IDC has been surveying mobile developers for the past two years. In mid-May, it polled more than 3,500 developers in a survey sponsored by platform vendor and SAP partner, Appcelerator, to gauge their feelings about Apple versus Google in the enterprise, their interest in Windows 8/Microsoft Surface, what their pain points are, and more. Here is what they said, with my commentary.
Mobile is a young technology flooded with vendors, so it’s not surprising that five out of the six biggest pain points for developers are related to having too much choice, fragmentation and/or complexity. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Some platforms can hide complexity and enable developers to write apps faster and better as a result.
Virtually all smartphones and tablets today run ARM chips. With the rise of the post-PC era, Intel is in real danger. It needs to woo both device makers as well as developers to its side. To do so, developers want assurances that their apps will run the same on x86 chips as on ARM with minimal time and rewriting required. A little financial sweetener wouldn’t hurt, either.
Third-party Web services can add real value or save time for app developers. Push notifications, integration with social services and user authentication are their top favorites today. Despite the hype around location-based services, the only overt location-based service, Places, ranked 7th out of 12th in interest among developers. That surprised me.
Ahh, now we get to the meaty stuff. According to IDC analyst Scott Ellison, “The big news is that Apple’s iOS took a dramatic lead over Google’s Android in the enterprise app space…For developers, Android appears to be evolving more towards a consumer play, which in turn provides a key competitive opening for Microsoft in the enterprise mobile app space.”
Just nine months ago, enterprise developers viewed iOS and Android as dead tied. But various Android tablets failed to make a dent into the iPad’s lead. And now we see a huge lead for iOS in the enterprise. That’s my explanation, anyway. Windows’ share is surprisingly low – aren’t tons of folks jazzed about Surface and Windows 8? I don’t understand why Web OS is still on here – isn’t it as dead as Symbian at this point?
It’s clear that developer mindshare basically echoes what you read in the tech press: iOS on top, Android phones on top, followed by Android tablets (note: this survey was done in May before the Google Nexus 7 rumors surfaced). I’m surprised HTML5 interest remains so high, considering the dearth of deployments. Developer interest in the BlackBerry platforms is in real danger of slipping into the single digits. The interesting thing is that developers can still make really good money on RIM.
Stepping back, you can see that iPhone and iPad have reigned as the most desirable platform since IDC began doing these quarterly surveys 2.5 years ago. Android phones have tied but never surpassed either iOS platform. Interest in BlackBerry has fallen steadily for most of the past 2 years.
Did Microsoft hire away Sir Johnny Ive away from Apple without my realization? Else, there’s some serious and seriously good UI work going on up in Redmond. So agree nearly half of developers. Still, a third of developers said it was difficult to make their app Metrosexual. That’s not too bad, when you consider that with any major change, you’re always going to create a “Who moved my cheese?” reaction in a certain percentage of folks. That’s just reality, especially for developers, who are used to being wooed and coddled by platform vendors.