April 26, 2011, 12:14 PM

Developers cool on the previously hot Android mobile platform

Steadily increasing interest reverses course while Apple remains king.

Lead Photo

Mobile app developers are most interested in the iPhone iOS operating system.

Interest among mobile app developers in Android has recently hit a plateau, a new study of 2,700 mobile app developers shows. The results suggest that concerns around fragmentation—the number of different Android devices and the varying specifications for each device, and the different skills needed to build for multiple platforms—and disappointing Android tablet sales and reviews have caused developers to pull back from their previous steadily increasing zeal for Google Inc.’s free mobile operating system.

Interest in Apple Inc.’s iOS mobile operating system, meanwhile, continues to be very high, with 91% of developers saying they are very interested in iPhone development and 86% very interested in iPad development, according to the Q2 2011 study by research firm International Data Corp. and app development platform provider Appcelerator. The 2,700 developers surveyed use Appcelerator technology, which can be used to build apps for any mobile platform.

Interest in Android phones fell two points between the first and second quarters of 2011 to 85%. The appeal of Android tablets fell three points to 71% after increasing 12 points between Q1 2011 and Q4 2010. These drops are in contrast to the increasing developer interest in Android during the last year and are consistent with an increase in developer frustration with Android, the study says. 63% of respondents say device fragmentation in Android poses the biggest risk to the platform, followed by weak initial traction in Android tablets (30%) and multiple Android app stores (28%).

While 71% of developers are very interested in Android as a tablet platform, only 52% are very interested in the Samsung Galaxy Tab, 44% in the Motorola Xoom and 31% in the upcoming HTC Flyer, all Android tablets, the study reports.

Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 7 and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry platforms fall into the also-ran category. Windows Phone quarter over quarter fell seven points, with only 29% of developers saying they are very interested in the platform, while BlackBerry dropped 11 points to 27%.

Partly as a result of Microsoft’s partnership announcement with Nokia, Windows Phone interest fell four points less than BlackBerry to make Microsoft the new No. 3 in developer interest behind Apple and Google, the survey notes. 62% of respondents say it will be impossible for any mobile platform to catch up to Apple and Android.

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