Blog Post

What Platforms Will Have Mobile App Devs in 12 Mos?

A few weeks ago, we conducted a survey of app developers across our own sites in partnership with app analytics company Distimo. In the survey, we asked developers for which platforms they’re developing apps, what types of apps they’re making and what plans they have for the future.

Of surprise to practically no one: Most survey respondents are developing for the iPhone (79 percent). More interesting, however, is looking at what other platform developers are both working on today and will be in the future.


Source: GigaOM Pro

Looking at where  developers are investing resources outside of iOS, the leading alternative platform was Android, with about four in 10 respondents developing for it (39 percent). Browser-based/HTML apps were the second leading alternative (26 percent), while BlackBerry was third (12 percent).

Where it gets interesting is when we ask which platforms developers plan to create apps for in the future. While most will continue working on iOS, we saw over a 50 percent increase in those that said they plan to work on Android apps (from 39 percent to 61 percent) and a doubling of interest in Windows Phone apps (from 9 percent to 18 percent). BlackBerry also saw increased focus 12 months out: 19 percent up from 12 percent today. It should be noted this survey was taken before RIM’s news this week.

Which platforms didn’t get a lot of love, now or in the future? Symbian didn’t see much interest, with just 4 percent of developers using it today. Admittedly, however, our survey consisted of a large percentage of U.S. developers where the Symbian doesn’t have nearly the foothold as it does in Europe. WebOS also didn’t generate much interest for future development, perhaps a little surprising given the recent acquisition — and now backing from — HP.

I’ll be examining the results more closely tomorrow in a GigaOM Pro workshop at Mobilize entitled  “The Mobile App-Pocalypse: Are Mobile Apps the Mobile Content Savior or a Big Lie?” The workshop will include panelists Aaron Watkins, Derek Kerton, Camille LeBlanc and Timothy Lee in a conversation about app monetization, discovery and platforms. If you’re at Mobilize, please attend. If you have a question about mobile apps, just leave them in the comments below.

Image Source: flickr user Yutaka Tsutano.

12 Responses to “What Platforms Will Have Mobile App Devs in 12 Mos?”

  1. Michael, Thanks for insight. There are always questions/counter-questions about such surveys from people.. target audience..demographic.. geographic..etc. But your analysis does give food-for-thought. Also any thoughts on “what types of apps they’re making”?! Thanks.

    • Hey Neo – we did ask that question and there is quite a bit of variety. I’ll post on this later in a separate piece – but lots of games, productivity, social media, entertainment apps. Where it gets interesting is breaking it down by platform.

  2. It merits mentioning that the survey likely reached out to GigaOm network readers – a valley type crowd that is pre-disposed to things Apple and to a second order – Android.

    An earlier commenter alluded to this – commercial developers of mobile apps for enterprise applications are likely under represented.

    • We used GigaOM and also worked with a partner in Distimo to reach out to their audience (which is not affiliated with GigaOM at all and has a strong European representation). The results looked similar between both.

    • @Cyberbully – this includes Windows Mobile – which I should have indicated on the chart. So think of the Windows as both Windows Mobile and Phone 7.

      And doubling from a low number is not hard to do (i.e. WebOS). And what makes you think app dev’s wouldn’t want to develop for another platform? There are quite a few Windows dev’s out there in general that can start to develop for Windows Phone 7 if Microsoft starts to give them better tools and actually make a decent OS.

  3. B. Heetebrij

    It is indeed interesting to see that the Symbian and WebOS have the same levels of interest in 12 months time, while Symbian still is largest platform and WebOS is still the smallest platform.

    I agree with your explanation of a mainly US centric sample. Hopefully Qt on Symbian^3 and MeeGo can make a difference and will make Nokia interesting again.

    A second observation is the little increase in Mobile Web development. Mobile browser are getting more and more powerful, but the interest is clearly in apps.

  4. Cupertino Guy

    These stats are practically worthless. Do you actually realize how long 12 months is in the real world of mobile tech ?? It is equal to at least 10 years in the human growth calendar. Point being that huge amount of change can be excepted when looking that far over the horizon. I would look for Apple to greatly expand their iOS universe into device hear unto unthinkable from the non-genius crowd lurking outside Cupertinol. Steve’s vision is beyond comprehension to mere mortals like ourselves. My predication is APPLE will still rule the day just as they do today having zoomed past Microsoft to become the second largest company in the entire world (behind only Exxon-Mobil in market cap)!. The real question is by how much will they widen the gap. I say by plenty.

    Word to Android fanboys: BITE ME

    • @Larry – 350 or so respondents. Good mix of independent app developers, and some who also work for bigger app development shops. Not sure what you mean by IT vendors – that term I generally associate with large corporate hardware or software vendors. Some work for those, I imagine (we asked company size), but most worked for indies or smaller shops.