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App Report: Android Losing Developer Love, WP7 Trumps RIM

A recent report by mobile app development platform Appcelerator has revealed some very interesting facts about the views that the developer community is taking on the emerging trends in the mobile platform war. App developers using the Appcelerator Titanium platform participated in the survey conducted during April 11-13 2011 to reflect their thoughts on mobile platforms and which one they’re most optimistic about.

Apple’s strong app ecosystem is still the favorite among developers with a staggering 91% developers agreeing that they were ‘Very Interested’ in developing apps for the iPhone, and not surprisingly the iPad too found favour in the developer community. Developers are highly optimistic about the iOS platform and see Apple’s platform as most profitable too.

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Android’s popularity among the developers has taken a hit with fewer developers ‘Very Interested’ in developing apps for the platform citing fragmentation as the biggest challenge. In fact the report goes further suggesting that the future of android as a competitor to Apple’s iOS rests in the hands of Google and how they manage to bring the fragmentation problem under control.

Android runs on multiple hardware platforms and users may not be running the most updated versions of their OS, this is in stark contrast to Apple’s single hardware and software platform that brings unity and set standards. The drop in android’s popularity is surprising considering the popularity and momentum it has acquired among developers in the last one year or so.

clip_image004As per the report the failure of android tablets to really take off in the consumer space has made developers doubt the potential of android, combine this with the fragmentation issue and the future of android tablets looks bleak to say the least. The six level fragmentation issue, that the report says, android is facing is turning out to be a deal breaker with 63% developers reporting it to be the biggest risk to android’s success.

Adding to the issue of fragmentation is how the developers see the android OS and android device hardware. Developers favour some tablets over others leading to further fragmentation. The pricing of tablets that are being heralded as iPad killers is what is disappointing developers, improper pricing has resulted in the mediocre sales of the much hyped Motorola Xoom.

The Others

Even though android did slow down it is far ahead of any other third player in the fight to become the world’s leading mobile platform. Both windows phone 7 and blackberry lost favour with the developers as they lost 7 and 11 points respectively. Symbian, currently the world’s largest mobile OS in terms of number of users, also lost 5 points compared to the Q1 survey. a massive 62% thought that it was too late for any of the competitors to catch up to Google and Apple, considering the momentum they have both gained. Even though Microsoft fell in overall developer interest, it has trumped RIM to become the third most favourable platform for app developers. Despite android’s slight slowdown and it’s strategic partnership with Nokia, Microsoft has its task cut out if they want to get close to android or iOS in market share. Luring developers away from the already profitable iOS and android platforms will prove to be a challenge for Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 platform.

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Mobile Cloud Services

Like in desktop computing, cloud based services are on the rise in the mobile space too. Cloud fragmentation brings a new challenge to developers. Cross-platform development is getting more and more complicated, suggesting the need to bring about some sort of uniformity in this highly booming sector of mobile apps and services. Around 84% developers said that they would be bringing some cloud based functionality to apps this year. Since cross-platform development is a challenge the old debate about native apps vs mobile web was also surveyed in this report. Interestingly a large number of developers think that having a native app as well as mobile web interface is necessary and is reflected in the pie-chart below.

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The reason why developers want to keep a mobile web interface is the fragmentation in cloud based services and leveraging developer skill set. This is apparent in the survey report

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These statistics are based on survey of developer preferences and do not necessarily indicate the beginning of the end for android. A recent report published by leading mobile ad platform InMobi indicates that users are taking to android in a big way and it has beaten the iPhone as the leading mobile OS globally. Developers might be shying away from android due to its apparent fragmentation issues but end users are not.

Will the growth in android adoption by users push the developers to keep churning out apps for android or will developers eventually abandon android for the next big thing? What is your take? Let us know.

Also see: The state of Mobile App World [Infographics]

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