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Why Developers Still Prefer iOS To Android 614

Posted by timothy
from the addictive-chemicals-are-my-theory dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google Chariman Eric Schmidt recently addressed an Android user lamenting the fact that that mobile apps are often released on Apple's iOS platform well before they finally reach Android. Schmidt cooly and curiously explained that this dynamic will change in just 6 months. Here's why he's wrong. Though Google brags about the total number of Android users, developers care about certain kinds of users (those that pay for apps). A similar dynamic can be found in television advertising, where advertisers will more money for ad spots on less popular shows in order to reach desirable demographics, even though other programs may have many millions of more viewers."
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Why Developers Still Prefer iOS To Android

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  • by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:02PM (#38389606)
    It's not only on television advertising, it happens with every kind of advertising. Internet, newspapers, magazines, even billboards. That's what makes both Google and Facebook advertising so lucrating and why Google is so desperately wanting to get their own social network - advertisers can directly target users with certain interests. Advertising to people with no interest about such things is useless. For example, Google has many advertisers targeting searches that might get searched only a few times a month, but when they do, advertisers are happy to pay more than $50 per click. They could get standard banner advertising to tens of thousands users at that price, but those are useless to them if it's a very targeted product or service. TV advertising mostly just works for brand names or products that almost anyone has use for. With internet you can target very specific people.

    Now the thing is, this targeting translates badly to applications and games. When user plays games, he isn't interested in anything else. It's completely different situation to some where the user is actively looking for something. This is why app developers make better money by selling their apps or games. However, Android users aren't as willing to spend as iOS users. They have even got used to the idea of getting their apps for free with advertising. But because advertising isn't really effective for such, Android app space in general suffers badly. On top of that you have to deal with fragmented devices and Google's ignorance regarding their app store. You can buy gift cards for iTunes, but you cannot for Android store, so you're out of luck if you don't have credit card. So you have an userbase with fragmented market, increased support costs, users without ability to pay for apps even if they had cash and the general culture that expects free apps with ads where ads just don't work.

    The funny thing is that even Windows Phone market has comparatively more developers, apps and games. Microsoft has went at great lengths to make app developing for WP7 pleasant experience. They provide great tools, XNA, Silverlight and you can code with .NET. It is relative easy to port your games between Windows, XBOX360 and WP7. The same services are used for all platforms. And while the amount of users as large as Android or iOS, the users are paying for apps and is exactly the kind of crowd developers want. You also have less competition, so you can earn more easily.
  • by Toe, The (545098) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:04PM (#38389660)

    If I had posted the OP verbatim, it would be -1 flamebait faster than you can say "troll."

    Ah well... should be an interesting thread.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:05PM (#38389672) Journal

    Why Developers Still Prefer iOS To Android

    Is there something inherently better with iOS development? Is the API better written? Is there some technological inferiority to Android? Is it cheaper to buy the development tools for iOS?

    Oh, I see. What you meant to say is:

    Why Publishers Still Prefer iOS To Android

    And even that's sort of not very accurate. I mean, there are plenty of apps that are free and are on both Android and iOS like advertising based apps that want you to read some website's stories. And they just want to target the most users, not the most users who shell out money. So maybe it should be:

    Why Revenue Seekers Still Prefer iOS To Android

    Not everyone developing apps depends on that as their revenue stream.

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) * on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:06PM (#38389682)

    It's not surprising why app developers are betting on iOS over Android. According to the Flurry Analytics study, they make four times as much money on iOS [flurry.com]. Developers are also concerned about fragmentation, the lack of store curation, and lower penetration of Google Checkout among Android users compared to iOS users, who are always payment enabled through their iTunes accounts.

    Android's target demographic is hardcore techies combined with budget buyers unconcerned with smartphone quality. It actually makes very little money for Google, while iOS is generating obscene profits for Apple. Slashdot still fetishes marketshare as if it's the only metric that matters, but Android is actually like a whole bunch of operating systems with different capabilities.

  • Qt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:07PM (#38389708)

    Google should buy Qt from Nokia and use that toolkit as the basis for Android apps. It is already efficient as hell on smartphones (Meego and Symbian), and uses C++ as its programming language. No more worries about Oracle lawsuits, excellent programming environment. Mod this up.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taikiNO@SPAMcox.net> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:15PM (#38389890)

    Is there something inherently better with iOS development? Is the API better written? Is there some technological inferiority to Android? Is it cheaper to buy the development tools for iOS?

