Scrivener on Chromebook / Android (and a view into mobile)

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Merovech
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Wed May 25, 2016 8:26 am Post

There have been a few threads where this was mentioned. However, I thought perhaps an explicit "no plan, unclear market" would be better on its own thread. As I discuss below, it appears the better mobile market is Android (which holds 81% of the mobile market), and that creating a native Android app means you are also creating a Chromebook app.

Summary of the following:


  • 300M iPads sold from first release to present.
  • 200M Android tablets sold from first release to present.
  • 1.2B smartphones sold in 2015 alone; 81% Android, 18% iOS (Windows is 2%, but irrelevant).
  • Or, 216M iOS devices compared to 960M Android devices
  • Android apps run natively on Chromebook.
  • Chromebook exceeds 50% of K-12 market
  • Chromebook has surpassed Mac laptops in the market.

To try to address the market concern, I thought it would be helpful to provide a quote from Gizmodo:

Chromebooks have surpassed sales of Mac laptops in the United States for the first time ever. And that doesn’t surprise me. Because roughly a year ago I made the same switch. Formerly a lifelong Mac user, I bought my first PC ever in the form of a Chromebook. And I’m never looking back.


The article references an observation that Chromebook shipped 2 million devices in the previous quarter, over the Mac laptop (1.76M). The article also observes that Chromebook can run native Android apps. Basic googling indicates that Chromebook is growing in the K-12 market. I guess a solid $200 device beats a solid $1000 device.

How much market share does Android have? Eighty-one percent (81%), over the 18 percent share of iOS. So, while you're focusing on creating a native iOS app, you're only hitting a fifth of the mobile market.

The tablet market is flattening. There have been a total of 300M iPads sold from the first iPad to present, and nearly 200M Android tablets; tablet sales are down 10% year-over-year. However, 1.4B phones shipped in 2015 alone...of which 81 percent were android. So despite the Apple hype, Android is the dominate market in mobile. The larger phone size (4.7") obviates the need for a tablet (which is why I deprecated tablets in my own life).

Am
Amcmo

Wed May 25, 2016 11:08 am Post

Not wishing to pick a fight or disparage your obviously strong desire for Android Scrivener to meet your needs.

The figures at first glance look compelling, however that ignores the fact the greatest percentage of Android devices are low end, consumption devices barely removed from feature phones. Even Samsung sell far more low end phones than larger screen true (in today's expectations) smartphones, though they count in their smartphone stats. Also when you look at the percentage of those Android users who are actually need and are prepared to pay for an app the figures start to look very different from first glance.

Of the 200m Android tablets sold thus far most are at the bottom end 'web browser' territory, not actual work capable products.

I also read the article on swapping to Chromebook you mentioned, however that doesn't gell with our results from in house testing in my own company and my own attempt. There were just too many limitations. Gizmodo's favorite Chromebook on spec is little more than a tablet with built in keyboard. Fine if that's all one wants and is prepared to be 'always on' on the Internet. Just back from a week in Rarotonga with obscene internet prices. For many that would have made a Chromebook an unnecessary weight in carry-on.

Yes Chromebooks are ahead in K12, through aggressive promo/price, however big question will be whether that translates to ongoing purchase use outside of the education environment. Yes Chromebook SHIPMENTS exceeded MacBook sales (IDC have a great way with figures) A solid $200 device beats a solid $1000 device only if you don't want the features of the $1000 device. $50 tablets were going to kill the $300 tablets according to all the 'expert' commentators. Yes they sold millions, however reality was they did little to impact that market where creation was more important than consumption.

Yes Android apps can run on Chromebook, however in many cases the same issue applies as with Android devices, depending on version, namely getting an app that works/displays correctly on all devices/resolutions. Testing was for us a nightmare of test/tweaks for just the dozen combo's we looked at supporting. Currently none of the major competitors to Scrivener have Android apps one assumes because of a lack of verified demand, or desire to go down that rabbit hole.

Final Draft extensively researched an Android version. Their findings, unable to guarantee consistency across 100+ screen resolutions, and the vast majority of their potential mobile customers were on the iOS platform.

Doesn't change the fact there are one heck of a lot of Android devices out there, just nowhere near the 'compelling' figures you list.

Keith did mention an Android version, so unless things have changed, no doubt the guys will get an Android version out when time/resources permit, which will be great for serious Android users obviously like yourself.

Meanwhile there is an established market of iOS users clamoring and willing to pay, and Win/Mac customers crying out for upgrade.

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Merovech
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Thu May 26, 2016 12:52 am Post

Certainly not viewed as picking a fight. However, the statement that the android devices are "low end" is dismissive. I have owned android tablets that were every bit as capable as my wife's iPad.

Yes, over 1 billion Android devices are phones. Phablets are killing the tablet market, and the market share is still overwhelmingly Android. With a BT keyboard, I've done some serious writing on a Nexus 5 phablet.

Only 300 million iPads ever sold, 200 million Android tablets and growing.

My point is the iOS has passed its zenith of market share. Apple created a new market but is being lapped by its competitors.

The chromebook has been progressively growing in market share, having crested Mac laptops and competing with Windows. Chromebook's market went from 15% of share in 2013 to 30% in 2015, while Apple's laptop dropped from 19% to 10%. Chromebooks run Android apps naively.

In other threads, the statement was made that the focus on iOS is because it was a better market than Android. My point here is to challenge that assumption.

As for preference of OS: the reason I first bought a Mac was because of Scrivener. Until a month ago, the last time I willingly installed Windows was 1997; I'm a Linux guy at heart. I've since bought two Mac Mini's (all of the power of a laptop, all of the portability of a tower) and two MBAs. I enjoy the Mac platform, but not a fanboi.

Am
Amcmo

Thu May 26, 2016 10:33 pm Post

Couple of minor points.

300 M vs 200M and growing. Correct is 300M and growing vs... iPads are still selling and are the largest individual supplier by far. Samsung, the largest Android suppleir has experienced an even larger decline.

Chromeboks. Q1 2016 ESTIMATED 1.8-2M but as chromebook mfrs don't give sales figures it is just an estimate, and from generally available info the VAST majority of that is in education at substantially discounted prices with little penetration outside of that AT THE MOMENT.

With 1.8-2M Chromebooks vs 1.7M Macs, the 30% vs 10% doens't stack up. Most Chrombook sales have been at Windows expense.

The bit about 'past Zenith and being lapped' has been claimed for 4-5 years now by Wall Street 'experts' and the like and each quarter's reports debunk that claim.

I/We tried both Asus Chromebook and Surface Pro 3 and gave up as not suited to our requirements. Always on internet for chromebooks to be of any use is a non-starter in the majority of australia outside of major centres.

Certainly no fanbois if that's the suggestion. 2 Macs, 2 PC's VM server with 3 virtual Win 2008 servers. Developed (briefly) for Android. VM Linux just to keep current. Have jsut purchased use Mac Mini that will replace the huge VM box.

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ChrisRosser
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Fri May 27, 2016 10:21 am Post

I already have Scrivener running on my Chromebook.

What I don't have on my Chromebook anymore is ChromeOS :D
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Merovech
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Tue Jun 07, 2016 9:50 pm Post

iPhone, iPad and Mac sales are all trending down by 16% and trending down in 2016. Granted, the data suggest that tablet sales are overall down by about 12%.

Of the tablet vendors Apple is 1/4 of the market in 2015, with 25% year-over-year declines; this is the ipad (50M units in 2015) against Android tablets (150M in 2015).

[url=http://www.macrumors.com/2014/07/22/ipad-225-million-sold-significant-innovation/]From 2010-2014, there were 225M iPads sold
. With the 50M sold in 2015, the figure 2010 to 2015 is just under 300M. Yet, in 2015, Android sold 150M tablets. Considering that the 2015 iPad numbers represent a 25% drop, then they sold 67M in 2014. The [urlhttp://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2954317]total tablet market in 2014 was 216M[/url], meaning that android was about 145M units. Thus, in 2014 & 2015, the total Android tablet market was 290M, compared with the total iPad sales (2010-2016) of 300M. Assuming no net change in the market or share, then iPad's share in total sales compared to Android tablets is being pulverized. I revise my data above up 90M units for Android.

Your claim that "iPads are still selling and are the largest individual supplier by far" is accurate but misleading. There are multiple suppliers of Android tablets, and their overall market share dwarfs iPad.

Nothing in your reply demonstrates that the iOS market share continues to be competitive with Android's. Per-year sales it is only 25% of the market for tablet. Per-year sales it is only 12% of the phone market.

Your point that Chromebook is taking share only against Windows laptops is ignoring the data. The Mac laptop market dropped from 19% to 10% (see my post for details), which is a 48% market share drop year-over-year and a real-percent drop of nine. Chromebook has doubled from 15-30% year-over-year. So, nine percent of the 15% growth was against the Mac laptop, the other 16% is against Windows. Chromebook is 1/3 of new laptop sales where the Mac laptop is 1/10th of sales.

The assertion made is that Scrivener development is focused on iOS because it has a greater market share than Android. The data and analysis shows clearly that Android has surmounted iOS' market share and will likely continue to dominate it. Therefore, the assertion is not supported by the data. That is the point of this thread.

You don't develop for the market that exists now, but for the market that will be. And the data shows that to be an Android market.

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ChrisRosser
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Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:49 pm Post

Chromebooks are only really selling in the US K-12 market because they are cheap and Google's services (apps, device management) are compelling for school districts. They were a flash in the pan in Australia. I bought mine when our big retailers dumped the prices to get rid of the stock and they haven't returned since. My brother who lives in the UK is telling me a similar story.

In China and India, most new laptops sold have Ubuntu on them. If you want to talk about an emerging market compare 2.5 billion Asians against 400 million North Americans or 500 million Europeans and its no contest. Linux will win the desktop in the end as it has on phones (android) and servers.

For Scrivener to go on a Chromebook, represents a shift to a client-server model where it's offered as a service (no doubt with a subscription to make it viable). That means infrastructure for hosting, storage, authentication etc. That represents a huge departure from the current model. Is that really what you want? I personally avoid (and have stopped using) software that has adopted a subscription model.

Android also belies some similar quirks in its states in my opinion. Globally, it's far and away the market leader on smartphones but on tablets it's a very different story. But in many Western markets, iOS dominates the smartphones and tablets. Even in China, iOS devices are coveted over Android as status symbols for the growing middle class. iOS users are also much more likely than Android users to pay - and pay more - for apps.

Scrivener as far I can tell is really two separate projects: Mac/iOS developed by Keith in Objective-C/Swift/Cocoa and Windows developed by Lee in C++/QT. Android would require yet another development effort, this time in Java. So that's another stack the developers have to learn, another codebase to manage and maintain etc.

Android is also a mess. You have to put up with Android's fragmentation. What version do you target. Do you want mass adoption (4.4) or features 5.0/6.0. The overwhelming majority of Android users are still stuck on Kit Kat and typically only Nexus users (a very small percentage) are on the latest version.

As someone who's been and done Android (phone and tablet), ChromeOS and Linux (and is moving back to iOS) I personally think it would be costly misktake and ultimately wasted effort.

Better for what is really a small, independent, loosely coupled team, to concentrate and putting out the best product they can on the platforms they care about.
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kewms
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Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:04 am Post

(Note that I'm writing as a private citizen with some knowledge of Android development, not as a member of the Scrivener team.)

The Android platform, and particularly the Android phone segment, is a hideous nightmare for developers. (Including Google itself.) With iOS, Apple decides when an upgrade is available and for what devices. This means that, as a developer, you can be pretty confident that all iDevices newer than a given date will have a consistent set of hardware and software capabilities. The number of device hardware variations is strictly limited, too.

