Panel Installation.
It not only saves time, but also leads to a more efficient development process. Developers can work on a single codebase, which makes collaboration easier and reduces the risk of code duplication.
It also means that any bug fixes or updates can be made in one place and will immediately be reflected on all platforms, reducing the need for separate updates for each platform. For example, imagine that you’re building a weather app that needs to run on both iOS and Android platforms. If you were to build two separate apps, one for iOS and one for Android, you would need to write separate code for each platform, which could take longer and be more resource-intensive.
However, if you build a cross-platform app using a technology like React Native, you could write the code once and have it run on both iOS and Android.
Not only does this save time, but it also allows for a more seamless user experience. Since both platforms are using the same codebase, any changes or updates made to the app will be reflected on both platforms at the same time, leading to a more consistent user experience for your customers.
6. It’s cost effective in the long run
“Instead of building separate apps for each platform, you can create one app that works seamlessly on multiple platforms. That saves you both time and money as you only need to invest in a single development process”, says Bruce Mohr, Vice-President at Fair Credit.
Moreover, with a single codebase, it’s easier to maintain and update the app, reducing the costs associated with fixing bugs or adding new features. You only need to make the changes once, and they will be reflected on all platforms. This is a major plus for businesses that want to keep their app up-to-date and relevant without breaking the bank.
4 Cons of Building a Cross-Platform Mobile App
As good as it might sound, a cross channel app does come with limitations, which you must know before you start planning and building. Read one by one:
1. Complexity in development and maintenance
One of the biggest cons of cross-platform app development is the increased complexity in both development and maintenance.
Think of it this way: if you’re building a single platform app, you only have to worry about one set of guidelines, one programming language, and one design style. But when you build a cross-platform app, you have to ensure that your app works seamlessly on multiple platforms, each with its own unique set of guidelines, programming languages, and design styles.
That’s a lot to keep track of! Not only does this mean that the development process becomes more complex, but it also means that maintaining the app becomes more difficult as well. With multiple platforms to consider, fixing bugs, updating features, and ensuring compatibility becomes a much more time-consuming and intricate process.
Stephanos Oikonomou, Director at GoVisaFree says, “If you’re thinking of building a cross-platform app, just be aware that the development and maintenance process will be more complex than building a single platform app.”
But, with the right team and resources in place, the benefits of building a cross-platform app can far outweigh the challenges, Stephanos further added.
2. Different platforms, different requirements
Each platform – be it iOS, Android, or any other – has its own unique set of guidelines and requirements for app development. That can create a headache for developers who are trying to ensure that their app runs smoothly on multiple platforms.
For example, iOS and Android have different design languages, and thus, a single design that works well on one platform may not work on the other. Similarly, the way users interact with the app on iOS may differ from the way they do on Android.
That means, developers have to tailor the app to fit each platform’s requirements, which can lead to longer development cycles and increased costs.
Moreover, new versions of each platform are released regularly, and with each update, the app may need to be adapted to take advantage of the new features or to ensure compatibility with the latest version. That can result in a never-ending cycle of updates and adaptations, which can be a drain on resources and time.
Alison Lancaster, CEO of Pressat.co.uk cautions, “While the idea of reaching a wider audience by building a cross-platform app may sound appealing, keep in mind that each platform comes with its own unique set of requirements. That can add complexity to the development process and increase costs, making it a significant con to consider when deciding on the right approach for your mobile app development.”
3. Fear of ending up with a generic and lackluster app
One of the cons of building a mobile app for multiple platforms is the decreased focus on a single platform. When you’re building an app for multiple platforms, it can be tempting to try and make it work on every platform the same way.
However, that often leads to a lack of focus on each individual platform, resulting in a generic and lackluster app experience.
Each platform has its own unique features, capabilities, and user behaviors. By trying to make your app work on every platform in the same way, you run the risk of not fully utilizing the capabilities of each platform and not delivering the best possible user experience.
For example, if you’re building an app for both iOS and Android, you’ll have to deal with different design guidelines, user interfaces, and operating systems. By not focusing enough on each platform, you could end up with an app that doesn’t look and feel native to either platform.
4. Integration issues
Building a mobile app for multiple platforms is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Just because your app runs on multiple platforms doesn’t mean that it will work seamlessly across all of them. Integration issues can arise when different platforms have different requirements and limitations, making it difficult to create a seamless user experience.
Gerrid Smith, CMO at Joy Organics says, “The biggest challenge: Ensuring that the app works seamlessly across all platforms. That can be a time-consuming and complex process, especially if the platforms have different operating systems, screen sizes, and user interface design standards.”
