Apple Shines, Google Slows, Microsoft Edges RIM in Battle for Mobile Developers: Report

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

The report shows that interest in Android has recently plateaued, as interest in Android phones fell.

Appcelerator, developers of a mobile cloud platform for developing native mobile, desktop, and tablet applications using Web technologies, and IT analyst firm IDC 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 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 radically 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," the report stated.

Google witnessed a plateau in its earlier momentum gains. Reported interest in Android phones fell two points to 85 percent and Android tablets fell three points to 71 percent after increasing twelve points in Q1. "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.," the report noted. "Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents said that device fragmentation in Android poses the biggest risk to Android, followed by weak initial traction in tablets (30 percent) and multiple Android app stores (28 percent).

While 71 percent of developers are very interested in Android as a tablet OS, only 52 percent are very interested in one of the leading Android tablet devices today, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, according to survey results. Further down the list, only 44 percent are very interested in the Motorola Xoom and 31 percent in the upcoming HTC Flyer. Smaller players (Acer, Archos, etc.) register minimal interest, the report found.

"Android remains an exceptionally strong OS but the cumulative effect of unresolved issues with the Android ecosystem are taking a toll on developers," notes report series co-author Scott Ellison, vice president of mobile and connected consumer platforms. "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."

Also featured in this report is an analysis of the six layers of fragmentation (including Android) that are increasingly frustrating developers, a take on mobile apps vs. mobile Web, and a look at how the ubiquity of the mobile cloud is addressing fragmentation and defining a new trend toward always-on computing.