Blog Post

Devs Say Android is Future-Proof. iOS? Not So Much.

While at the moment iOS (s aapl) is favored over Android (s goog), developers are saying that may change, if a recent study is to be believed.

The study, carried out by Appcelerator, in partnership with IDC, shows that 52 percent of developers believe the Android platform is “best positioned to power a large number and variety of connected devices in the future,” while only 25 percent said the same of iOS.

Out of over 2,400 developers polled, 91 percent said they were “very interested” in developing for Apple’s mobile platform, compared with only 82 percent who feel the same about the little green robot.

When the devs were asked which platform they thought had the best “long-term outlook”, 59 percent answered Google’s platform and only 35 percent said iOS. This gap has widened 10 points since Appcelerator’s last survey, carried out in June of this year.

Appcelerator says this gap has widened mainly because Android has the edge over iOS in the TV market. Developers noted that they were more interested in developing for Google TV than Apple TV. This isn’t surprising, since Apple TV doesn’t even have official app support yet.

Finally, almost all the developers said that the Oracle (s orcl) / Android lawsuit had very little impact on their enthusiasm for Android development, and the removal of restrictions on Apple’s part made no difference to the developers’ views of iOS.

Personally, I think the gap between Android and Apple, while it has widened, is still too small to provide any useful conclusions. All these developers were chosen for the poll because they used Appcelerator’s Titanium development kit, which lets devs code native applications using web-based languages. It could be that developers who use the official Google and Apple development tools feel differently about their chosen platforms.

Also, I’m not sure the phrasing of the question isn’t predisposed toward Android. More people said that Android will “power a larger number and variety of connected devices” than iOS in the future, but that’s obvious; iOS is designed to only be run on Apple’s hardware. Android is made for all sorts of manufacturers’ devices, so there are clearly going to be more running the platform.

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19 Responses to “Devs Say Android is Future-Proof. iOS? Not So Much.”

  1. It is interesting that they see the OS as “future-proof”, because I don’t think Google sees it that way. Google is planning on replicating or replacing much of the Android market with Chrome OS, I do not see that as future-proof.

  2. Appcelerator’s survey subjects are part of a small minority of developers who are using the Appcelerator Titanium cross-platform development tools which are used in 4,000 iOS apps, which amounts to only 2% of the 250,000 apps in the App Store.

    As only 3% of iOS developers target both iOS and Android, it is very dangerous to assume that these cross-platform Appcelerator customers represent the views of the much larger iOS development community.

    As such, this survey does not by any means represent a cross-section of the mobile development community, but rather a small and potentially strongly biased subset of cross-platform developers.

    A previous study in July by AppStore HQ of every published iPhone, iPad and Android developer currently in the Apple App Store or Android Market demonstrated that there is only a tiny percentage of developers engaged writing software for both Android and iOS:

    iOS developers = 43,185
    Android developers = 10,199
    iOS & Android devs = 1,412

    Considering a vastly larger percentage of iOS developers use Apple’s Xcode IDE and do not develop cross-platform, Appcelerator’s results are by no means definitive of the sentiments of mobile developers and verge on useless when attempting to extrapolate the results to the wider market.

    The fact that iOS developer income is 50x greater ($1 billion) than Android Marketplace dev income ($21 million) demonstrates a vast gulf in the profitability of each platform, a fact not reflected in the survey results. Note that the Android Marketplace launched only 3 months after the iOS App Store.

    Apart from these concerns about the statistical validity of this data, the advertised gist of the study is misleading considering the study itself indicates that iOS overwhelming wins 10 of the 14 categories including best long-term hardware distribution strategy, best near-term outlook, best revenue opportunity, best app store, biggest consumer market, biggest business market etc etc.

    As such it is iOS that has by far the most going for it, as even the subjects of this biased survey state.


  3. Just look at the explosion of Google phones. Would it appear that SOMEBODY is interested in making them and buying them. Of course it is succeeding.

    …and if you were paying attention Nick, Android 3.0 will significantly address those concerns you just brought up. Google was aware of this problem long ago and had already started work on it. Look for Android 3.0 next month.

