If the essence of a couple of recent reports are true, Android is a very popular platform for mobile developers -- and the most popular in 2010. Other reports indicate that sales of Android-powered smartphones are going through the roof. Taking the findings of the reports as a whole, it's hard not to believe that Android might have the technical and marketing goods to dominate the mobile space.
One report, Mobile Developer Economics 2010 and Beyond, from VisionMobile states that "Android stands out as the top platform according to developer experience, with close to 60 percent of developers having recently developed on Android."
VisionMobile's research is based on a set of benchmarks and a survey of more than 400 developers globally, segmented into the eight major mobile platforms: iOS (iPhone), Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, Java ME, Windows Phone, Flash Lite, and mobile web.
In terms of developer mindshare, the research firm finds that Symbian and Java ME, which dominated the developer mindshare pool until 2008, have been superseded by the Android and iPhone platforms.
Similar conclusions about developer mindshare are made in a mobile developer survey Appcelerator did in June. That survey reveals that iOS and Android development is attracting the attention of a majority of mobile developers by a wide margin. Simultaneously, interest in Windows Mobile and BlackBerry platforms is waning, despite both platforms having a strong share among business users.
Choosing a mobile platform
Large market penetration was chosen by 75 percent of respondents in the VisionMobile survey. Revenue potential was the second most important reason, chosen by more than half of respondents. In fact, market penetration and revenue potential were more important than any single technical reason for selecting a platform.
For most developers, the bottom-line reason to prefer one platform to another is money. Apple and Android consistently show sizable growth via a variety of metrics, including unit sales and online use.
In addition, both platforms have app stores that offer quicker time to market and quicker time to payment. VisionMobile reports that app stores (i.e., Apple, Android) generally make apps available in about 22 days as opposed to 68 days for mobile operators, and offer the first payment in about a month versus two or more months compared to mobile operators.
And just as important, both platforms have growing user bases that frequently use their respective app stores and spend money on apps.
Appcelerator's report reveals 78 percent of developers favor iOS in the short term, but 54 percent lean towards Android for long-term development prospects as it has the most capabilities and is more open.
Phenomenal Rise in Android Phone Shipments
Shipments of smartphones running Android jumped 886 percent during the second quarter, while the worldwide market grew 64 percent annually, helped by Apple, HTC and RIM, research firm Canalys reported recently.
"In the United States, for example, we have seen the largest carrier, Verizon Wireless, heavily promoting high-profile Android devices, such as the Droid by Motorola and the Droid Incredible by HTC," Chris Jones, vice president and principal analyst at Canalys, said in a statement. "These products have been well received by the market, with consumers eager to download and engage with mobile applications and services, such as Internet browsing, social networking, games and navigation."
Canalys reported that Android, with 34-percent market share, is the leader for the second quarter in the U.S., beating out stalwarts RIM with 32 percent and Apple with 21.7 percent.
"In the U.S., the smartphone market grew 41 percent year-on-year," said Jones. "Android devices collectively represented a 34 percent share of the US market in the quarter, and with growth of 851 percent (in the U.S.), Android became the largest smart phone platform in the country."
The Nielsen Company recently found that the Android OS outsold the iPhone OS, iOS, for the first time last quarter among new smartphone users in the U.S.
Android had 27 percent of the U.S. market in the second quarter, compared with 23 percent for the Apple iPhone OS, with RIM still ahead with 33 percent, Nielsen claims on its Web site.