Why Outlook for mobile is a hit on iOS and a miss on Android

Talk about an app store dichotomy: Microsoft’s new version of Outlook is a chart-topper on iPhones but a big miss on Android handsets based on their respective app stores. Of course, this is just one day after the company released what used to be Accompli for iOS and Android, so the situation is bound to change over time. Still, it’s an interesting look at the iOS and Android platforms when it comes to new apps and user behaviors.

When I checked the iTunes App Store this morning, I saw that [company]Microsoft[/company] Outlook was the No. 15 app in the list of Top Free iPhone Apps, just ahead of Google’s Gmail. I can’t tell how many downloads it has seen because [company]Apple[/company] doesn’t provide those figures.

outlook itunes app store

I then looked at the Top Free Apps in the [company]Google[/company] Play Store, expecting to see a similar positive reception for the Outlook preview. It was nowhere to be found, and the list shows the top 300 free apps.

outlook on android

I know the app is in the Play Store because I installed it on my Moto X last night. So I did a quick search in the Play Store for Outlook and found it tucked in among other apps that have Outlook in their name or have to do with email. Google does share download numbers, or at least ranges of them, and here’s how Outlook is faring on Android: It has between 1,000 and 5,000 downloads. Maybe folks are happy with their Gmail app?

Frankly, I don’t get it.

Perhaps the Play Store figures don’t update as frequently as the iTunes App Store, but there are also a few other possibilities. And to be clear: I don’t think one of them is that Outlook is a bad or poorly written app. In the short time I’ve used it, I’m extremely impressed: The interface is clean, there are smart actions based on swiping an email (including the scheduling of an event and archiving a message), there’s a great integrated calendar and the app seamlessly allows for attachments from cloud services such as OneDrive and Dropbox.

The bigger problem here may be app discovery. That search for Outlook yielded these results with the app showing farther down than Dropbox’s Mailbox app, for example.

outlook in play store

It shouldn’t be this difficult to find the app in the Play Store. I’m also wondering if the majority of Android users flock to the latest and greatest apps as quickly as iPhone users do.

Anecdotal evidence suggests this because of  iOS user engagement for example, and more app downloads per device. I’ll be doing some digging for data on the latter point as I haven’t seen any recent information on apps per device; back in 2013, Asymco’s Horace Dediu wrote that there were an average of 83 apps on a typical iOS device but just 53 per Android device. That has likely changed, but based on my own observations, my iOS friends typically have more apps installed than my peers with Android phones. And in December, Chitika Insights released quarterly data showing iOS accounting for 46 percent of app usage and 52.5 percent of web usage on devices in North America.

Regardless of the reasons, it’s a shame to see that Android users haven’t jumped on the new Outlook app the way iPhone owners have. It’s a well-written app that could displace Google’s own Gmail app for many people — if they know about it, that is.