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For the first time this year at Mobile World Congress, an entire building was roped off for application developers with each day of the inau…

Mobile World Congress 2010
photo: Tricia Duryee

For the first time this year at Mobile World Congress, an entire building was roped off for application developers with each day of the inaugural App Planet being hosted by another player — Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC), Motorola (NYSE: MOT), Research In Motion and Google’s Android.

While the rest of the show — spanning seven other halls — focused on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and the rapid proliferation of Android devices from too many handset-makers to count, I ducked into App Planet to get an unofficial litmus test for what the buzz is among developers.

Keep in mind, when talking to developers, you mostly get a sense of what’s hot over the next three months, since typically that’s their development cycle. What I learned was this: Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) continues to rule because it brings in the most business; Android is a distant second; BlackBerry is promising; Symbian is dead to the world; and Microsoft’s year-end Windows 7 release is too far away to care about. But while those were the opinions of some, participation spoke louder than words: at one point at BlackBerry’s event, fewer than 100 people were listening to a power point presentation, and at Google’s event, it was completely sold out with a line forming just in case there was room for more.

The attention on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is not a huge surprise. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt keynoted on the first day and seeded conversation for the week by announcing that 60,000 phones running Google Android were being shipped a day. Also, an untold number of Android devices were unveiled this week, including higher-profile launches from Sony Ericsson, Huawei, HTC and Motorola (which announced its eighth device).

However, when chatting with a number of developers during BlackBerry’s presentation on Tuesday, the message was that it was still mostly about the iPhone. Kevin, a so-called Android consultant, even admitted that Android “is hot right now, but also some people aren’t feeling it.” Simon Maddox, a UK-based developer who makes apps for large brands, said iPhone requests still dominate. “First, brands ask for the iPhone, and then if any money is left over in the budget, it’s Android.” Now he’s particularly busy fulfilling requests for the iPad. “After it was announced, I got a ridiculous amount of emails from brands.”

But things can change quickly. As Maddox recalls, there was not a single Android device on display at MWC last year. While Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) announced that it was going to start selling its first, the only place to get a sense of the platform was at the HTC booth, where there was a video. That sounds a lot like Microsoft’s Windows 7 this year. Announced on Monday, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is only showing videos at its booth, and won’t have products in the market until late this year. Details on what kind of developer community Microsoft will create are still completely up in the air.

As for Symbian, the prospects are dwindling. The developers said despite growing up in the UK, where Nokia (NYSE: NOK) was the dominate brand, they’ve started writing them off. While Nokia’s user base is larger than Apple’s, it’s not as active. The Ovi Store also has its set of challenges with downloading errors and carrier billing difficulties, they said. And, now, Nokia doesn’t even have a booth at the show — and didn’t drum up any support by releasing a new device. In comparison, even BlackBerry is becoming more interesting as the devices become popular worldwide and expand from the enterprise to consumers.

Also, gathering quite a lot of buzz is the idea of widgets and developing on a common technology that could run across multiple platforms. On Monday, two dozen carriers announced that they were forming an alliance to create an

By Tricia Duryee

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  1. Interesting article. With Symbian and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Series not even registering on the radar, it makes the mobile market a 2 horse race between iPhone and Android. I think we’ll see Android make more gains in 2010 with the plethora of Android handsets coming onto the market.

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  2. Win mobile 7, in the on-line demos I’ve seen, looks most unimpressive, but even if it rocked, a device won’t ship for quite a while. Developer “buzz” around it, 8-10 months in advance, would be premature. Android is having a “moment in the sun” because it is new, but should fade away pretty soon. It has exactly one advantage over the iPhone– it is not on ATT. This is a US ONLY advantage, and NOT a huge one– Verizon sucks more than ATT, IMHO. Palm actually had better prospects than Android, since it wasn’t fragmented over multiple handset makers, but, being inferior also to the iPhone, fizzled pretty quickly. Android’s best shot at success would be to improve the OS a LOT, and tie to only one really, really competent handset maker– I’m not sure who that would be.

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  3. Android is shipping 60,000 handsets a day. Well, that is different from selling 60K a day. This is Google spin. I have seen only 1 Android powered phone. I see mostly iPhones, Blackberries. Our tech guy has a Windows 6.5 phone.

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  4. But how does this equate with the fact that a handset is more likely to run Symbian than any other os? To me it seems like most developers are falling for the hype around brands rather than business numbers and you’ve fallen into that trap too. No central app store and no big number to say how popular a(n app) platform is doesn’t mean it’s not the leading OS. Symbian is manufacturer independent and app store independent. It’s like equating information that’s being hyped to you, with information that you don’t know (and it seems like it’s information you don’t know you don’t know.)

    ‘The buzz’ among app developers doesn’t surprise me at all. I understand what ‘buzz’ is, how it’s fueled and what it really means. It means that Google and Apple can generate buzz. No news there.

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  5. iPad=Netbook_Killer Friday, February 19, 2010

    Everyone seems to think that the company that has the most market share makes the rules. In the mobile arena it’s definitely the company that brings in the most revenue and has the users that spend the most money. Apple will carry a lot of clout to make the rules.

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  6. The carrier alliance is a joke. Much smarter people tried and failed to do the same thing for desktop computers with Java. It’s a wast of time and money that the carriers could be spending on bettering their infrastructure because that’s the only thing of value they are going to have pretty soon.

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  7. First off, why does everyone compare Android to iPhone. Android is an OS that is not even sold by Google. Apple could care less about Android, they are not in competition with Android, they are in competition with handset makers. Divvy up 60,000 Android phones amongst all the handset makers, and what are you left with. But then again, Apple does not care about market share, they only care about revenue. They would rather see all these Android handset makers battling it out amongst each just like they do in the PC world. Apple is 3rd or 4th in PC sales, yet makes more profit then the top 3 combined. Its a joke to think Apple is concerned with market share.

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  8. Apple could care less about this gathering of wannabees.

    Apple is primarily concerned about making lots of profit. Marketshare doesn’t matter so much, though if the product is fantastic, then marketshare will be icing on the cake. With 40 Billion Dollars in Cash and growing, Apple is doing a fantastic job of making lots of money.

    Apple is secondarily concerned about making the best products they can that address consumers’ needs. Of course, Apple’s products are the leaders that everyone aspires to copy, though cannot.

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  9. One day I hope to qualify an lose the ‘so-called’ on my cards!

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