Android gaining on iPhone among developers
Survey finds Google OS is most highly rated for long term outlook in US
The iPhone 4 may be on sale now, but the Android community is doing a good job of keeping quite a lot of the spotlight on itself - mainly thanks to Verizon Wireless' aggressive promotion of its flagship phones, Droid Incredible from HTC and the new Droid X from Motorola. Such efforts are beginning to show results in terms of Android's market share and developer commitments, and could even create some enterprise momentum soon, say analysts.
According to a new survey from development tools firm Appcelerator, Android is gaining ground on Apple among US programmers. Its Q2 mobile developer survey questioned 2,733 respondents, and found that 90% were 'very interested' in creating apps for the the iPhone, and 81% for Android.
The other operating systems came well behind, partly because they are currently ageing and the market is waiting for their upcoming new versions. About one-third were 'very interested' in BlackBerry, 27% in Windows, 15% in Symbian and 13% in Palm webOS. There was even some showing for MeeGo, which has only just been released to selected developers but gained a score of 11% 'very interested' respondents, while 6% voted for the Amazon Kindle, which has a content publishing platform but is not a full apps development system.
The reasons why developers rated iPhone and Android highly were quite different. Apple scored well ahead of its rival for the size, quality and commercial capability of its app store, and 78% thought it had the best short term prospects, compared to 16% for Android. Android beat iPhone on its OS capabilities though, with 55% saying it was the leader in this respect, compared to 39% for Apple. More predictably, Android scored on openness, with 86% rating it the most open platform, compared to 8% who, oddly, chose iPhone.
Perhaps most worryingly for Apple, 54% said Android had the best long term outlook as an OS, compared with 40% who put Apple at the top of that league.
Other positives for Apple were the consumer appeal of the phone, while the main negative was the vendor's iron control. For Android, the positives revolved around flexibility, multiple device factors and openness, but there were complaints about fragmentation and the time and money that is required to test apps across all Android gadgets.
As for tablets, 84% said they were very interested in developing for the iPad, while 62% said the same about a putative Android tablet.
There is more controversy about whether Android is ready for the enterprise. Verizon Wireless and Adobe both said it would be suitable for corporate use once upgraded to Android 2.2 or Froyo, and because it had business friendly features like a personal hotspot. But analyst Jack Gold of J Gold Associates said in a research note that Android was "not ready for the enterprise", even with Froyo. He said that upgrade would improve security but said Android 2.2 "still suffers a lack of real enterprise class policy enforcement ... and poses a significantly greater risk to enterprises than other major mobile OSs."
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Paint me, unsurprised.
"90% were 'very interested' in creating apps for the the iPhone, and 81% for Android"
Alas, apple has the market size advantage today for smartphones, which turns out in and of itself is very attractive for developers and users.
"Android beat iPhone on its OS capabilities though, with 55% saying it was the leader in this respect, compared to 39% for Apple. More predictably, Android scored on openness, with 86% rating it the most open platform, compared to 8% who, oddly, chose iPhone."
Well nobody actually likes a closed garden, except for a few contrarians. It's obvious that the iphone is not an open platform for developers nor users, every app management function must be approved by apple in DRM style. That 8% of developers lied about the iphone as an open device shows either ignorance (unlikely), or are willing to say just about anything to promote their brand.
Prediction: Ultimately, since the closed garden is a worse deal, it will loose market share to open rivals. The big question is whether apple will open up to stop erosion, or remain in iron fist mode for controlling it's customer base, which is still sizable either way.
Reason is, Android is compelling & versatile
As a developer (software designer) and having had much time to play with or own iPhone and Android devices (not to mention the excellent Samsung Wave Bada handset), I find the iPhone 4 to be what WOW geeks would refer to as 'Meh'. Yes, it's sexy, but the screen is too small and the lack of certain features available on Android and other devices limit it's usefulness. Pickup a Dell Streak, play around with it (including surfing the web, viewing photos & video and using maps) and then go back to an iPhone 4. I am excited by the possibilities provided by Android, even if any apps we develop are limited to specific handsets, that is no different than being limited to a specific platform. Users will purchase the handset or platform that delivers the solution(s) they desire. And solutions is what this is all about. (To be frank, the masses buying iPhone 4 at launch are in it to be first with the blingiest phone, not because it offers much new. It is a very advanced fashion statement.)
Market apps only
Bear in mind the kill switch relates to the Android Market terms and conditions. If you deploy a client for some kind of back end enterprise system you wouldn't usually be deploying it through the market - the very reason why the iPhone is not suitable for such apps of course.
Basically they are saying if you break the Market terms and conditions (i.e. saying your app does one thing when it does another in the one instance it has been used), your app can be removed from devices. You might not like this as developers wanting to break the terms and conditions, but I can't really imagine you'll get much sympathy. If you really want to write dodgy software, you'll just have to release it on your own.