  4. @JBR
    Really , you couldn’t have said it any better. You hit it right where it mattered the most. Although its quite confusing to attempt to have an accurate visionof the future of these companies and their platforms, one can only speculate based on the reasons you already mentioned

  5. The meaning of ‘future-proof’ for a dev is extremely debatable in any case. “Write once, run everywhere, never rewrite” is not going to happen, ever. What’s certain is that any app written for either iOS or Android will have to be actively maintained and modified, if not actually rewritten, several times over the next few years.

  6. This is a interesting ongoing argument. First Apple invented the OS and how it works. Google copied the style and did a relatively good job. I think we have Coke and Pepsi here. Coke is a bigger brand, Pepsi sells more.

    Look at History of the Mac and PC.

    1. Apple invented the windowing environment with the mouse. If Steve Jobs had continued to work at Apple (he was fired by Scully) he would have continued to reinvent the Mac as he did when he came back to Apple. Microsoft with a seriously flawed piece of software went broad with multi platform and took the majority of the market share. But they never invented anything new. Apple with Jobs would have continued to invent but without him they just stagnated.

    2. Fast forward. Mac is back, tell me the last time you saw a windows product in a Movie? Everyone loves the look of the Mac. Now iOS. Look at what is happening with the adoption of Pad’s. There was no Pad market before. So Apple sets the pace. Everyone with Android will follow. But because Android will be on so many platforms it will probably get majority marketshare and mindshare. Doesn’t have to be as good. The pure buyers will prefer a Apple, the other will use Android cause it is good enough and tens times better than anything Microsoft ever made.

    I use a Android phone and connect to my Mac. I am happy with it. My kids have iPhones and iTouch. They wouldn’t use Android, not cool enough for them!!

    Thanks for the Article. Last thought, all the other OS’s including Palm, RIM, etc.. Too late. Remember this. Few are interested in what is better, everyone is interested in what is new.

  7. Paul Johnson

    Presumably the reason to post the results of an industry poll on a newspaper’s website is that an objective polling organization employing a random sampling system produces an informative result. This poll? Conducted by AppCelerator, described by Wikipedia as “frequently compared to Adobe Air for developing desktop applications for Windows, Mac and Linux.” A cross-platform software development company which has been inconvenienced by Apple’s development rules. Its helper? IDC, an analyst firm owned by IDG. IDG? A hired-gun firm paid by Microsoft, among others, to do disparaging articles and research on other companies.

    Isn’t the developer community big enough to able to support pollsters who don’t have an axe to grind?

      • Responsible reporting

        Saying don’t shoot the messenger just smacks of irresponsibility.

        This isn’t an auto-publish – someone (you) decided this article was interesting and decided to post it with your name next to it.

        If the converse happened, that this article got quoted in a million places, I’m sure you wouldn’t be saying “Don’t quote me or my site!”.

        For web journalists to be taken seriously, they must have pride in themselves and their profession – to take responsibility for what they write or write about, even if it turns out to be wrong.

      • @”Responsible reporting:” Thank you! You’ve just splashed bright red paint all over the elephant in the blogging-as-“journalism” room. A legitimate journalist, regardless of his medium, researches and discloses the biases of his sources, particularly when those sources are providing justification for writing an “analysis” piece. The original post was written with the clear intention of encouraging one type of economic activity over another; the fact that cui bono was made deafening by the silence with which it was treated says everything I need to know about the professional ethics of the “reporter,” his editor, and the organisation which employs them. I’ll take anything from any of the above that I read in future with a very large grain of salt.

  8. apexofkryptos


    Not only were the survey questions biased towards Android, but so was the sampling pool!

    The fact that Android didn’t receive a 90% rating on that question is actually bad news for them!

