App Developers Tilt Toward iOS

A survey of more than 3,600 Appcelerator Titanium developers has revealed that they would rather develop mobile apps for iOS than for Android.

iOS led Android by 16 percent in the Appcelerator/IDC Q2 2012 Mobile Developer Report. Fifty-three percent of the respondents believed that iOS was winning in enterprise app development, whereas only 37 percent believed Android was. The survey’s numbers for consumer app developers indicated a similar preference for iOS.

The preference for iOS actually begins with clients and consumers, not with the developers themselves, said Nathanial Trienens, director of mobile for Fuzz Productions.

“We develop whatever we’re asked to develop,” Trienens told TechNewsWorld. “Our clients are making decisions about what apps they want, and our clients are more inclined to choose iOS apps over Android, [since there are] higher download and adoption rates for iOS apps.”

In short, developers adapt to enterprise and consumer demand, rather than trying to predict it, said Trienens.

The Problem of Fragmentation

This survey’s results represents a change from the third quarter 2011 report, which showed the two platforms were about equal in developer preference.

The simplicity of iOS seems to be the primary driving force behind app developers’ preference for this system. Some of the reasons for Android’s second-place status, according to respondents, include its multiple operating systems, multiple device classes, and multiple languages.

“The fragmentation of the Android platform is challenging for developers,” explained Trienens. “With Android, you have to accommodate a wide array of devices. It’s when you try to be backward-compatible to all these Android products that you run into problems.”

Change in the Air

However, the erosion of interest in Android has slowed, the survey suggests, meaning that there might be a turnaround in Android development in the future.

“The growth of our Android division is greater than our iOS,” said Trienens.

Android devices tend to be more affordable than iOS devices, the survey notes, pointing to the recent growth in Android device shipments.

Another contributing factor to a possible turnaround is the fact that fragmentation is no longer limited to Android.

“The more products Apple puts out, the more we have to accommodate different devices,” said Trienens. “Apple is becoming a bit more fragmented as well, though it is a bit more of a consolidated set of devices with iOS.”

Android is gradually gaining back some of its market share, according to Josh Greenman, president and CEO of Mercury Development.

“Fragmentation in the Android platform is not as much of a concern as it used to be,” Greenman told TechNewsworld.

Android use is on the rise, and Android market share is “creeping up,” he said.

Other factors that might shift the balance and change the app landscape in the future include Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility and the potential of Windows-based mobile devices.

One thing that’s certain, according to Greenman, is that the app market will continue to expand, regardless of platform.

“The number of devices increases every day,” he said. “There’s still a tremendous opportunity for growth in the smartphone market, and that will continue to increase. Every smartphone sold is another opportunity to sell an app.”

1 Comment

  • I AM at Titanium dev, and I gotta say this: It’s not surprising that a majority of Ti-Devs prefers to develop for iOS.

    Appcelerators definition of ‘multi-platform’ seems to be: We’ll make it work on iOS, and then we’ll do a half-assed implementation on Android, just so that we can claim we support that too.

    Android bugs just live on and on and on. When I started in sept. last year with Ti, they were at 1.7.0. I started out on a Mac doing iOS, and it was very nice. Soon however an Android-only project came along, and that’s when the hurting started. Image-views that can’t show images. Small mistakes in assigning refs to Ti objects leads to crashes that have no errormsgs etc …

    In regards to Android, their doc-site should be called a ‘spec-site’ – because specs are about how things ought to work, while docs are about how things DO work.

    Today things are better, but still: I recently made a small app for my self. It plays various sounds. The sound object exposed by Ti of course does not work properly. You cannot change the sound-url of the object once it’s created (the docs says you can of course) – in Android the method to do it (setUrl) is even lacking, with no mention of this in the docs – you have to do it by assignment. Still it does not work, and at one point you’ll lose playback ability, because you have to keep creating new soundobjects and that drains resources. After a while, when Android itself kills the objects, playback returns.

    Also – the workflow with Ti is … eh … interesting. Especially so with Android. Right now I have to compile my projects a couple of times before they will run. I do not change any code, coz’ it’s in the build-system things are fubar. So I just compile two or three times, and sooner or later I can start working. Often I have to restart the entire Ti Studio, because it lost something, and will only compile and install the app, but not run it properly.

    In short: If you make a terrible Android experience, and a tolerable iOS experience – what kind of developers will you send away screaming and what kind of developers will you retain? How will the results of any survey look?

    I AM afraid that Appcelerator will use this survey to conclude that more resources are to be directed towards iOS and less towards Android – which would be awful and not reflect the current state of Ti.

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