Android looks set to replace Apple’s iOS in terms of importance to developers within the next 12 months. However, despite a clear vie for ultimate supremacy between these two platforms, almost all developers support both.
While iOS and Android form the core of developer support, there also exists growing interest from developers in BlackBerry OS and Microsoft Windows Phone. 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.
The trends in this year’s survey mirror closely changes in the wider smartphone market. Developers have been quick to respond to the exit of once-important smartphone platforms such as Windows Mobile, Symbian and WebOS, and have embraced opportunities that have arisen through emerging platforms.
The research also shows a move away from traditional cross-platform mobile application development approaches (e.g. Java, Flash, WAP). Instead, developers are focusing their efforts on web-based standards (e.g. HTML5), which seem to be the preferred approach to building cross-platform applications.
Yet, despite the increasing use of cross-platform programming approaches, most developers are still using vendor-specific distribution channels (e.g. Android Market) to deploy applications, as this is seen as the best way to reach the largest possible audience for their applications.
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. Therefore, 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.