The Android platform is taking a few hits these days as it moves towards unification with Linux and further integration into Google with Google Play. There was the report of a developer leaving Android development due to lack of interest in his games. While an isolated case, a new study from Appcelerator confirms the trend – developers are losing interest in Android.
Before we get into this study, it’s important to note that Appcelerator’s study doesn’t account for all app developers. The study surveyed 2,173 Appcelerator Titanium developers on their plans and development priorities, then called 484 of those developers back in for further questioning. While it’s not every developer, it’s a decent sample size that should be able to predict general movements within the smartphone development arena.
Mobile app development is on the rise according to the report. It says that more than half of the respondents said they are now focused on increasing their mobile development. About 16.7 percent of these same respondents also said they will focus on innovating their apps in 2012.
The rise in mobile development doesn’t mean that interest across all platforms is as high. It’s found that interest in Android development is dropping. The interest in developing for Android phones dropped 4.7 percent to 78.6 percent and interest in Android tablets dropped 2.2 percent to 65.9 percent.
At least Android isn’t as bad off as the Blackberry OS with interest in that platform dropping 5.2 percent from last year to 15.5 percent overall.
Windows Phone 7 interest seems to be rising with the platform taking a solid third place after iOS and Android. The launch of the Windows 8 phones and tablets might help grow those numbers later this year.
If you’re more of the visual type, here are two graphs that chart developer interest in various platforms. The first is overall interest in mobile platforms taken from the most recent survey.
The second is looking at growth or decline of interest from 2010 to 2012 for each platform. This graph is the most striking as it visibly tracks the decline Android is currently experiencing.
Appcelerator’s principal mobile strategist Mike King spoke to The Register on the decline of Android development interest. He says the blame falls squarely on Android’s fragmentation of its own market. The multitude of devices, all potentially running different versions of Android, make it hard for developers to make money according to King.
Another trend in 2012 seems to be the rise of HTML5. Seventy-nine percent of mobile developers are planning to use HTML5 in some capacity this year for their apps. Pure HTML5 development is not all that popular yet, however, as only six percent of developers are planning to build an entire app using HTML5. The majority of developers (72 percent) are building hybrid apps that utilize some HTML5 code, but also use other programming languages when building apps.
App developers are going to utilize cloud technologies in a big way in 2012. Thirty-five percent of developers are wanting to use the cloud to implement location technologies into their apps with 33 percent using the cloud for notifications.
On a final note, developers are using social media integration in the same ways they were using them last year. The top three uses of social media are literally unchanged from last year – notifications, sharing status updates and authentication. As much as Facebook touts Open Graph as being the future of apps using Facebook, only 17 percent of developers are actively using it.
The entire study can be obtained for free at Appcelerator’s Web site. It’s a good indicator of what the mobile app ecosystem is going to look like in 2012. It will be interesting to see if Google responds to developer concerns over its Android environment slipping.