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Devs Show Growing Interest in Android’s Versatility

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You’ve heard the familiar refrain that Android is growing in popularity with developers while Apple’s iOS remains the darling of the developer world. New data from Appcelerator and IDC suggests that with the coming rollout of new Android tablets and the launch of Google TV, combined with the strong momentum of Android on smartphones, developers are getting closer to switching their allegiance and throwing more support behind Google’s operating system.

In its latest survey of 2,363 developers in mid-September, Appcelerator, which enables developers to write for multiple platforms, found that the percentage of developers who felt Android had the best long-term outlook grew to 59 percent from 54 percent in June while iOS fell to 35 percent from 40 percent during the same period.

The results appears tied to other data that found 72 percent of developers said Android, “is best positioned to power a large number and variety of connected devices in the future,” compared to 25 percent for iOS. According to the survey, 56 percent of developers also said Android has the most capabilities compared to 36 percent for iOS. And the hard numbers show that Android smartphone sales eclipsed iPhone sales in the second quarter.

As Android tablets and Google TV apps become viable opportunities, the OS seems to be turning the heads of developers who can dream of writing for three non-PC screens using one operating system.

Android tablets were the fourth-most popular development opportunity with 62 percent of developers very interested, trailing the iPhone (91 percent), iPad (84 percent) and Android phones (82 percent). And 44 percent of programmers said they were very interested in writing apps for Google TV, compared to 40 percent for Apple TV, which is actually a good showing for Apple considering the company hasn’t said there will be apps on its set-top box.

Now, there’s no guarantee that Android will suddenly bump iOS as the primary platform for many developers. In fact, developers are so enamored with Apple that the shift, if it happens, could take a while to play out if it does.

In a comparison between Android and iOS, developers gave the overwhelming edge to iOS for best app store, best revenue opportunity, most apps, least fragmented hardware and best hardware.  Developers also said Apple (75 percent) had clearly the better near-term outlook compared to Android (20 percent).

Android also still has its shares of headaches for developers, like a mediocre app store and device fragmentation. Interest in the platform really is about chasing the future numbers, not necessarily a torrid love affair with Android. People see a wider future for Android, with more openness and more flexibility.

Apple, however, could possibly protect its lead if it formally announced app development on Apple TV. Developers still favor the iOS platform so throwing them another way to monetize their apps and get into the living room could forestall any shift to Android.

In some other interesting findings, four of five developers prefer native apps to mobile web apps. Also, 93 percent of developers said Oracle’s lawsuit against Google over its alleged use of Java in Android had no effect on their enthusiasm for Android while 83 percent of developers reported that Apple’s easing of app restrictions had no effect on their enthusiasm for iOS.

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Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user wallenstein.

16 Responses to “Devs Show Growing Interest in Android’s Versatility”

  1. Ryan, This data is actually not a true picture of the Mobile development scene.

    Appcelerator’s survey only polled developers who use Appcelerator’s Titanium cross-platform development product.

    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.

    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 as a whole 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 at all reflected in the survey results. Note that the Android Marketplace launched only 3 months after the iOS App Store.

    As such four times more developers target Apple’s iOS as compared to Android.


  2. One area which has significant consequences for the television and media markets is Apple’s restrictiveness on media applications. Developers in these areas will find it impossible to actually develop new distribution mechanisms within the Apple ecosystem.

    Google however needs to create better underlying technologies for such products across the Android ecosystem. Apple has the momentum, but has created a wall around its garden that will ultimately limit its growth. We are starting to witness new products that will change people’s perspectives of Android. These include the Alessi tablet concept for the kitchen.

    Personally having worked on products for the iPhone, and continuing in designing experiences across platforms, I am most interested in Android for the long haul. All development across iOS and Android should at this point be parallel even though this does prove difficult with Androids level of sophistication.

  3. Google’s control over APK files on the internet seems entirely lost: Apple has a pretty good lock on the use of their limited hardware offerings, but Google’s attempt to control access to the Android Market by requiring hardware manufacturers to meet CDD requirements that highly limit competitors from introducing inexpensive Android devices with scaled down functionality or innovative “form factors” such as tablets or digital cameras.

  4. Narayanan

    It is clear that the current numbers show overwhelming preference for iOS with 91 % developing for iPhone. However, any prudent person will try to keep his doors open for the long term. I don’t see anything beyond that in these comparisons. IOS works and it delivers, now and in the medium term.

    Apple has proven, time and again, that they always change the rules of the game and people will be scrambling after the puck again.