recently reported their findings from two surveys of their 33k+ worldwide customer base this year. The data reveals interesting trends in a broad group of web developers that build applications for mobile and desktop platforms. This group develops most of their applications using web languages (for the desktop, Ruby and Python) so there's no bias towards one native platform. DZone spoke with Scott Schwarzhoff, the Appcelerator VP of Marketing, about the details of the survey. Appcelerator produces Titanium
, a framework for building web apps that run natively on Android, the iPhone, and the major desktop operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux). An SDK for developing native iPad applications in Titanium will be released on April 5th, two days after the iPad release.
The first survey
was conducted one week before the iPad was unveiled. Out of 17k registered Titanium users at the time, 554 completed the survey. The second survey was conducted throughout the month of March. After the release of Titanium 1.0, the registered developer base doubled, so out of 33k developers 1,028 took the second survey. For each mobile platform (and for the iPad), the survey asked respondents if they were 'very interested,' 'somewhat interested,' or 'not at all interested' in developing for that platform. The polls were conducted via email and no incentives were offered.
The poll results reveal that the interest in Android and iPhone development is nearly equal while interest in the iPad platform is ranked third in developer interest. Microsoft's Windows Phone and RIM's BlackBerry are trailing the leaders, but they are making great strides to catch up.
A week before the iPad unveiling, Appcelerator found that 90% of its respondents in the first survey were interested ("somwhat" or "very" interested) in developing for the iPad. The larger, more recent survey completed at the end of March had 80% of the developers showing interest in the platform. That 10% drop is most likely due to the lack of expected features (camera, multitasking, etc.) in the iPad. However, Schwarzhoff is still optimistic about the iPad's prospects: "80% saying that they want to build an app on a platform that doesn't exist yet, and is in a completely new category, is pretty good," said Schwarzhoff.
At the top of the board, the race between the iPhone and Android for the most developer interest has gotten even tighter. In the January survey, the iPhone had almost 20% more of the respondents' interest compared to Android. Now, that gap has closed to just 6%, with iPhone still in the lead. The next highest platform behind the two leaders was the iPad with 53% "very interested" developers.
Schwartzoff said there's a big difference between large and small development shops. 58% of Small development shops wanted to develop for the iPad while only
35% of of the big dev shops were interested. He says this is probably because because the bigger companies have more on the line and they tend to be more risk-adverse. The iPad could end up being a luxury item with a very small market, and those bigger shops are waiting to see how popular it becomes. Scwarzhoff says that solo developers represent about half of Titanium's users. Shops with 2-10 employees represent another 20%, and large development shops make up the final 30%.
A valiant effort has been mounted by RIM recently, which has caused BlackBerry interest to jump from 21% to 43%. Schwarzhoff says that BlackBerry is an appealing platform because it is shipping the largest number of units and RIM has significantly increased the capabilities of the platform in the last few months. "You can do push notifications now, you can do fully interactive social and mapping functions, and they've got an API that's getting closer to Android and iPhone's," said Schwarzhoff.
Windows Phone is another platform with spiking interest in Appcelerator's recent report. After the complete reboot of the Windows Mobile platform was announced, the respondents' interest nearly tripled, climbing from 13% interest in January to 34% at the end of March. Since the release of the first Windows Phone is still several months away, Schwarzhoff says that interest could grow even more this year.
Symbian, Palm, and Meego have the lowest developer interest with 16%, 14%, and 12% respectively. In the second survey, Appcelerator also included Amazon's Kindle to provide comparison for the iPad. The Amazon eReader, which recently released their SDK, only got 12% interest.