Android gaining on iPhone among developers

Survey finds Google OS is most highly rated for long term outlook in US


The iPhone 4 may be on sale now, but the Android community is doing a good job of keeping quite a lot of the spotlight on itself - mainly thanks to Verizon Wireless' aggressive promotion of its flagship phones, Droid Incredible from HTC and the new Droid X from Motorola. Such efforts are beginning to show results in terms of Android's market share and developer commitments, and could even create some enterprise momentum soon, say analysts.

According to a new survey from development tools firm Appcelerator, Android is gaining ground on Apple among US programmers. Its Q2 mobile developer survey questioned 2,733 respondents, and found that 90% were 'very interested' in creating apps for the the iPhone, and 81% for Android.

The other operating systems came well behind, partly because they are currently ageing and the market is waiting for their upcoming new versions. About one-third were 'very interested' in BlackBerry, 27% in Windows, 15% in Symbian and 13% in Palm webOS. There was even some showing for MeeGo, which has only just been released to selected developers but gained a score of 11% 'very interested' respondents, while 6% voted for the Amazon Kindle, which has a content publishing platform but is not a full apps development system.

The reasons why developers rated iPhone and Android highly were quite different. Apple scored well ahead of its rival for the size, quality and commercial capability of its app store, and 78% thought it had the best short term prospects, compared to 16% for Android. Android beat iPhone on its OS capabilities though, with 55% saying it was the leader in this respect, compared to 39% for Apple. More predictably, Android scored on openness, with 86% rating it the most open platform, compared to 8% who, oddly, chose iPhone.

Perhaps most worryingly for Apple, 54% said Android had the best long term outlook as an OS, compared with 40% who put Apple at the top of that league.

Other positives for Apple were the consumer appeal of the phone, while the main negative was the vendor's iron control. For Android, the positives revolved around flexibility, multiple device factors and openness, but there were complaints about fragmentation and the time and money that is required to test apps across all Android gadgets.

As for tablets, 84% said they were very interested in developing for the iPad, while 62% said the same about a putative Android tablet.

There is more controversy about whether Android is ready for the enterprise. Verizon Wireless and Adobe both said it would be suitable for corporate use once upgraded to Android 2.2 or Froyo, and because it had business friendly features like a personal hotspot. But analyst Jack Gold of J Gold Associates said in a research note that Android was "not ready for the enterprise", even with Froyo. He said that upgrade would improve security but said Android 2.2 "still suffers a lack of real enterprise class policy enforcement ... and poses a significantly greater risk to enterprises than other major mobile OSs."

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Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.


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