Getting Fireballed, And Some Clarifications

Yesterday, a funny thing happened — I wrote a post earlier about mobile startups and the timing of their decision to build on Android, and it took off — and into the hands of John Gruber, famed Apple blogger and creator of Daring Fireball. Boy, can Daring Fireball drive traffic! Here’s what I learned from this experience, and I also must include some clarifications from my initial post, as I did make a mistake and want to clarify that:

  1. In my original post, I wanted to make a nuanced point — that it’s fine for mobile startups to build for Android, but that I believe it is a decision that can wait until a product has found product-market fit and has a strong, engaged foundational base under it. So, I do not think apps should avoid Android altogether — but, I do believe Instagram’s path from iOS to Android is the right one to follow for most apps.
  2. One mistake I made in the post was to not caveat specific countries where Android is the dominant platform right now. As someone on Twitter pointed out, a country like South Africa, where Android is dominating (right now), would likely need an Android solution. While I do believe it’s better to use iOS to find product-market fit, I should’ve pointed out Android-first considerations are real in markets like South Africa.
  3. I would caution, however, that these rates will remain as such. I rarely see people leave iOS for Android, but I see people leave Android for iOS all the time. As the cost of devices come down, and if those populations want to use new apps built in the west (which is a presumption, yes), then it makes sense for this to shift over time. I would bet Apple is thinking about ways to go down market, too, and Amazon buys enough old iPhones to recycle them to the corners of the earth.
  4. Gruber’s influence in driving traffic is insane. In one day, he accounted for as much traffic as I receive over 2-3 months of time combined. I learned yesterday that this is called getting “Fireballed,” and the traffic continued today and is expected to last some time. I can understand how Gruber does his sponsorships, why he’s so sought after. I can also now better understand the motives of other Apple bloggers to write about the company and ecosystem — it drives traffic in a big way. If you now think of some of the best tech bloggers out there, it’s no wonder Apple is featured so much. Apple fandom runs deep, and those who can capture the edge of what is the most secretive company in tech will be rewarded with eyeballs. (Thank you, John, for the mention and link.)
  5. The comments between Android and iOS fanatics are the worst. I gave up trying to keep up and let people go to town. You folks argue and I’ll enjoy all my new cutting edge apps only available on iOS.

Finally, personally, I have tried Android 2x and I hated it. I like to have new apps. In my graph of friends I interact with, maybe 1 out of 10 has an Android. And, as I’ll write soon, the arrival of iPhone 6 and iOS 8 will begin a non-trivial separation between each platform’s capabilities.

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2018 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus