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Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia
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What Android Winds of Change Could Mean For Insurers

The mobile operating system has been gaining market share steadily, but does that mean insurers should start focusing development there?

Now that it's generally established that mobile as a channel has arrived, the next question most technologists are asking is: What's the most effective way to leverage it? Many insurers I spoke to for my recent story busting mobile myths said that it is important not to get caught up in the latest wave of what is a very fluid channel. The challenge is in thinking ahead and trying to identify future trends.

"One of the key challenges any technologist has is not to be taken aback by the next shiny thing," says Allstate's Suren Gupta. "At the same time, though, I want to make sure I am addressing the consumer needs as they're changing. That's where innovation becomes the collective responsibility of every employee in the company."

A report today at I&T sister site InformationWeek has some interesting tidbits about the two most dominant mobile platforms in the marketplace: Apple's iOS, which solely comes with the iPhone and iPad; and Google's Android, which powers a wide range of phones and tablets from different manufacturers. According to the article:

Developers and consumers prefer iOS to Android, according to several new reports. Flurry Analytics says that more apps developed during the first quarter of the year were for iOS than Android. At the same time, data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners shows that a huge percentage of new iPhone buyers defected from Android smartphones.

Developers prefer the iOS platform for two reasons. First, they make more money from the average iOS app than Android by a four-to-one margin. But insurers, who largely aren't selling their apps, are likely to agree with the other reason: because the form factors of all devices running iOS are the same, development isn't as complex an undertaking for that platform.

And, if people are flocking back to the original consumer-targeted smartphone, there's that much more of a reason to consider it the leader, even though it still trails in total marketshare by about 20%, according to ComScore.

Of course, it's dangerous to assume that anything in mobile is going to last forever. That explains why more insurers are looking to multi-platform solutions to give customers mobile access to them, including cross-platform development tools and the mobile web.

"HTML5 is very much allowing us to do more and more on the mobile web," says Patty Gaumond of State Farm. "I don't think it's going to be one or the other moving forward. There's been a lot of debate on 'apps are dead' or 'is it all apps' — it becomes more important to be available to consumers on both."

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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