Monday, October 24, 2011

Where's The VPR Android App?

We knew when we launched the VPR iPhone App the first question we'd receive from listeners would be "what about the Android?" Well, you haven't disappointed. On Facebook, Twitter, email, and in person, listeners have asked why we launched an iPhone App but no equivalent Android App.

Since this is our first mobile App, we wanted to choose just one platform (iOS or Android), go through the process, learn a lot of lessons (about the audience, supporting the App, the expense, etc.), and then expand from there. To us, it made more sense to achieve success with one App before trying to support multiple Apps. After all, it's not just about developing and launching the App: once it's launched, it must be fixed when there are issues, updated when there are changes to the OS, and enhanced with new features as listeners' habits and expectations evolve. It's an ongoing commitment and service, not just a one-and-done build.

So why the iPhone, especially when there are more Android smartphones on the market than iPhones? The first reason is that we've received more requests from iPhone users than Droid users, and our web-analytics back this up: we have more visitors using iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) than we do using Android (or Blackberry). It's true that Android is growing fast and has more users, but our web metrics and requests from listeners still pointed us to the iOS.

The other factor is that because Android is open, it's used by many manufacturers, each with their own modified versions. We've learned from other stations and App developers that it's a real challenge to keep up with the differences among all these permutations. It's not impossible, of course, it's just more of a challenge. iOS is not open and is controlled closely by Apple, which isn't great for a lot of reasons, but it does make iOS a lot more stable and straightforward to develop for and support.

The VPR iPhone App was developed with our partners at PRX, the outfit behind many other public radio Apps. In May they blogged about "Why There's No Public Radio Player For Android Yet", any many of our arguments echo theirs. That post is definitely worth a read.

We will continue to expand our mobile offerings and we are talking to PRX about developing a Droid App as well. In the meantime, the NPR Android App provides a great way to stream VPR and VPR Classical on your Android smartphone.

Thanks for listening. If you've tried the VPR iPhone App, or if want a VPR Droid App, we'd love to hear from you.


  1. This choice discriminates against smart phone users who can't spend $450+ on a phone, something that VPR should be keen to avoid. Not only that, affordable service providers tend not to offer iPhones, unlike expensive ones.

    The short bit about how Android is 'open' and Apple is 'safer' is inaccurate and ought to be excised.

    It's disappointing, especially since Google and Apple treat young, aspiring artists and thinkers quite differently. One requires them to buy in BIG TIME and one makes many products available to those lower-income students FOR FREE.

    While Android phones likely have no better track record, there has also been a lot of news recently about Apple's unsavory labor practices.

    I think you made the wrong choice, but you made a business choice and, at the end of the day, you can probably make more revenue of less richer people than you can off more poor people.

    I think it's a decision that is against 'open' technology for the masses. It is, at bottom, classist.

  2. All app of android for iphone is great but little tough to operate for girls.


  3. I agree with your blog.I am going to use some new resources and tell my developers about the others.Thanks for sharing!!
    iCaption That


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