Appcelerator (http://www.appcelerator.com) — a mobile cloud platform for developing native mobile, desktop, and tablet applications using web technologies, and industry-leading analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC) — have announced results from a joint survey of more than 2,700 Appcelerator developers around the world.
The survey reveals that developer momentum is shifting back toward Apple as fragmentation and tepid interest in current Android tablets chip away at Google’s recent momentum gains. The report also reveals the rise of the “mobile cloud,” a major trend toward connected mobility that promises to partially address the issue of fragmentation and transform the relationship between business and customer.
The “Appcelerator-IDC Q2 2011 Mobile Developer Report,” taken April 11-13, shows that interest in Android has recently plateaued as concerns around fragmentation and disappointing results from early tablet sales have caused developers to pull back from their previous steadily increasing enthusiasm for Google’s mobile operating system. While this opens the door a crack for new entrants, nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that it is not possible for Microsoft, RIM, HP, and Nokia to reverse momentum relative to Apple and Google.
Underscoring the fluidity of the mobile ecosystem and in a peculiar turn of events, recent simultaneous drops in developer interest in Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry OSes move Windows Phone 7 ahead of BlackBerry to claim the third spot in developer interest. Also featured in this report is an analysis of the six layers of fragmentation (including Android) that are increasingly frustrating developers, a fresh take on mobile apps vs. mobile web, and a look at how the ubiquity of the ‘mobile cloud’ is addressing fragmentation and defining a powerful new trend toward always-on computing. The full report can be viewed at: http://appcel.us/q2_2011_report .
Apple iOS interest remains high with 91% of developers saying they are “very interested” in iPhone development and 86% are very interested in developing for the iPad. Google witnessed a plateau in its earlier momentum gains.
Reported interest in Android phones fell two points to 85% and Android tablets fell three points to 71% after increasing 12 points in quarter one. Although technically within standard deviations, these drops stand in contrast to steadily increasing developer interest in Android over the last year and are consistent with an increase in developer frustration with Android. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said that device fragmentation in Android poses the biggest risk to Android, followed by weak initial traction in tablets (30%) and multiple Android app stores (28%).
When it comes to fragmentation, Android’s issues are not the number one fragmentation concern among developers. In fact, fragmentation in mobile today is six layers deep. Android fragmentation only ranks third behind the fragmentation of skills (e.g.: Objective-C vs. Java), and the fragmentation of OS capabilities (e.g.: iOS vs. Android vs. WP7). This context sheds light on how fragmentation within the Android operating system compounds an already larger problem, and it will be a critical issue for Google to address and an opportunity for competitors like Microsoft, HP, Nokia and RIM to exploit.
While 71% of developers are very interested in Android as a tablet OS, only 52% are very interested in one of the leading Android tablet devices today, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Further down the list, only 44% are very interested in the Motorola Xoom and 31% in the upcoming HTC Flyer. Smaller players (Acer, Archos, etc.) register minimal interest. In short, the promise of an Android tablet is appealing, but the reality of currently, or soon-to-be, shipping devices is disappointing to developers.
Microsoft edges RIM to become the third horse, but there’s not much cause for celebration in Redmond as respondents’ interest in Microsoft and RIM dropped substantially compared to last quarter. Microsoft fell seven points, with only 29% of developers saying they are “very interested” in the Windows Phone 7, while BlackBerry phones dropped 11 points to 27%. On the upside, and partly as a result of Microsoft’s partnership announcement with Nokia, Windows Phone 7 interest fell four points less than BlackBerry to make Microsoft the new number three in developer interest behind Apple and Google.
Despite Android’s apparent plateau and potential slight pullback, the road to becoming number two will be long for either Microsoft or RIM. In fact, 62% of respondents say it will be impossible for anyone to catch up to market leaders Apple and Google.
Beyond market share concerns, however, Microsoft’s biggest problem with developers may simply be available time, as noted by the 46% of respondents who indicated, “I have my hands full with iOS and/or Android.” In addition to landing major distribution partnerships and exploiting Android’s fragmentation and security holes, making app migrations from iOS and Android to Windows Phone 7 easy and profitable for developers will be critical for Microsoft.
“Android remains an exceptionally strong OS but the cumulative effect of unresolved issues with the Android ecosystem is taking a toll on developers,” notes report series co-author Scott Ellison, vice president of Mobile & Connected Consumer Platforms, IDC. “The challenge for Google will be to better align app developer momentum with the momentum of Android device shipment numbers, and therein lies a competitive opportunity for Microsoft, Nokia and RIM.”