Senior analyst William Powers of Baird Research surveyed 250 working developers about their choice of platform and experiences in mobile development. The results show that more developers (71%) were developing for Android than iOS (62%). Other platforms such as webOS and Windows Phone 7 failed to garner more than 27% of those surveyed. Remember that many developers write apps for more than one mobile platform so these percentages will be higher than 100%.
Though Android is more popular than iOS, developers face multiple challenges when trying to release and make money from the Google’s application marketplace. According to the report, Android developers encounter several stumbling blocks including:
- Device fragmentation: 56% of developers claimed the variety of Android versions in the wild make it difficult when developing an application.
- Store fragmentation: Developers preferred the unified, single store experience of iOS which has one and only one app store. Android has the Google Market and now competitors like the Amazon Appstore to consider when releasing an application.
- Ease of development: iOS is easier than Android, but both platforms are easier than RIM’s BlackBerry OS or Nokia’s Symbian. No mention was made of Windows Phone 7 which is considered to be the easiest mobile platform due to the development tools provided by Microsoft.
- App visibility: iOS leads with its popular Apple App store, while BlackBerry scores second. Though growing, Google’s mobile OS still trails in this department. The report did not mention whether this survey was conducted before or after Google introduced its web-based Android Market. Though it is not a cure-all, it does make it easier for Android owners to search and browse for applications.
- Payment: iOS is first for payments, followed by BlackBerry. Presumably these numbers are boosted by the number of higher-priced applications in RIM’s BlackBerry World app store.
The take-home message is that developers looking to score big in the mobile arena may have to pick a platform based on their target audience or be forced to straddle multiple platforms until one OS comes out as the clear winner. Any mobile developers care to chime in on this survey and share your thoughts about the ever-changing world of mobile development.
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