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Android is set to become the number one choice for mobile application developers in the next 12 months as the Google platform pushes ahead of arch rival Apple, according to the latest research from Ovum.

The analyst house interviewed over a hundred developers globally, asking them which platform they preferred and then compared the answers to last year’s Trends in Mobile Application Development survey.

While iOS is still rated as most important by the majority, as it was last year, young upstart Android is fast finding favour in the developer community. Ovum said Google’s OS had taken a “significant leap” in the past 12 months, jumping from fifth most important platform in last year’s survey up to second in 2012.

In reality, most developers will look to cover all bases by supporting as many major platforms as they can, with Android’s growing popularity likely to be linked to its increasing market share, according to Ovum analyst Tony Cripps.

“It’s pretty unusual to find an application developer who favours just one platform only. It’s about how many resources and what level of importance they place on that platform going forward,” Cripps told The Register.

“There is starting to be overall a larger installed base of devices on Android than iOS in the coming years. Typically developers prioritise the platforms that give them the largest market. The nature of the battle is not like that on PCs or web apps, there are differences in the target demographics.”

BlackBerry OS came third in the popularity stakes, and much will depend on how it transitions towards the forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system, according to Cripps.

Anecdotally, Windows Phone is also doing pretty well, said the analyst, although it came a distinct fourth according to Ovum.

Going forward, the big Android-Apple battle could well depend on which platform provider offers the most unified experience across different devices, he concluded. ®

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