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WhitePages goes Android first with latest app

The Seattle app maker is so frustrated by Apple's long approval process, it launched its Localicious app today in the Android Market rather than in the iPhone App Store.

3 min read

When WhitePages launches its Localicious app on today, it will be in the Android Market rather than in the iPhone App Store.

There's a simple reason for that. Although WhitePages still sees iPhone owners as a key target, Apple's approval process is just too difficult to time a launch around. As evidence, the Seattle company notes that one of its apps, a reverse phone look-up directory, has been in Apple's hands for the past two months awaiting approval. So, this time around, the company decided to go Android first.

"I think we are going to see a lot of people start to ship Android first," WhitePages Chief Operating Officer Kevin Nakao told AllThingsD. "You can't be held hostage."

Localicious isn't the first app that WhitePages did first for Android. The company also has launched a Caller ID app for Android after finding, like others that wanted to offer such a service for iPhone, that Apple wouldn't allow the needed access.

Even when Apple does approve apps, it generally doesn't give a clear enough time frame to fully plan a launch, Nakao said.

"Marketing an application becomes increasingly important given the number of apps that are being published," Nakao said, noting that the company wants to time its product launches with a PR campaign as well as mobile, Web and social media advertising campaigns. "Since apps can still get tied up in the iOS approval process, it makes this marketing planning almost impossible."

Nakao's comments echo sentiments expressed earlier on Tuesday by Android co-founder Rich Miner, who now works for Google Ventures. Even though he works for Google, Miner said that he used to recommend mobile developers launch first for iOS because of the platform's size. These days, Miner said the size of the opportunities are more similar, while Android offers more flexibility, such as making it easier to allow developers to offer test versions prior to launch.

Android is not without its challenges either, of course. Developing for Google's operating system means testing for a large number of devices as opposed to just a couple of iPhone models.

Nakao notes that the company has two testers just for Android now. "I'd rather hire more people and have options," he said.

As for the app itself, it's a local search program. It's main distinguishing feature is that it allows people to search local listings by neighborhood as opposed to just geographic distance. That means users in San Francisco won't see listings for Daly City, Calif., unless they want to and those in Hollywood won't be forced to go over the hill to the Valley. More importantly, those in Manhattan's TriBeCa district won't be sent over a bridge to New Jersey just because it happens to be geographically proximate.

Nakao notes that there are more than 82,000 distinct neighborhoods within American cities, places with which most urban dwellers have an affinity. Localicious also aims to be more current by offering tips based on nearby places where people are "checking in."

"That way it is more alive," Nakao said.

Those who want to give Localicious a try can find it for free as long as they have an Android device--iPhone owners will have to wait until Localicious comes to their neighborhood.