A new global survey of mobile-app developers underscores a major shift in their outlook, with interest in building apps for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 (32 percent) now second only to Google's Android OS (35 percent). By contrast, Apple's iOS ranked third at 27 percent, according to Vision Mobile's latest survey of 850 developers worldwide.
More developers are planning to invest in Phone 7 because Microsoft is offering best-in-class XNA and Silverlight developer tools and encouraging an influx of PC and Xbox developers. However, Microsoft has "a challenging year ahead" as it begins leveraging Nokia's mobile brand to compete more robustly with Apple and Google, the report's authors noted.
Microsoft's "very strong developer tooling is a key enabler" for developers wishing to build and test their new apps long before Nokia's first Phone 7 handsets hit the market, noted Al Hilwa, director of applications development software at IDC. "We have seen Windows Phone pull ahead of competitors in developer appeal, helped by the Nokia deal," Hilwa said.
'The King of Developer Mindshare'
Still, Android is a formidable global competitor because it is the only mobile platform adopted by developers across Europe, North America, and Asia, according to Vision Mobile's new report. By contrast, developer interest in Apple's iOS is lagging in Asia, due to the relatively low penetration of Apple devices in the region.
Across mobile platforms, Android is not "just the king of developer mindshare -- it's also the easiest platform for developers to experiment with," the report's authors observed. It places fewer restrictions than Apple on "deep" APIs with access to multimedia codecs, SMS texting, telephony and streaming functions, and developers appreciate the Android Market's "instant publishing" policy, which lets them bring apps to market quickly.
By contrast, Apple forces developers to go through an extended approval process before their creations can enter Apple's App Store. Still, one should never underestimate Apple's ability to potentially alter the mobile-device playing field.
iCloud Adds an Advantage
Piper Jaffray believes the free iCloud service unveiled by Apple this week could end up giving the device maker yet another marketplace advantage. "The bottom line is that Apple is increasing the likelihood that consumers buy multiple Apple devices," noted analysts Gene Munster and Andrew Murphy on Tuesday. Moreover, iCloud's halo effect would include Apple's Macs "because the computer is tied into iCloud as well as devices, and Macs are more tightly integrated than PCs," Murphy added in an e-mail Wednesday.
The new iCloud service will enable all of Apple's computing devices "to automatically share contacts, calendars, messages, photos, apps and music purchased on iTunes," Munster and Murphy wrote in a note released Monday. Moreover, Apple announced that it currently has "225 million iTunes accounts with credit cards -- up from 220 million in March of 2011, [which] implies about 40 percent growth in iTunes accounts in 2011."
Apple's recent iPad sales are also exceeding expectations. Piper Jaffray now expects Apple to have ship eight million units in the current June-ending quarter -- up from a prior estimate of seven million. All these developments point to an expansion of the number of iOS devices on which developers can launch their apps and through which companies can promote their brands.
The Apple App Store is also where developers receive the greatest monetary return on app creation. "Our research revealed large discrepancies across platforms in terms of the revenues applications are bringing to developers -- iOS topped the chart, making 3.3x more money per app than Symbian developers, followed by Java ME (2.7x) and BlackBerry (2.4x)," Vision Mobile's authors wrote.
Posted: 2011-06-13 @ 11:30am PT
Microsoft developer tools are light years ahead of other platforms. You can write WP7 apps (including those for Mango) much faster than for iOS or Android. This means that far fewer resources are required to develop for Windows Phone 7 than for the other platforms.
Posted: 2011-06-12 @ 6:59pm PT
Have been looking at Objective C recently and it's even worse than it looked initially when I was reading code snippets on Apple forums. Incredibely outdated, more of a C preprocessor hack than an OOP language
Posted: 2011-06-12 @ 12:04pm PT
@honkj: Thats what they said about Android a couple years back. And Android had a horrific entrance into the market with fragmentation to the point where Android simply told people that not all android phones would be ABLE to update.
Posted: 2011-06-11 @ 10:19am PT
Windows phone 7 is an excellent OS. With the mango update will become the best OS. Having the best tools for developers means it's only a matter of time. Look where Android was 1.5 years ago at 4%. Things change.
Posted: 2011-06-08 @ 8:54pm PT
and if you squeeze real hard you can make Rainbows but hey dreaming is cool... have fun with that, oh and the prediction that there would be more WP7 phones than Android or iOS in 4 years... just keep looking for those rainbows... it is inspiring...
Posted: 2011-06-08 @ 4:10pm PT
It is not surprising that Windows Phone 7 developer tools are gaining attention. The tools Microsoft provides, particularly the Blend suite, for WP7 make the ADT for Eclipse (Android development plugin) look pathetic. In addition, Microsoft provides these tools free of charge, at least for students I know.