    FTFA

    Unfortunately for Google, this is just the tip of the iceberg with respect to the uphill battle they face in the fight for developers. Clunkier development tools for Android have been on ongoing problem, and let's not forget about the vast number of scamware, crapware and malware apps that permeate through the Android Marketplace. The lack of an approval process for apps on Android certainly has its benefits, but letâ(TM)s not forget thereâ(TM)s also a downside to being open.

    So you mean I get to use lousier development tools, potentially have my app hijacked by scammers looking to repackage my app as malware AND deal with fragmentation?

    SIGN ME UP!

  • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:18PM (#38389946)

    It actually makes very little money for Google, while iOS is generating obscene profits for Apple.

    The funny thing is that Android probably makes Microsoft more money than for Google. Microsoft gets something like $444 million annually from Android and they don't even need to develop it.

  • Why I only do iOS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tylersoze (789256) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:20PM (#38389966)

    It's real simple for me, Android is an awful platform to develop for (as are all the lowest common denominator cross platform API's). I have fun developing for iOS and really like the native API and developer tools. It's important for me to actually enjoy what I'm doing. I've definitely lost some projects because I don't offer an Android, but it's not really mattered since I have more work than I know what to do with anyway. Even after culling Android and only taking projects that really interest me, I still have to turn down projects because I'm already booked up.

    Android is just not my cup of tea, if it's yours, then more power to you.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taikiNO@SPAMcox.net> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:20PM (#38389976)

    Screw the language. Interface builder rocks. Using XML files with no WYSIWYG editor? Screw that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:21PM (#38389988)

    You know you're doing something wrong when RIM can claim (unchallenged) that the Blackberry App World is the #2 app store in terms of paid apps. #1 is, of course, Apple's App Store, but to have the #2 service be one from the #4 player is just... pathetic. (Windows Phone 7 is platform #3 after Android (#1) and iOS (#2)).

    There are many reasons for this.

    First, Google Checkout sucks. Yes, it does. When Android first came out, very few countries could access paid apps. As such, if you wanted to sell in the Google marketplace, you had to have free apps. The situation's better now, but you're still suffering from the fact that people found alternative ways to get paid apps for free. Google APKTor or the open-source counterpart.

    Second is that it's too easy to pirate apps. Google's APKs aren't DRM'd, so what people do is they buy apps, rip them, then return them. 15 minutes is enough time for this, and if it wasn't, they can always return and try again later. Given that there are almost daily "New Paid Apps" torrents on your favorite torrent sites... After all, the iPad was dinged as "cannot run pirate apps".

    Then Android users really don't want to pay for apps. I've seen some hardcore Linux users saying they'll never pay for apps - it should be FREE. Apparently, iOS users pay for 3-4 apps a month on average - Android stats are sketchier (C'mon Google - you just had 10B apps downloaded - how many of those were paid apps? Especially with the 10 cent deal?).

    Third, well, the fact you have to use your phone is a major drawback. iTunes sucks, but at least you can download your app on your PC first then sync it over rather than have to leave your phone alone while it downloads hundreds of megabytes of apps. Many apps use SD cards (and full SD permissions) to get around this by having a downloader app go and download all the game assets and such.

    Finally - fragmentation. Different screen sizes, different OS versions (a year after Gingerbread is released, it's on 50% of the devices. Which means roughly 100,000,000 out of the 200,000,000 Android devices run the what was latest and greatest OS. ALl the others run Froyo or prior (yikes). iOS has similar issues, but the number of people stuck at iOS 3 (only iPhone and iPhone 3G (iOS 4 doesn't run well so I'm not going to count it)) is fewer than those capable of running iOS 4/5, plus a number are upgrading. Ice Cream Sandwich will resolve this (Google's words), and maybe by tihs time next year we'll have 50% of Androids running ICS.

    Then there's the black sheep - AOSP. Without access to the market, it has to use alternative marketplaces, bringing us back to piracy.

  • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GodInHell (258915) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:24PM (#38390028) Homepage

    It actually makes very little money for Google, while iOS is generating obscene profits for Apple.

    This has nothing to do with Google giving the OS away for free. Obv.

    -GiH

  • Re:Rich Users (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@@@lunarworks...ca> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:38PM (#38390302) Homepage

    You scoff at them spending $20 on a pencil at an art store, they scoff at IT people spending $300 on a "server grade" hard drive they can get for $65 at TigerDirect.

  • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:38PM (#38390308)

    If I was going to totally through ethics out the window for the pursuit of profit as an "App" developer, I'd easily choose the Apple monoculture. Lets face it, Apple users are used to being free with their money; these people were, in a year that wasn't prefixed by "199", paying $40-60 for a bloody unzipping program. Now, these same people have paid a bloody fortune for a locked down phone and again for a locked down tablet which are both predicated on an "it just works, so long as you make sure you always buy the new one" monoculture, and attached their credit card they use for impulse purchases to it That's PT Barnum-level temptation right there!

