Survey: it's a tight race between Apple and Google in app development
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Survey: it's a tight race between Apple and Google in app development

Appcelerator -- a platform for developing native mobile, desktop, and iPad applications using web technologies -- has announced updated findings of its Mobile Developer Survey taken of application developers about their plans to build applications for various mobile and tablet platforms. And they find it's a tight race between Apple and Google.

Taken last week from a pool of Appcelerator’s 33,000+ application developers, 1,028 developers responded about their plans to prioritize iPad development within an increasingly fragmented and competitive landscape. This survey is posted at http://www.appcelerator.com/mobile-developer-survey .

The survey was taken as Appcelerator’s iPad beta concludes with a Titanium Tablet SDK officially rolling out on April 50. The Titanium Tablet will enable web developers to build 100% native iPad applications The findings show that the mobile platform landscape has evolved significantly during this first quarter. While Apple interest remains high, Android is almost neck and neck with iPhone, and two other providers -- RIM and Microsoft -- have renewed interest from developers due to improvements to their platforms.

When Appcelerator first surveyed its developer base prior to Apple’s iPad announcement in January of this year, interest in the platform was overwhelmingly high. Fast forward two months, and interest remains strong, but off the wild enthusiasm in January: 80% of developers now say they are interested in building an iPad app within the first year compared to 90% in January. When asked about overall interest in iPad as a development platform, 53% responded that they were ‘very interested’ – third behind iPhone and Android. As a point of reference, Amazon Kindle, surveyed for the first time, has only 12% of developers claiming a similar level of interest in its recently announced SDK (software development kit).

In follow-up interviews, Appcelerator found that moderating iPad interest was primarily due to a lack of a few features originally thought to be included in the iPad, such as a camera and support for multi-tasking. Moreover, developers with over 1,000 employees cited having an iPhone, Android, and/or Blackberry app as “critical,” while only 36% said they were very interested in the iPad.

On the other end, 54% of developers with 10 or fewer employees said they were very interested, as small companies look to claim a first-mover advantage in the App Store. As far as developer plans around the iPad, respondents cited eBooks, entertainment and media applications, business applications, medical applications, and education applications as likely candidates for planned apps on Apple’s new device, consistent with January’s results.

Increased competition among mobile platforms features a two-horse, tightening race between Android and iPhone. In January, 86% of developers were very interested in creating apps for the iPhone and 68% were very interested in doing so for Android – an 18 point spread. That spread has closed to just six points in the current survey (iPhone 87%, Android 81%, followed by iPad at 53%%).

While iPhone, Android and iPad are still the top application development candidates for developers, two platforms have made significant inroads with developers. Blackberry has doubled from 21% developer support in January to 43% in March, while Windows Phone has nearly tripled from 13% to 34%. Both vendors have announced major improvements to their device capabilities during the first quarter, which is clearly translating into market opportunity for developers.

On the other end of the spectrum are the mobile platforms in decline. Palm, at only 17% in January (but ahead of Windows), fell further to 14% saying they were very interested in the platform in March as financial troubles gave rise to developer concern. Meego -- the newly branded effort by Nokia and Intel -- came in at 12%, and Symbian at just 16%.

 

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