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iPad, Android Tablets Rule, Says Developer Survey

According to a new survey of the mobile landscape by Appcelerator, developers of mobile apps favor Apple's iPad for the time being, but are have their eyes on Android and the opportunity it provides for cross-platform development in the long term.

The Appcelerator Mobile Developer Survey survey, Appcelerator looked in depth at six mobile operating systems:

  • Apple (iOS)
  • Google (Android)
  • Palm/HP (webOS)
  • Microsoft (Phone 7)
  • Nokia (Symbian/Meego)
  • RIM (BlackBerry)

According to the 2,733 developers who responded, developers favor Apple against other platforms for its app store, market for consumer and business apps, devices, and near-term outlook. However, Android comes out tops against others for its OS capabilities, platform openness, and long-term outlook. When asked in more detail, 69% of respondents felt that Android’s potential to "show tremendous adaptability, from tablets to e-readers to set-top boxes" is its greatest strength as a platform. The potential for tablets and other devices from HP based on webOS is also Palm's greatest perceived strength.

A second emerging trend is the increasing problem with OS and device fragmentation. When developers were presented with eight lifecycle stages for development, "porting apps to multiple platforms" stood out as the number one developer pain point. In fact, the number of interested developers dropped up to 60% when asked about their level of interest in each platform's SDK vs. using a cross-platform solution like Appcelerator Titanium. Moreover, the fragmentation "nightmare" was the biggest stated issue for developing for the Android platform (61%), even above the threat that iOS poses Google's operating system.

Contrary to popular belief, large organizations (more than 1,000 employees) are even more interested than individual developers in mobile: 60% of developers in organizations with more than 1,000 employees said they were "very interested" in BlackBerry compared to 33% overall. For Android, 90% of developers in these companies said they were "very interested" in Google’s OS compared to 81% overall. Interest in Apple's iOS increases to 94% from 90% overall for large organizations.

Cross-platform concerns were also much higher in large organizations. Developers in large organizations were 65% more likely than individual developers to cite this as their top development issue. Appcelerator’s own inbound requests are increasingly coming from large companies and brands with a strong mandate to go mobile this year.

Developers were also asked to stack rank new iOS features that they are most looking forward to. In priority order, these features are:

  • Multitasking (73% of respondents are looking forward to this feature)
  • Faster processor (58%)
  • iAD (33%)
  • Retina display (31%)
  • Text messaging within apps (31%)
  • Gyroscope (30%)
  • Enhanced camera (29%)
  • HD video (26%)
  • FaceTime (24%)
  • Gamekit (24%)
  • 802.11n wi-fi (21%)

"Developers are rearranging their priorities to unlock the new potential that tablet computing holds," says Appcelerator's Jeff Haynie. "They are experimenting with tablets as point of sale terminals, tablets as TV or other hardware control devices, and tablets as university training tools. We’re seeing lots of interest within categories that have yet to be revolutionized by web-connected devices and in categories where embedded proprietary software used to rule."

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