September 30, 2010, 4:10 PM

App developers pick Android over Apple, survey says

The outlook for the Google-owned Android operating system seems brighter than for Apple’s iOS.

Allison Enright


Lead Photo

Nearly three-quarters—72%—of  application developers feel that the Android operating system is best positioned to power web-enabled mobile devices in the future. Just 25% of developers said the same for Apple’s iOS operating system, according to a survey of 2,400 app developers conducted in September by Appcelerator Inc., an app developer, and research firm International Data Corp.

Developers also like Android’s prospects over the long haul:  59% of developers favor Android’s long-term outlook versus 35% favoring Apple’s iOS. The findings from the September survey widen the margin favoring Google’s Android from June survey results that had Android favored by 54% and Apple by 40%. 

The majority (57%) of app developers surveyed say they think the Android operating system has more capabilities than the Apple iOS (36%). They also feel that the Android operating system is the more open platform for development (85%), than Apple’s iOS (6%). App developers also express more interest in developing products for the forthcoming Google TV (44%) than Apple TV (40%), which is already available.

The report indicates that this greater interest in Google TV puts Google and its Android operating system at an advantage. “This survey indicates Google’s strategic focus on original equipment manufacturer relationships and an open operating system that can be embedded in any device will help significantly as it moves into adjacent mass market device categories,” the report says.

All is not bleak for Apple’s iOS, however. On all points measuring market potential and revenue opportunity, Apple is the clear winner. It also dominates in hardware, with 65% of app developers saying Apple iOS has the best devices and 74% saying that the hardware is least fragmented. Apple’s iOS system is used on the iPhone and iPad, while the Android operating system is used on a variety of web-enabled smartphones and other devices from multiple manufacturers.

App developers also say they are most interested in developing apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, although interest in Android-based products is not far behind. 91% of app developers say they are very interested in developing for iPhone, 84% for iPad, 82% for Android phones and 82% for Android tablets. There is a steep drop in app development interest for BlackBerry phones (34%) and Windows phones (28%).  At the bottom of the pack for app development interest is Amazon’s Kindle. Just 7% of app developers say they are very interested in developing apps for the Amazon e-book reader.

Comments | 4 Responses

  • Of course they prefer the Droid, they're developers. This is a ridiculous survey. Clearly, the consumers rule and the advantage goes to Apple. This survey only reflects the classic "if we build it, they will come" hubris of developers.

  • I had the same initial reaction as hswanson. But what developers think matters because they're the ones who decide where to put their imagination and resources. I suspect they think they can make more money in the more open Android world than they can in the iPhone arena that Apple so tightly controls. I once attended a Microsoft conference aimed at developers where Microsoft treated the developers like kings and queens. Microsoft knew (and knows) more applications for Windows were critical to maintaining its dominant position. Apple knows that, too, and it will be interesting to see how this very innovative company balances the desire to nurture its developers with a strategy of controlling what consumers do with their Apple devices. Don Davis, editor, Internet Retailer

  • Can you tell I'm more of an Apple fan, Don? : ) I did not mean to disparage all developers - I married a geek after all. But Apple competitors (and their developers) continue touting iPhone and (more recently) iPad "killers" yet Apple's market share continues to grow. Ultimately, the competition is good for everyone, especially consumers.

  • Let me say first that I am a HUGE Apple fan have installed multiple Mac computers in the company, converted our cell phone to iPhones, deplyed Apple TV to our conference rooms, and have begun a deployment plan of iPads. That said I agree with most of the data in this survey. While my staff and I would "rather" develop for Apple devices, our customers are more interested in development for iDevices and we are significantly more likely to purchase and use Apple hardware, the development tools (XCode) is rather behind the times, and from a developer perspective I would say agree it's lacking. I'd love to see Apple come out with a robust new development suite. I can't wait for the day that I can more more of my business application to OS X rather then Bill's solution.

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