Black Duck Software ( — a global provider of products and services for automating the management, governance and secure use of open source software — have announced trends in mobile open source development platform choices that show Android leading the pack but Apple iOS still in the game.

Analyzing data from the almost 9,000 mobile free and open source software (FOSS) projects contained in the Black Duck KnowledgeBase, Black Duck found that of 3,800 new mobile projects started in 2010, the open-source Android leads as the platform of choice with 55% of the total. Apple’s iOS is a close second with 39%, and other platforms had a 2% or lower share of new projects. While Android is open, iOS is not, indicating that FOSS developers support the most popular platforms, regardless of their openness. Beyond the two leading platforms, Windows, Palm and Symbian have two percent or less of new projects and MeeGo has only a handful.

The number of FOSS mobile projects started in 2010 doubled from the previous year. The increase is attributable to the increased popularity of FOSS for mobile and the explosion of FOSS projects for mobile apps and games (particularly in Android, but for iOS as well.)

“Mobile software has the full and focused attention of commercial and FOSS development communities,” says Peter Vescuso, executive vice president, Black Duck Software. “As mobile apps displace desktop applications and mobile devices displace laptops and desktops we expect to see broad commercial developer interest in the top mobile development platforms, as well as consolidation in the number of platforms that draw developer support.”

Not all new FOSS mobile projects are developed for a specific platform, and some, but not all, are written for multiple platforms. While many mobile projects have large code bases (e.g., Android), a distinct trend in the 2010 results was the growth of apps, particularly smaller custom applications. Examples include a number of transit-related (bus, train) projects from around the world (Sri Lanka, Trondheim Norway, Germany, Spanish Railways), and the US (Seattle, Lafayette Louisiana, Massachusetts (MassRoute).  

In addition, projects created for single events are on the increase, e.g. an application in support of an Agile Development conference in Italy These and other small projects are made possible by the rapid development environments of top mobile platforms.

Many of 2010’s new mobile projects did not declare a license. Of those that did, the most popular were the GPL (all versions), MIT, Apache, BSD and Microsoft.

“Black Duck’s latest metrics concerning open source traction in mobile development confirm the importance of market opportunity for developer traction,” says Stephen O’Grady, principal analyst at RedMonk. “In concentrating on the Android and iOS platforms, developers are advantaging two differentiated platforms. While Android may be open source and iOS closed, they are both volume platforms, which indicates that developer pragmatism is alive and well.”