From the Experts: Your Mobile Development Priority Stack

Seasoned entrepreneurs and investors say a founder should always be shipping products and iterating rapidly. So with users scattered between web, iOS, and Android -- not to mention Windows Mobile OS and a handful of operating systems like Mac and Linux -- how should founders start building?

How to Ship Better Software, and Lots of It

I came across some profound lines in a piece by Justin Fox on Harvard Business Review

“First you try something. Since it’s just software, there’s no need to bend any sheet metal or trouble the guys on the loading docks. Second, you post it on the net. If it works, it’s a product. If it doesn’t, it’s market research.”

It’s clear founders should constantly be improving the product with user feedback, as long as it's on track with the company's mission. Now, what’s even more crucial is how founders go about iterating their products with minimal consumption of resources (time, efforts & talent) and optimal output.

Semil Shah has very interesting ideas on this topic, too. In a blog post titled “ iOS First. Android Much, Much Later," he says —

Product-market fit is elusive in general, and acutely so on mobile, where distribution pipes are either constrained or flooded. I’m seeing too many teams building for Android too early. Unless there is a huge foundation under the iOS apps, building for Android is likely only to result in a few spikes in user growth and then a lifetime of hair pulling — too much for a small startup to handle.

It makes total sense:  why waste time making simultaneous changes during the iterative stages on two completely different systems?

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Moreover, the hardware and software fragmentation on Android makes it very hard to make changes across the Android ecosystem. Initially, covering all different platforms comes secondary to actually having a great product worth branding out to a variety of platforms.

Yesterday, I had a short conversation with Max Leroy, the founder of Topick, on Product Hunt. Pleased by the refreshing interface and great mobile optimization of his product, I asked him why he wouldn't go ahead to make an iOS app for Topick. His response intrigued me —

It's Still All About Mobile

Even though the First Round’s startup report says mobile is under-hyped, most founders realize that mobile governs all the attention and eye balls. And mobile is where all the action is. It might seem rational to most to jump into making a mobile app. I have seen my founder friends making mobile apps even before finding a good fit and initial traction.

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So, shouldn't all founders try to iterate their product on a mobile website only during the early stages? Once there is a fit, they could go all in on mobile apps. 

Furthermore, dealing with HTML, Javascript and CSS is much more convenient, faster and easier that dealing with Xcode and Android Studio. Going all in on mobile web seems the way to go from both technical and iterative standpoint to me.

So should it be “iOS, Android later” or “Mobile web, while iOS and Android later ”?

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments, or Tweet to @sarthakgh