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Apple vs. Android – Appcelerator/IDC developer survey – Quick Analysis

Developers are longing for a more open mobile platform, results from one survey contends.


Appcelerator and IDC recently surveyed 2,363 Appcelerator Titanium developers on mobile platforms “perceptions” and “priorities” (see summary and full report over at Appcelerator). Not surprisingly, for a group that’s seeking to avoid full conversion to Apple by coding in the native framework (instead, they’re using Titanium), these developers were hopeful that Google’s rival mobile platform Android would take off:

One of the most discussed findings of Appcelerator’s June 2010 survey revealed that 54.0% of developers said Android had the best long-term outlook compared to iOS at 40.4%. Fast forward three months beyond a successful iPhone 4 launch and Apple’s recent announcement that it would be easing restrictions on developers and… this gap has widened 10.1 points. Now 58.6% of respondents in our new survey believe Android has a better long-term outlook over iOS (34.9%)


The question around coding for TVs are an interesting indication of interest in the forever sought after “last platform” to avoid the greedy tendrils of developers (aside from, perhaps, the refrigerator and toaster, both Twittering you when you need more milk and when your toast is done):

Developers are also showing enthusiasm for connected TVs, with 44% saying they are ‘very interested’ in developing for Google TV vs. 40% for Apple TV. Explains Scott Ellison, VP Mobile & Wireless, IDC, “Apps are poised to help remake the television viewing experience just as they have remade the mobile experience. Television needs new and more effective ways to create immersive experiences, engage audiences with advertisers, integrate social networks, and drive viewership of original broadcasts” he added, “The television players who most effectively integrate app developers into their connected TV strategies are poised to potentially remake the television experience as we know it.”

What with Netflix providing an actual reason to get your TV on the Internet, and folks like Boxee and Roku having a go at the Sisyphean task, there’s stronger than ever pull to make your TV into a computer. Unlike the days of WebTV, people are taking to it. For example, Netflix said “61 percent of its 15 million subscribers streamed movies in the second quarter.” Oh, and they’re blamed (in part) for bankrupting Blockbuster.

And, once that’s done, the developers come in and it’s a land-grab at that point.

As ever, in a sort of tragic way, the marketing efforts of Sun provide a “too early” roadmap to baseline from. With Java shipping in Blueray players and hopes to spread JavaFX (coverage) to all sorts of “open screens” (as Adobe would call it), Sun put a lot of wood behind this arrow about 2 years ago. Remember that Neil Young JavaOne keynote in 2008?

Avoiding Lord Lockin

Developers I talk with are iOS (iPhone and iPad) obsessed. Fueled by legends of ramen startup teams generating six figures a month, there’s a mini-bubble for mobile app development. The quickest path from compile to cash seems to be Apple, but most developers know deep in their bones it’s a deal with the Devil, or at least one of the barons of developer Hell, Lord Lockin.

Instead, the developer sentiment I get is that Android will be the great savior, an open platform like we were raised on with the web, in the post-Microsoft world of allegiance to a commercial, closed platform. In the same way that Microsoft lost a generation of developers to open source, though, there is a question of open source loosing a generation of developers to Apple and other closed platforms.

Key to winning is showing up, and so far Apple has done that much better than Android. But we’re perpetually on the verge of that friendly robot finally carpet bombing itself into market presence. This holiday spending and gifting gluttony will be interesting, and critical to watch in the Apple vs. Android platform war. Android needs to pull a big win or it’ll look grim for the next 12 months. While there’s buying through-out the year, a huge surge in device purchase will seed much of the landscape (what people have to run apps on, iOS or Android) for the next year – driving developer choice when it comes to selecting a platform. And with stories of bone-head marketing and pricing moves in the tablet space, things are still up in the air for this crucial Christmas buying season.

All of this is shaded by the fact that the survey group were existing Appcelerator users, but it’s valuable sentiment nonetheless. It’d be helpful for folks like Adobe, Microsoft, and other would be platform-for-all-your-screen people to do similar surveys, if only to show what their community is interested in. It’d be great for Apple and Google to share such data, but the leader often have little inclination for such stuff.

Disclosure: Appcelerator has been a client in the past. Adobe and Microsoft are clients, as was Sun when they were chasing this vision with JavaFX.

Categories: Development Tools, Marketing, Programming, The New Thing.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] The recent mobile platform survey Appcelerator did with IDC reflects much of these desires. […]