Android, not iOS, will win over developers

Android will replace iOS as the most important platform to developers within the next 12 months, British analyst firm Ovum says. It also notes an increased interest in Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS, and sees a move towards web standards in development over proprietary technologies.

Timing is surprising. Tomorrow, Apple will announce fourth calendar quarter earnings, where analysts expect record iOS device sales. Despite these platform gains, developer attention shifts to Android.


"A smartphone platform's success is dictated not only by the pull of consumers and the push of handset vendors and mobile operators but also by a healthy economy of applications delivered by third-party developers", devices and platforms practice leader Adam Leach says of his findings. Leach's research should come as no surprise given Android's strength in the marketplace.

Save for the holidays, Android smartphones have been outselling the iPhone by as much as a two-to-one margin for much of the past year. It was only a matter of time before developers took notice of this fast growing market and develop for it.

"It is important for all players in the smartphone ecosystem to understand the choices developers are making today and the downstream impact of those choices," Leach says.

Indeed, the survey shows a marked move away from once important platforms such as Symbian and WebOS. Developers' confidence in BlackBerry OS is surprising, however, given the platform's struggle in the market, and the internal turmoil plaguing the company. Windows Phone is not as surprising, given Nokia's big gamble on the platform and the building interest in its partner's devices.

"The growing momentum behind Windows Phone indicates that Microsoft has managed to convince developers that its platform is worthy of investment, its challenge now is to persuade consumers", Leach argues.

Developers also are showing a desire to develop their applications using web-based standards. This allows for an even cross-platform experience without the need for recoding. HTML5 is favored, while older more platform-specific technologies like Java, Flash, and WAP fall by the wayside.

Even with this move towards standards in development, the developer still leans on vendor-specific distribution -- Google's Android Market or Apple's App Store -- in order to distribute their work. This is likely a function of the developer's desire to reach the largest possible audience, Ovum says.

Photo Credit: Joe Wilcox

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