The newest Appcelerator and IDC mobile survey, of 2,363 Appcelerator Titanium developers, reveals that developer momentum is shifting even further towards Apple due to a languishing interest in Android tablets, plus OS fragmentation and an overwhelming number of app stores. This marks the first time that Android has experienced a withdrawal in interest.
Among developers, the number interested in developing for Android phones has dropped from 87% to 85%, below the 91% (iPhone) and 86% (iPad) interested in developing for iOS. Developer interest in Android tablets has fallen to just 71%. Tablets like the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab have been received with an indifference that is markedly different than the excitement and interest in the iPad 2, where scores of people stood in line and fought to get their hands on one. Additionally, sales of these devices have been unimpressive.
These drops are consistent with an overall frustration towards the Android platform, which may lead to an even greater drop in developer enthusiasm in the future. 63% of survey respondents report that the biggest risk to Android is device fragmentation, while 30% say that a lack of interest in Android tablets is a factor, and 28% note that multiple app stores are a problem.
Fragmentation among mobile devices has occurred quickly, and, according to the Appcelerator/IDC report, is now six layers deep between OSes, programming skillsets, mobile devices, form factors (phone and tablet), multi-app portfolios, and Android permutations. This, added to Android’s own fragmentation across devices and platforms, explains developers increasing dissatisfaction.
However, 71% of developers are actually very interested in Android as a tablet OS, but only 52% are very interested in a leading Android tablet device – the Samsung Galaxy Tab. 44% are very interested in the Motorola Xoom, and 31% in the upcoming HTC Flyer. There was minimal interest in smaller players. The Android OS remains appealing to developers, but there’s a clear disappointment with currently available devices.
After a strategic announcement of a partnership with Nokia, Microsoft has taken the distant third spot in developer interest, overtaking RIM. 29% of developers are very interested in the Windows 7 phone, while 27% are very interested in BlackBerry phones. Microsoft has pulled ahead, but interest levels have dropped sharply in both platforms since last quarter.
With interest in Android, Windows 7, and BlackBerry down, there’s a slight chance that a new entrant into the mobile world could make some significant headway, but that seems unlikely with 62% of respondents saying it’s impossible to catch up with market leaders Apple and Google. Additionally, respondents reported that they simply would not have time, between iOS and Android, to take on a new platform.
The survey also notes that mobile and cloud computing are emerging as a very powerful force in the technology industry. 84% of developers surveyed report that they are using at least one cloud-enabled or cloud-based service in their current applications. Many use multiple cloud services, or plan to. Cloud based services may solve some of the current problems with device fragmentation, but ultimately, without a viable Android-based iPad competitor, developers will continue to re-focus efforts on developing for iOS, slowing development for Android and putting it even further behind.