    So long as one doesn't mind paying for dev access and isn't interested in making programs that strain social mores and/or step on Apple's toes, once you've made it past the gate the walled garden I'm sure appears glorious. You don't have to worry about multiple hardware/software platforms outside the well-documented and very limited iSphere, you are assured your userbase has someone's money to spend, and so long as you abide by The Apple Way For Developers (tm) and kowtow properly to cocoa and objective C, you'll probably watch the dollars roll in.

  • by Laxori666 (748529) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:45PM (#38390410) Homepage
    Hah, I find it funny that this post is modded flamebait.
  • by wilson_c (322811) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:53PM (#38390524)

    The best thing about being inside the walled garden is that it muffles the sound of all the sanctimonious twits whining endlessly because they attach ethical judgements to to the most tedious of consumer choices.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:54PM (#38390538) Journal

    Windows Phone market has comparatively more developers, apps and games.

    False.

    And while the amount of users as large as Android or iOS

    False.

    (I won't even bother with references, because it is literally 10 seconds away in Google. Sapienti sat.)

  • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rennt (582550) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:54PM (#38390546)
    I'm so sick of people getting this wrong. Android is completely free (as in beer). If you want to ship Google Apps you need to certify your device which costs money, but that don't stop the likes of Amazon from shipping millions of devices without paying a dime to Google.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @06:57PM (#38390596)

    I do remember a time when software was actually tested before being published. Now it seems everyone insists on public, paying betatesting.

  • by bonch (38532) * on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:00PM (#38390632)

    It's interesting watching the moderation on your post. Slashdot is heavily pro-Android and pro-Google, but the fact is that even developers agree with the points you made, according to the study cited in the article. We all saw the result of constant fragmentation and configurability when it came to Linux on the desktop--it never arrived. Now, the same is happening with Android, and it's leading to what is practically a bunch of different Android operating systems all getting lumped together to trumpet a marketshare figure but not really compatible with each other. Developers are the ones most aware of this because they see the hardware and software at a low level.

    As for the corporate sector, I actually think Microsoft may make headway there due to historical relations with the enterprise and a willingness to cater to them. But certainly Apple has a chance as well.

  • The Desktop Mirror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:00PM (#38390634)

    Android's target demographic is hardcore techies combined with budget buyers unconcerned with smartphone quality.

    Which will quickly massively outnumber Apple's demographic.

    What would you base that assessment on? If that were true why would lInux, which had exactly the same combination of possible buyers (techies plus people seeking really budget computers) not have beaten Windows long ago?

    It's amazing to me that so many computer literate people here are utterly unwilling to see the impact that software has on the platforms people chose to use.

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:02PM (#38390664)
    So you use Android consumers as beta testers while you iron out the bugs in a rushed, poorly tested product?

    I know I'm going to be modded troll but, sorry, that's what your "interesting" post sounds like - you prefer to release to Android first because you can quickly and rapidly fix problems rather than taking the time to properly build and test your app before releasing it into the market.

    I'm even going to go one step further in my near-trollish commentary: you're one of the reasons that Android users are less inclined to actually spend money on an app because developers likely rush them out whereas iOS developers take extra time to make sure it's "just right" before putting it out because it's such a headache to fix problems. iOS users are more confident in a reliable app while Android users are faced with buggy initial releases. I don't know, call me crazy (or a troll, as you wish), but I wouldn't rush out to spend money on an Android app if your view is indicative of the majority of Android developers....
  • Re:Qt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:03PM (#38390672)

    You shouldn't say "mod this up" in your own post. You actually have an excellent idea, and people who might otherwise mod it up without you telling them to do so will be less inclined to because nobody likes to be told what to do.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:11PM (#38390786)

    Android vs iOS. The same is happening here with the Android platform having a significantly larger userbase.

    But I think this is more because Android is "free" as in "beer", not "free" as in "free speech".

    Very few people buy Android because they can download the source code for it (some of it), or because they can root it and run a custom version of Android.

    Most people buy it because the device is at a better pricepoint than the iPhone or has features/formfactor that they want.

    I love my Android device, but think IOS is more polished and runs better. But I don't want to give up my keyboard.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:13PM (#38390810)

    We *don't* prefer iOS. And we definitely don't prefer Apple being able to just reject our six-figure 3-6 month project because the "moon is just not right today".