In the Android space, the available hardware is much more diverse. Lower end devices have wildly different specifications from higher end devices. Worse, there is no direct Google -> device update pipeline. If you have a phone, your cell provider decides when to push software upgrades to the phone, and it is not at all unusual for their software to lag six months to a year behind Google's reference platform. (Can you say security exposure?) Your hardware provider can ship whatever "skin" they want on top of the base Android software, and has no obligation to conform their hardware specifications to Google's current reference platform. Buy a cheap enough phone and it may *never* get a software upgrade, simply because it can't run the newer versions of Android. All of this increases the difficulty of developing for the platform quite substantially. It also imposes a performance burden on Android software: Android development mostly uses Java for platform independence, but the Java environment is inherently more demanding of system resources.

This is somewhat similar to the Mac/PC dichotomy in the computer space. The PC represents a much larger market opportunity on paper, but a consistent user experience makes the Mac very desirable to a subset of users and developers. Note that Scrivener was developed for the Mac first. Not because of a detailed market analysis, but because that was the platform Keith himself wanted to use.

All of this is somewhat moot anyway. The iOS version may only hit a fifth of the mobile market, but it exists now. (Beta, it's true, but I've seen it!) That alone pretty much guarantees that it will appear before the Android version.

Katherine
Scrivener Support Team

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ChrisRosser
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Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:48 am Post

Well put, Katherine.
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Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:26 am Post

As a precursor to my comments, please note that we *do* intend to develop an Android version. There is no timeline for that at the moment, however. It will be built by our Windows team, using some of the Windows backend code, seeing as the Qt frameworks can be used to develop for Android. The Windows team is currently tied up working on the next major Windows update, however, and will be until sometime next year. The Android version will start development before that, but it will be a side project until Windows is up to date. Android is on our roadmap, though.

One thing to note, however, is that the number of devices sold is not proportionate to profitability. All the research I've read - and I just did a quick Google to ensure this hasn't changed recently - is fairly unequivocal in concluding that iOS costs less to develop for and makes more money for developers. iOS users are more used to buy software, talk about it more, and spend more on software. The gap may be slowly closing, but iOS is still generally the better platform to start with for developers looking to create mobile software.

That said, this wasn't really a consideration when setting out, as we aren't a market research kind of company - we take more of a "build it (eventually :) ) and they will come" approach. By that, I simply mean that we build software we're passionate about for the platforms we love and use, and trust that there are enough users who will like that software on those platforms to sustain us as a business (there are). For me the business has always come second to building software that I want. I would rather go out of business than start relying on market research - I want to build the platform, not a box that's going to sit in an underground server room because Jan the Man thought it would be a good idea (Silicon Valley reference ahoy).

The Windows version only exists because a few years ago, Lee came to me with a proposal to develop it and seemed as passionate about it as I was. If it weren't for Lee, we'd still be Mac-only. The reason the iOS version has taken so long to come to market is because I had no interest in developing it myself as I was not passionate about the platform or what could be done with it, and other developers could not deliver. The reason it's now nearly ready is because nine months ago the iPad Pro and other devices finally sparked some interest in me in the iOS platform, seeing no other alternative, I took over the project myself. For us to deliver an Android version, we'll need similar passion - and the Windows team has that, as they have been chomping at the bit to create an Android version for years, it's just that we have to serve our existing Windows customers first.

The above notwithstanding, the number of users who have asked us for an Android version is infinitesimal compared to the users we have had clamouring for an iOS version. So, research indicates that there are far more people who want an iOS version of Scrivener than an Android version, and that we will make more money on the iOS version. So it makes absolute sense to put our resources into iOS first.

I do appreciate that there are users who want an Android version, though, and, as I say, we do plan to create one - eventually. After iOS, I won't be guessing at timelines any time soon. :)

Thanks and all the best,
Keith
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alisonnic
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Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:47 am Post

Katherine and Keith, thank you so much for clarifying the complexities of the development process and the marketplace. Thanks to everyone who posted the information on Chromebook and Android sales. And thank you to Keith and all the developers who have brought us Scrivener!

