Fast Company

Apple-Loving App Developers Seduced by Android: Report

Apple is still the king of the app world, both on smartphones and tablets. But a new survey shows that Android is catching up--at least among the people who build apps.

app developerWant to know which devices and gadgets are going to grow great guns in the coming years? Ask app developers where they’re placing their bets. And though there are a dizzying array of platforms and devices out there (Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Symbian, phones, tablets, Internet-connected TV), developers seem to be increasingly focusing on just four categories: the iPhone, the iPad, Android phones, and Android tablets.

All other systems are running far behind, according to a new report. And Internet-connected TVs--once touted as the great new home for apps--seem to have all but fallen by the wayside, at least for the time being.

According to the report, by Appcelerator, which surveyed over 2,000 developers, 92% are interested in developing for the iPhone and 87% for the Android. Interest in Windows Phone 7 trailed far behind, at 36%.

About 87% of developers said they wanted to build for the iPad, and 74% for Android tablets. While there’s still a 13 point gap between the two, interest in the iPad only grew three points from a similar survey three months ago, while interest in Android grew four times that much--by 12 points.

Accelerator app developer platform interest chart

Meanwhile interest in building for connected TVs is plummeting. Interest in Google TV was 44% three months ago. Now it’s 33% And interest in building for Apple TV was 40% three months ago. Now it’s 30%.

Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing for Appcelerator, which creates tools for developers, said that almost all developers build first for the iPhone, then ask: “What should I build for next? The Android phone or the iPad?” The rule of thumb the company offers its clients is: If you’re going for market share, build for Android phones; but if your goal is to create an enhanced user experience, go for the iPad.

Both the iPad and Android tablets are enjoying a halo effect that the BlackBerry Playbook and other tablets don’t have, Schwarzhoff told Fast Company. Customers who’ve already used apps on an iPhone or an Android phone are inclined to believe that Apple and Android tablets will deliver just as great an experience. BlackBerry doesn’t enjoy that precedent, which might explain why developers are still wary of the Playbook. Interest in the device doubled since the last time the survey was taken, but it still lags at 28%.

As for connected TVs, Schwarzhoff said developers are simply triaging. “There are only so many hours in a day,” he said. “You don’t want to bet on a completely new form factor. The iPad and Android tablets are known quantities.”

“Tablets are the big form factor for 2011,” Schwarzhoff added. “It’s just going to take time for connected TVs to mature.”

E.B. Boyd is FastCompany.com's Silicon Valley reporter. Follow me on Twitter, or email me.

[Original image for top illustration: Flickr user Martin Stabenfeldt]

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3 Comments

  • Martin Hill

    These survey results are not representative of iOS developers as a whole as the vast majority use Apple's Xcode to write iOS apps, not the software sold by the company that ran this survey.

    The survey subjects were part of a small minority of developers who use a single 3rd party product - Appcelerator Titanium - a cross-platform development tool which is used in 4,000 iOS apps, which amounts to only 1-2% of the 300,000 apps in the App Store. Appcelerator not that long ago was banned from the iOS App store as were other cross-platform environments so what is surprising is that these particular devs still rate Apple highest.

    By buying this software these developers were already planning on developing cross-platform and thus represent a completely biased sample which cannot be extrapolated to the rest of the iOS dev community.

    Then there is Larva Labs study which found that "Overall (as of June 18th, 2010), there were roughly 2,250 paid games and 13,000 paid non-game apps in the Android Market. The reason for the large number of apps vs. games is mainly due to the proliferation of spam apps, something which is much rarer in the games category. 4 games are in the 50,000-250,000 range, while 9 apps are in the 50,000-250,000 range. No paid app or game has yet exceeded 250,000 sales. Approximately 60 apps were in the 10,000-50,000 sales range, compared to approximately 45 games. It continues from there, with the vast majority of apps and games falling in to the ignominious “less than 50″ bucket.

    Overall we estimate that $6,000,000 has been paid out to developers for games, and $15,000,000 has been paid out on apps. That is a total of $21,000,000, nearly 1/50th the amount paid out to devs on iPhone.

    This really indicates how much of a cottage industry the paid Android Market remains, with insufficient sales numbers to warrant full-time labor for paid content."

    Then there is AppBrain's findings that over 45,000 of the 100,000 apps in the Android Marketplace are spam apps.

    As such, you are completely off-base stating "Apple-Loving App Developers Seduced by Android" when that is patently not the case.

    -Mart

  • Iuri Ribeiro

    Nice comment! Do you have the links for all that data? Also, I would add the fact that interest in developing for Android tablets probably grew that much 'cause those just didn't exist before.

  • gman5541

    The problem with the "seduction"? Most apps on the Android platform is free. Take Rovio, the folks who develop the game "Angry Birds": They got an free, ad-supported version of that game on the Android platform. Contrast that with the iOS platform having mostly pay or the ever growing "Freemium" apps where though the initial app is free, you pay for some assorted add-on. Then there's the matter of Oracle's lawsuit with Google involving their Java Development Environment.