Developers Confirm: This Is The Year Of The Tablet

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Developers apparently were tuned into the tablet parade at CES and are making bets on the armada of Android tablets, the iPad and the BlackBerry PlayBook. That’s the message from the most recent Q1 2011 Appcelerator/IDC developer survey, which polled Titanium web developers looking to go mobile immediately following the Consumer Electronics Show.

While interest in the iPhone remains on top according to 92 percent of the 2,235 developers surveyed, second place is now a tie between Android phones and the iPad 87 percent, both of which saw a modest rise in interest. But the biggest spikes in interest were for Android tablets, which jumped 12 percentage points to 74 percent and the BlackBerry PlayBook, which also increased 12 percentage points to 28 percent of developers saying they’re interested in the platform.

With Android Honeycomb, Google’s tablet optimized version of Android, ready to hit the market and soon power dozens of tablets, it’s not surprising that developers are looking in Android’s direction. The rise in PlayBook interest also confirms that RIM had a good showing at CES, even as doubts continue to mount around its BlackBerry smartphones. Now, the survey data is just a snapshot in time from Jan. 10-12. Apple has since announced that it sold 7 million iPads in the fourth quarter last year and if the iPad 2 meets expectations, that will no doubt goose greater interest in the iPad. HP also has a chance to turn some heads when it unveils its webOS line-up next month: for now, the survey shows that interest in the expected webOS tablet from HP remained steady at a low 16 percent.

The good news for mobile platform competitors is that developers appear willing to place more bets on different devices. Last year, programmers primarily wrote for two devices, but many surveyed are planning to support four devices this year. And they’re expecting to almost triple the number of apps they plan to make this year, from 2.3 last year to 6.5 this year.

But overall, the numbers confirm that iOS and Android handsets and tablets are still the biggest priorities for app developers. The question for devs is after they’ve done an iPhone app, do they port to Android phone or iPad? With Android tablets set to burst on the scene, it now gives developers one more option to consider.

Here are some more interesting highlights from Appcelerator’s Q1 developer survey:

  • .Developers are losing interest in developing for TVs Interest in Google TV dropped 11 points to 33 percent while Apple TV lost 10 points, down to 30 percent. If Google had done a better job with its Google TV launch, we might have seen more interest. But with that product looking less promising for now and Apple TV still not open to developers, programmers are starting to look elsewhere.
  • Amazon’s Android App Store could be a decent contender. While 82 percent of developers were interested in distributing apps through Android Market, 37 percent said they are interested in the Amazon App Store, followed by the Verizon VCAST App Store (13 percent), and GetJar (9 percent). It’s interesting how much interest there is in Amazon’s store when it just got announced and isn’t even open to the public. It seems developers are open to alternatives Android Market.
  • Developers said the biggest success factors for Android tablets will be price (57 percent), and minimized fragmentation (49 percent). Apple seems to have done a good job pricing the iPad because many contenders are having trouble undercutting the iPad much, if at all, on price.
  • Interest in Windows Phone 7 rose by 8 percent to 36, based on a perceived decent launch by Microsoft and some generally favorable reviews of the user interface. But as the launch excitement fades, Microsoft will have its work cut for it to keep getting more developer attention, especially as the tablet opportunity explodes.

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