  9. I strongly disagree with the idea that Android is better positioned for the future. I think it’s the worst positioned actually.. Heres why: it’s going to run on many form factors, many more devices.. Why is that a bad thing? Think about it.. When you download and iPhone/iPod touch app, the controls, graphics, everything is designed for the 3.5″ screen. When you download an iPad app, the controls, menu options, graphics, everything is optimized and designed for a 9″ screen, not to mention we got big brother Apple making sure the apps don’t steal our information or arent a waste of space..Now take an android tablet.. 4″ screens? 10″ screens, 3″ screens, maybe even 13″ tablet screens? What do you design for? How will the customer know it’ll use the screen real-estate properly? This is not a desktop OS. Windows was advantageous because it didn’t matter about the screen size and was available on many different hardware options: they were windowed-application. Mobile applications are meant to fill up the screen, which means you need the hardware and software to be overseen by the same company. Even if the android market gained more total apps than the app store, be rest assured that 60% will not be optimized for your size screen and if steps were taken to make sure the app ran fairly on many sizes, not only would that take more work on nonsense for the developer, it would also give everyone buying the app on different sized and featured devices a sagging experience. Its a lose lose situation..An offering from RIM or maybe HP, now that they’ve purchased Palm, will present more competition. Android is poised to fall flat on it’s face. Everything about it is a mess.

    • You don’t develop software. Do you?

      Android Market does have a useful feature to address your concern, however. Unlike Apple’s App Store they offer refunds.

      And by the way, Apple does nothing more than Google does to make sure apps don’t actually steal your data.

      • No I’m not a developer for android, but I highly doubt any “feature” could take the place of the simplicity of designing an interface for one size of screen and I doubt this “feature” could seamlessly mimic an interface designed for a specific screen in terms of customer experience, won’t even get into pixel differences that would arise. And I also doubt that Google monitors the security of the apps as closely as Apple.. That part is of course totally my opinion, but Apple has earned that type of trust from me until they give us a reason not to. And app refunds? Lol.. i’d prefer they review apps submitted to ensure quality rather than offering shitty apps having to get refunds.. Not to mention that there is a huge amount of apps in iOS app store for free anyways.. All in all, people will soon discover what I’m saying right now and will recognize that mobile operating systems and apps are a completely different ball game and that iOS is positioned beautifully for the future while Android is a sloppy mess.

      • Doesn’t matter what developers think. Android is and will continue to fail. Take it from Nokia’s CEO, he put it the best when asked why Nokia doesn’t adopt Android. He basically said adopting Android is akin to a kid urinating on himself to keep warm. Now, you may not like the analogy, but he is right on. Need evidence? Ok, go take a look at the profits these Android handset makers are raking in. They are losing money folks and they are losing it because of the failed Android business model. Why is it important to make a profit you ask? Because profit is needed to continue to innovate and improve their products. Android handset makers are realizing they are making nothing by building a handset based off of Android utilizing Google’s business model. What are the chances they will rise above this and start taking some of that profit pie that Apple, RIM and Nokia own? Slim to none. Notice the three companies that control all the smart phone profits have absolutely zero to do with Android. This is not a mistake folks.

        If developers are smart, they wouldn’t spend a nickel developing for Android, it has no future.

      • “And by the way, Apple does nothing more than Google does to make sure apps don’t actually steal your data.”

        You sure? at least Apple has to approve all the apps.

        Does Google?

      • Having developed for both platforms, there’s a big part of going-back-to-my-libertarian-child self that wants to root for Android, simply because there is more apparent variety there. Then the “grownup me” kicks in and just wants to Get Something Done with my data without doing an inordinate amount of fiddling to get there. That’s why I left desktop Linux for the Mac to begin with, and that’s what I’m betting lots and lots of other folks will do, too. Not all, of course; maybe not even the majority outside a select demographic. Android could still make a fortune from the male under-25s… if there were one “Android” instead of n-to-the-n fighting over who gets more than a few crumbs from a well-demarcated pie.

        As an investor, as a developer, I’m far more interested in a company that provides a uniform experience to 30-40% of the theoretically-possible market than I am to one that gives me 100% of a tiny piece of the remainder.

        And I’ll bet my bottom dollar that if Android is still around in five years’ time, there will be differentiation; not all apps will run properly on all “Android x.0″ devices, for just the reasons Nick discussed.

    • Since the same logic holds true for apple pc’s vs windows pc’s it would seem that it does not lead to overwhelming marketshare. Windows has always been expected to function on devices of sizes, form factor and brand that Microsoft could never have even imagined. Apple has always known what device iOS needed to blend in to. While apple has the cool factor, Windows based pc’s have always had the marketshare.