Keith, please add me to that short list of people clamoring for Scrivener on Android (and Chromebook).

I'd also be glad to be a tester, either alpha or beta, and if it might help I could do some coding as well. I'm a retired software engineer with experience with C, C++, and have done some tinkering with Python. Also a few ancient languages that a lot of young whippersnappers have probably never heard of. ;)

I bought an Asus Flip about a month ago, and I've fallen in love with it. Small, light, fast, boots up in 9 seconds, battery lasts all day. It's awesome for taking to writing workshops, or for writing or whatever while hanging around in the library, cafes, or wherever. I'm using it way more than any of my Windows PC's, including my wonderful but heavy, slow-to-boot Acer laptop, whose battery won't even last an hour.

The Chromebook does most of what I need, except it can't run Scrivener. So I write in Google Docs in the workshops or wherever and then copy/paste my brilliant new prose into Scrivener later. I also use TeamViewer to log into a PC at home from on the road and can use Scrivener that way, but I have to remember to leave a PC up and running in Always On mode. That works, but naturally there's some lag.

Having Scrivener on the Chromebook would be totally awesome, awesome, awesome. The Flip will be getting Android shortly (hopefully this week), so it'll be able to run the Scrivener Android app whenever it becomes available. I've also got two Android phones and two Android tablets that could do some testing.

Did I mention that I'm passionate about the Chromebook? And Android? And Scrivener!!!

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ChrisRosser
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Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:19 am Post

alisonnic wrote:
The Chromebook does most of what I need, except it can't run Scrivener. So I write in Google Docs in the workshops or wherever and then copy/paste my brilliant new prose into Scrivener later. I also use TeamViewer to log into a PC at home from on the road and can use Scrivener that way, but I have to remember to leave a PC up and running in Always On mode. That works, but naturally there's some lag.

Having Scrivener on the Chromebook would be totally awesome, awesome, awesome. The Flip will be getting Android shortly (hopefully this week), so it'll be able to run the Scrivener Android app whenever it becomes available. I've also got two Android phones and two Android tablets that could do some testing.

Did I mention that I'm passionate about the Chromebook? And Android? And Scrivener!!!


Yes, your Chromebook can run Scrivener (if it has an x86 CPU). All you need to do is install a Linux distro either natively or use a Chroot utility like ChrUbuntu. Surely that's better than waiting until 2017 and beyond for the Android version.

I run Scrivener on my Chromebook, it's not hard!!!!

I use GalliumOS, which is optimised for many Chromebooks.
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ChrisRosser
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Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:22 am Post

Hold the press!!!!

Just looked up your Asus Flip - it uses an Arm processor. You're SOL, sorry. Scrivener for Linux is compiled for x86 only. You'll have to wait for the Android version sometime after 2017 :wink:
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al
alisonnic
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Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:34 pm Post

ChrisRosser wrote:Hold the press!!!!

Just looked up your Asus Flip - it uses an Arm processor. You're SOL, sorry. Scrivener for Linux is compiled for x86 only. You'll have to wait for the Android version sometime after 2017 :wink:


Thanks for looking into this for me, Chris! I'm sorry to hear my Flip can't run the Linux version of Scrivener. Gonna have to be patient. Sounds like very, very patient. :(

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ChrisRosser
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Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:37 pm Post

alisonnic wrote:
ChrisRosser wrote:Hold the press!!!!

Just looked up your Asus Flip - it uses an Arm processor. You're SOL, sorry. Scrivener for Linux is compiled for x86 only. You'll have to wait for the Android version sometime after 2017 :wink:


Thanks for looking into this for me, Chris! I'm sorry to hear my Flip can't run the Linux version of Scrivener. Gonna have to be patient. Sounds like very, very patient. :(


Shame though, looks like a great product
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