Will Android’s edge in personalization hold the key to the battle of the mobile OS? Android has always been widely known for its flexibility and customization. This ranges from being able to change the lock screen, keyboard, launcher and widgets. A Business Insider (BI) report has indicated that thanks to such flexibility, the adoption of personalization apps by users has skyrocketed. Based on the chart provided by BI below, 2014’s first quarter app personalization usage is double that of 2013’s last quarter. At 6.6 billion for Q1 2014 to 468 million in Q1 2013, this is a remarkable growth within the span of a year. This demonstrates that users are increasingly becoming savvy in the manner in which they utilize their devices. Manners in which this can be seen, is that the more popular apps are usually the ones which offer users the ability to customize the way in which they can be used. There are specialized apps which excel at doing one thing such as Widgetlocker, a lockscreen themer/customizer or more general apps such as MI launcher which acts as a home launcher and a lock screen replacement. In contrast, the Apple devices are largely locked down making it impossible to do such things without first having to jailbreak. In Android’s case, rooting is mostly optional and more for the power users who wish to implement deeper system wide changes.
Another reason which makes personalization so important, is that it helps to draw users to continue to use the app or game itself. This comes in the form of well designed UI to flexibility in changing aspects of the UI to suit users’ needs. Feedly is a good example of this, as it allows you to customize the sources you would like to read from and the manner in which to do so via gestures.
The final factor would be that of uniqueness. Most of us have very different needs and as such an app with very limited capacity for change will probably not be able to satisfy the vast majority of us. Taking into consideration, Play Store’s huge app selection means that competition is fierce and simply providing functionality isn’t good enough. To stand out, developers have to be innovative in how the app or game presents its functionality and the features available.
When taken together with 2014’s first quarter usage of 6.6 billion to 5.8 billion for the entire year of 2013, this seems to indicate that users are simply not satisfied by the status quo or to put it simply what mobile devices comes shipped with. That though manufacturers attempt to capitalize on the differentiation factor by providing features and apps preloaded onto devices, it is still not good enough for most of us. The need to personalize or provide uniqueness to individualized our devices drives us to find something better. Will this than contribute to the downfall of Apple? Or are these figures simply a reflection of Android users being more conscious of the assumption that pre-installed doesn’t equate to good enough?