App developers praise Apple's iOS for its strong market share and revenue stream, but a huge number see Android as the platform with the most diverse potential over the long haul.
Among the more than 2,000 developers surveyed this past month by IDC and Appcelerator, 72 percent said Android is best positioned to power a larger and greater variety of devices in the future, compared with 25 percent who said the same about Apple. As a result, 59 percent of the app developers favor Android's long-term outlook versus 35 percent for iOS, according to the "Appcelerator IDC Mobile Developer Report, September 2010." (PDF)
The gap between those who like Android's long-term potential compared with Apple's iOS has grown by around 10 percentage points since a similar survey was done this past June, said IDC.
Apple is still tops in most other categories, especially those related to the short term. Most developers (74 percent) pegged iOS as having the best near-term outlook. Most see Apple as providing the best revenue stream, running the best app store, and offering the easiest way to search for apps. The fragmented nature of Google's OS is also a key worry for developers as only 11 percent said they did not find the Android platform to be fragmented, while 74 percent said they didn't find fragmentation in the iOS platform.
But Android still scores big with its OS. Although Apple recently changed its developer agreement and clarified its approval process, 85 percent of the developers surveyed see Android as the most open platform, compared with 6 percent for iOS. And 57 percent see Android as having the most capabilities versus 36 percent for iOS.
Beyond the smartphone market, developers were questioned about their interest in other technologies, such as tablets and Internet TV, both key factors in their long-term outlooks.
Around 62 percent of the respondents expressed strong interest in developing for an Android tablet, close to the same amount (58 percent) that wanted to develop for the iPad back in January. Interest in the iPad is even higher at 84 percent, but tablets sporting HP's WebOS and RIM's BlackBerry OS generated little interest.
Developing apps for TV is seen as a new and promising frontier. Among those surveyed, 44 percent said they're very interested in developing for Google TV, slightly more than the 40 percent eyeing Apple TV.
"Apps are poised to help remake the television viewing experience just as they have remade the mobile experience," Scott Ellison, IDC VP for Mobile & Wireless, said in a statement. "The television players who most effectively integrate app developers into their connected TV strategies are poised to potentially remake the television experience as we know it."
To conduct its study, Appcelerator and IDC surveyed 2,363 Appcelerator Titanium developers from September 14 to 16 of this year to gauge their thoughts on mobile OS priorities, app development needs, and the concept of "anywhere computing."