iOS remains the first priority platform for mobile developers to support, still several steps ahead of smartphone market leader Android. This is according to a new report from research company Forrester, drawing on data from its Forrsights Developer Survey, Q1 2013, which polled more than 1,600 software developers in North America and Europe on a spectrum of topics.
Forrester found that more than a third (35%) of respondents target iPhones as their first priority device vs less than a third (27%) who target Android phones first. Compared to Flurry data from last year Android certainly looks to be closing in on Apple’s lead — as you’d expect, being as Android commands a far greater chunk of the global smartphone market (now approaching an 80% share, according to IDC‘s latest figure).
For the time being, iOS continues to punch above its weight by being the platform developers tend to choose to launch apps on first. Examples of some well known apps developed for iOS first include Vine and Instagram (now both also available on Android). Better app monetization on iOS is typically cited as the reason developers choose to go Apple first (although Forrester’s report does not delve into developers’ rational). Developing on Android also typically requires more resources owing to high levels of ecosystem diversity on both the OS and devices side resulting in a greater number of OS versions and screen sizes to support.
Despite iOS getting this first app mover advantage, more developers target Android phones overall than target iPhones (84% rank Android phones as a priority vs 77% for iPhones). This is to be expected, with Android being on so many smartphones at multiple price-points vs Apple’s limited iPhone portfolio. However the iPad does help to expand Apple’s developer mojo, with 27% of respondents ranking the iPad as their second priority device vs around a fifth putting the same level of importance on Android tablets. By contrast Windows RT tablets are being largely ignored by developers, according to Forrester’s data.
The survey also makes miserable reading for BlackBerry, whose relaunched BlackBerry 10 platform languishes behind its last-gen BlackBerry 7 OS as a developer priority, with a sub-10% priority overall — albeit the company formerly known as RIM only officially launched BB10 at the end of January. Both BlackBerry platforms lag far behind Microsoft’s Windows Phone, which comes in fifth place overall, with a just under 50% priority score.
Despite these, at times, wildly differing platform priorities, Forrester’s data indicates that developers are effectively splitting their time between native app development and HTML5. Mobile app developers said they spend on average 41% of their time developing native apps vs 46% of their time either building mobile web apps (24%) or hybrid apps with web view components (22%). Cross-platform apps have a long way to go to bridge all the platform development gaps, however.
The mobile platform prioritisation portion of Forrester’s survey concerns a subset of the polled developers, being as less than a third (30%) of the survey respondents said they have worked on mobile apps or websites in the past two years. For all the attention lavished on mobile apps (and devices), web apps and websites (63%) and SQL-connected apps (62%) were the most commonly used development technologies identified by the poll.
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