For example, if your app is built for iOS, it might not work as smoothly on Android. You’ll have to make sure that the app’s interface, navigation, and functionality are consistent across all platforms. That can be a daunting task, as each platform has its own set of guidelines and requirements that need to be met.
What to Consider When Building a Mobile App?
Before you start building, consider these key points to make up your mind whether you need a cross-platform app, or a single platform app:
1. Know your audience
When considering whether to build a cross-platform app, one of the most important factors to consider is your target audience. After all, the success of your app will depend largely on whether it appeals to your target audience and meets their needs.
So, the first step is to get to know your target audience inside and out.
- Who are they?
- What are their needs and wants?
- What platforms do they use most frequently?
- What kind of mobile devices do they own?
Answering these questions will help you determine which platforms you should focus on for your app.
Matthew Smith, SEO Expert at Invicta Environmental provides an example, “Our target audience in the pest control niche consists primarily of iPhone users, that’s why we sense to focus our efforts on developing a native iOS app.” On the other hand, if your target audience uses both Android and iOS devices in roughly equal numbers, then a cross-platform app may be the best way to reach them.
In the end, it all comes down to knowing your target audience and what they want from a mobile app.
2. What are your business goals?
Consider your business goals. What do you hope to achieve with your app? Are you looking to increase brand recognition and reach a wider audience? Or are you focused on generating revenue through in-app purchases and advertising?
Mark Valderrama, CEO & Founder of Aquarium Store Depot, suggests “Your business goals will greatly influence your choice of app development approach. If your goal is to reach a wide audience, then building a cross-platform app might be the right choice. With a cross-platform app, you can reach users on multiple platforms, increasing your chances of being discovered by potential customers.”
On the other hand, if your main focus is on generating revenue, you might want to consider a single platform app. Building a high-quality app for a single platform allows you to focus all of your resources on creating the best user experience possible. That can lead to increased engagement and higher in-app purchases, ultimately helping you reach your revenue goals.
Your business goals should be a major factor in determining whether to build a single platform app or a cross-platform app. Take the time to carefully consider your goals and what approach will best help you achieve them, adds Kevin Zhou, CEO & Founder of REPART.
3. What’s the availability of your resources?
Ah, resources! They’re the backbone of any project, and when it comes to building a mobile app, they can make all the difference. You see, building a cross-platform app requires more resources than building a single platform app. From a larger team to increased development time and costs, take a hard look at what you have available before making a decision.
Here are a few questions to consider when analyzing your resources:
- Do you have the budget to support a larger development team and longer development time?
- Do you have the technical expertise in-house or will you need to outsource some work?
- Are you able to allocate the necessary resources for maintenance and updates across multiple platforms?
Kenny Kline, President at Barbend, adds “Remember that building a cross-platform app is a big commitment, and having the resources to support it is crucial for its success. If you find that you don’t have the necessary resources, it may be better to focus on building a single platform app and expanding to additional platforms once you have the resources to do so.”
4. Consider taking a look at your competitors
So, you’ve considered your target audience, examined your business goals, and analyzed your available resources. But have you taken a look at the competition? Learn what the competition is up to, as it can greatly impact your decision to build a cross-platform app or stick to a single platform.
Think about it — if your main competitors have already established themselves on multiple platforms, it may be harder for you to make a splash in the market if you only have a single platform app.
On the other hand, if your competitors have only focused on a single platform, building a cross-platform app could give you the edge you need to stand out.
Consider the following questions when evaluating the competition:
- What platforms are your competitors using?
- How have they leveraged these platforms to reach their target audience?
- What has been their success rate on each platform?
- Are they offering features or services that you don’t?
Anthony Dutcher, Chief Marketing Officer of Veriheal says, “By taking a close look at the competition, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether building a cross-platform app is the right move for your business. Keep in mind that the competition can also change over time, so re-evaluate your decision periodically.”
The Final Say
In conclusion, building a mobile app for multiple platforms can be a great way to expand your reach, improve user experience, and increase potential revenue. But with every pro, there’s also a con, and building a cross-platform app can also come with increased development costs, complexity in development and maintenance, and decreased focus on a single platform.
Sumeer Kaur, Founder of Lashkaraa.com, concludes “When making the decision to build a cross-platform app or stick to a single platform, consider your target audience, business goals, available resources, and the competition. By weighing the pros and cons and evaluating your unique situation, you can make an informed decision that will set you up for success in the mobile app world.”
We hope this article has provided valuable insights into the pros and cons of building a mobile app for multiple platforms. Whether you’re a business owner, developer, or just someone curious about the mobile app world, we hope it has given you the information you need to make the best decision for your project.