    We only know that IDevices are usually used by total retards that can be tricked into giving all their money to *everything*. Even imaginary property. Even $500 "apps" that do nothing else than show that you paid $500 to get them, so you can brag about it.

    This is NOT an article. This is a deliberate piece of social-engineering propaganda (otherwise known as a "opinion piece" in the USA) with a deliberately suggestive headline that wants to make us think that something that is mere wishful thinking by the author's sponsors, is actually a general fact.

    It's social engineering 101. You learn that in the first hour: Replace the target's reality with a reality that causes the target to think and act in a way that furthers your goals. Do it by assuming your designed reality has been, is, and will always be how reality is, and that everybody has always thought this way. ("We have always been at war with Eastasia")

  • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [retawriaf]> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:16PM (#38390854) Homepage

    You can't occupy 'high end' and 'numerically dominant' niches at the same time...

    That's TFA's whole point - Apple occupies the more important niche, "most lucrative/remunerative". Given the numbers in TFA, Android would have to outnumber Apple by almost fifty-to-one to equate to the same income to developers. But, because of Android's fragmentation, it's actually even worse for the developers. Think hundreds-to-one or thousands-to-one to get just one Android phone with the market penetration of the iPhone, and even then the user demographics will still skew radically differently.
     

    I don't mean this as trolling against Apple

    But that's pretty much all you have, because you missed the whole point of the article entirely.

  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:17PM (#38390860)

    This sounds like an argument for thoroughly testing your software and not releasing with bugs.

    Game developers have had similar issues on other platforms. It used to be that when you released on a cartridge you actually had to do good work the first time. You can't patch a cartridge in the wild. With internet connected consoles, the problem has been getting worse and worse. It used to be that when you bought a game at launch it was solid. Now you're pretty much guaranteed to get something extremely buggy until the first few patches, assuming you actually get the whole game and the developers haven't decided to favor an early release and just update the game with more content later, leaving you with a pretty threadbare experience.

    So if your complaint is that Apple makes things difficult if you don't write good code the first time, maybe the problem isn't with Apple. Heck, your description just made Apple's system sound much better to me. Why would I want to buy buggy games?

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:26PM (#38390976) Journal

    The big problem with WP7 today is that it's very hard to write code for it that would be portable to other platforms. With iOS and Android, you can write common code in C or C++, and only need to handle UI differently. In case of games, you pretty much write the whole thing in C++ with a few platform-specific hooks. But WP7 does not support C++, and the only thing it supports - .NET languages - is not well supported by other platforms. Sure, there's MonoTouch and MonoDroid, but they are too expensive - for this market, especially for hobby developers, $400 for each additional platform is a lot.

    Given that WP7 is significantly less popular, in terms of sheer user count, than either Android and iOS, there's no way it can be the first platform being targeted. So, it has to adapt to allow easy porting of code from other, better established mobile platforms, before it can have considerable success with developers.

  • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:30PM (#38391022)

    How does that help you when there is no installed base? Even if every user buys your app, when there are no users you make no sales. On top of that, your points are self defeating: If by some miracle they actually gained some market share then other developers would follow the users, and you would immediately lose the advantage of the lack of competition.

    There is just no incentive to be an early adopter of WP7, which is why it hasn't (and won't) go anywhere. There need to be users before you can get developers, and there need to be developers before you can get users. They need some actual advantage over the existing competition in order to bootstrap, like Apple had with the original iPhone or Google has by making Android free, but now those are the baseline and Microsoft doesn't have anything that can beat them in a sufficiently drastic way to overcome the lack of apps. Plus, nobody likes Microsoft on general principles.

    On top of that, you can throw all of the "Apple is better than Google because diversity sucks" arguments at them: Who wants to promote the establishment of another app store and development platform? All that does is create more work for developers. Why should they promote such wasteful duplication of their own effort by producing apps for a platform that presently has no significant number of users?

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @07:40PM (#38391128)

    Flurry analytics are free. Flurry make their money from advertisers. Android is more of a platform for ad-supported software than iPhone. So what's your theory for the bias towards iPhone in Flurry's stats? All things being equal the bias ought to be the other way.

  • by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2 AT anthonymclin DOT com> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:05PM (#38391406) Homepage

    Actually the original version of Android was specifically for blackberry-style devices with a physical keyboard and some kind of d-pad like interface.

    Read his post again, did he say that Android copied Apple anywhere? No, he pointed out valid underlying architectural and business reasons why these issues exist on Android devices.

