Survey: Developer Tablet Interest Shifting to Android
Although Android has overtaken the iPhone as the most popular smartphone platform on the planet, the iPad still rules in the tablet space. But that dominance may soon be over as well, according to a new study that shows developers gravitating toward Android tablets.
The study, by Evans Data, shows that 73 percent of developers worldwide are either writing apps for tablets or plan to within six months. And Android is the platform they're targeting the most.
Janel Garvin, Evans Data CEO, said in an e-mail interview that developer interest in Android tablets will mirror the shift that happened in smartphones. "Android overtook iOS as the biggest target for developers for smartphones about a year and a half ago," she says. "Developers always lead the consumer market and it wasn't until very recently that shipments of Android phones overtook shipments of iPhones."
"For this reason," she continues, "We expect that Android tablets will similarly overtake iPads in the future -- and developers feel the same way. We continually find that developers feel Android has the biggest market potential and potential is very important to someone spending their time and money writing apps."
The survey, which included more than 400 mobile software developers, found that 34.7 are currently building tablet-focused apps, and 38.7 percent plan to within six months. Just 8 percent aren't interested, and the remainder see tablet development coming, but not within six months.
Garvin says the reasons for increasing developer interest in Android tablets over iPads are similar to the smartphone shift. "The primary one is that a lot more devices exist in the smartphone market for Android than iOS, and this will also be the case with tablets. More devices mean more choice, and also more support from multiple companies in the form of marketing, dollars spent for promotion -- a bigger, more pervasive presence for the target operating system and so on."
The less-controlled dev environment is a factor as well, Garvin believes. Developers, she says, are "Free to write and distribute Android apps, and the open aspect of the platform is very appealing to developers."
Samsung, which makes the red-hot Galaxy S3 Android phone, is the brand that developers most often point to as their tablet platform of choice, the survey found.
Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8 -- and especially the tablet-specific WinRT version that will run on tablets -- is also piquing developers' interest, Gavin says. "We see a lot of interest for Windows 8 development (Metro), and expect that it will become one of the top three OS's for tablets. Developers are very open to the new OS, and Microsoft's MSDN has the largest registered developer community in the world, which will smooth the way to promoting adoption amongst developers."
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.