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.

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