    Yes, Android today is designed for many different form factors and input methods. But ultimately when you design for many different things, you end up building to a lowest common denominator, and sacrifices are made. I think you argued his point for him actually. Since Apple requires all their devices to have GPU-acceleration, IOS benefits. Android doesn't require it, and so you have to build your apps to specifically take advantage of it. By targeting cheap devices, they sacrificed user experience.

    Oh, and considering how secretive Apple is, and that Android was announced before the iPhone, who else would Android be competing agains in the pre-iPhone marketplace? The playing field was Symbian (very small developer base) Palm (already dying as they started shipping WinMobile devices) Microsoft (with their very painful an kludgy Mobile OS which has since been killed) and Blackberry. Blackberry was the smartphone leader by a very large margin before the iPhone appeared.

    Stop pushing anti-Apple revisionist history. It's just as bad as pro-Apple revisionist history.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:09PM (#38391456)

    It's beyond me too. I remember when I went to classes to learn AutoCAD. Back in those days, much of the editing was with a keyboard. Of course things got better as more things were editable with mouse, stylus or trackball.

    Some people of course would like to pretend some machismo superiority from editing 3D models with a keyboard. But the truth is that direct manipulation using other devices is far better.

    Is that it? Does editing XML files for user interfaces make you feel like a grown up? Even though the resulting UI is worse and takes longer to create.

  • by JohnnyMindcrime (2487092) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:27PM (#38391710)

    I'm sorry, but you're out of your depth here and should probably stop at this point...

    What is your measure for stating that "Apple spends more time on developing their operating systems than Linux developers and/or Microsoft" because the statement is nonsensical.

    Firstly, Apple do NOT develop their own entire operating system, they actually use a FreeBSD UNIX core with some of their own stuff on top of it. Much of that FreeBSD core comes from Open Source development which also gets ported across to work on GNU Linux - so in that respect a lot of the development is actually linked between the two.

    Secondly, you comment on something you clearly know nothing about. "Linux" does not mean an operating system that looks and works the same way when you first boot it up, as it would for Windows or a Mac. Linux is *JUST* the kernel, everything else on top of it is (usually) a conglomeration of Open Source applications that are configured to work in a certain way - that is precisely why Linux is scaleable to run on anything from tiny embedded devices though desktop PCs to hulking great servers. ALL of them can be said to be "running Linux" but in each case, they are versions of Linux that look completely different with different applications running on different kernels that have been compiled for different CPU architectures. Therefore, just saying "Linux" means absolutely nothing to anyone.

    Thirdly, you're completely wrong anyway because you clearly have no understanding of the sheer scale of Open Source development that is actually out there. Open Source, contrary to what you may believe, is not *JUST* Linux but free software like OpenOffice.org, Firefox, GIMP and thousands of other tools that happily run not just on Linux but on Windows and Macs also.

    And, I'm sorry, but if you believe that the number of Windows or Apple developers, whilst both being very large in number, comes *ANYWHERE CLOSE* to the number of people who have been developing free software for essentially 30 years now when UNIX first came on the scene, then you need your head tested.

    Really, I'm not a Linux or Open Source evangelist, I believe people should just use the software that works best for them - but I'm not going to sit here quietly when someone with clearly no knowledge of the subject spouts out utter rubbish, like you have done.

  • It's the revenue (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @08:59PM (#38392056)

    I work for a small business that has a couple of apps on both iOS and Android. Posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

    In a typical month, we net $20k from sales on iOS and $3k from sales on Android. The apps are nearly identical, the copy in the store *is* identical. The only differences are layout changes to make it feel natural on each platform. Yet actual app usage is roughly equal between the two, as measured by server requests/day.

    Two lessons: 1) The Android demographic is much less likely to pay for applications (at least ours), and 2) Piracy is a much bigger problem on Android.

    We're developing a new app that and rather than doing simultaneous release on iOS and Android, we're doing iOS first and will use its revenue to gauge whether the Android version is worth doing -- after a month or two we'll see what the ROI on Android would be at 15% of whatever the iOS version is doing.

    This sucks, because I use an Android phone and prefer Android myself. But as a small company we would be crazy to devote the same resources to a platform that underperforms in revenue.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @09:59PM (#38392676) Homepage Journal
    The iOS dev tools are $599 but they come with a free computer [apple.com]. Furthermore, you have to pay per year to be able to run programs that you compiled on an iPod, iPhone, or iPad that you bought. The Android dev tools, on the other hand, run on any computer that can run Java, including the one you're more likely to already own (a Windows or Linux box), and "adb install" is free.
  • by sydneyfong (410107) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @11:12PM (#38393378) Homepage Journal

    Your sig might have something to do with it...........

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