Apple and Google race for mobile dominance

It's looking more and more like a two-horse race for mobile device dominance. Which bandwagon will developers jump on, Apple or Google?

Many media and technology pundits are convinced that the impending release of the Apple iPad will herald a change in the way we consume computing resources.

And while the iPad may usher in a new way to interact with computing devices, it's far from a perfect device. Perhaps it's the promise of what a device of this type can offer that's the message, rather than the actuality of what the initial iPad will deliver.

In fact, according to a new survey by development tools maker Appcelerator, developer interest actually waned during the past three months, primarily due to the lack of a few features originally thought to be included in the iPad, such as a camera and support for multitasking.

Appcelerator

This doesn't mean that consumers won't buy the new devices, but it does show developer trepidation in regards to what types of apps can monetize users. If nothing else, the iPhone has the always-on network connectivity that introduces a wealth of possibilities beyond just web browsing.

And while developer interest may have dipped a bit, there is little question that the iPhone and App Store have introduced a whole new way of distributing applications.

Yet, somehow Android has not only crept up near iPhone adoption levels (albeit on multiple phones) but has also captured the interest of developers. A number of developers I spoke with told me anecdotally that they much prefer the Android development environment and the fact that they don't have to deal with the App Store approval and sales processes, which can be challenging, if not downright difficult.

According to the report, in January 2010, 86 percent of developers were very interested in creating apps for the iPhone and 68 percent were very interested in doing so for Android--an 18 point spread. That spread has closed to just six points in the current survey (iPhone 87 percent, Android 81 percent, followed by iPad at 53 percent).

BlackBerry has doubled from 21 percent developer support in January to 43 percent in March, while Windows Phone has nearly tripled from 13 percent to 34 percent. This is likely due to an increased focus on mobile by Microsoft and RIMs' realization that competing platforms were starting to eat into their core enterprise BlackBerry customer base.

As with any other report, it's important to take these statistics with a grain of salt.

What's important to note is that we are really seeing a two-horse race emerge between Apple and Android (which is largely driven by Google ) for developers mind-share. Until the other platforms figure out ways to let developers directly monetize users and make applications easy to distribute, the new behemoths are going to be in good shape.

 

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