Developer survey: iOS mindshare drops 5%, Android jumps 4%

Survey offers insights on the two top platforms, but suggests there's still room for a third
Tools

Android and iOS may compete fiercely for developer attention, but those that don't create apps for either platform can expect to make half as much money as their peers, according to a recent research report.

View select slides from the report.

According to Vision Mobile's 2013 Developer Economics survey, which canvassed the opinions of more than 3,400 developers from around the world, iOS continues to be the highest priority platform, with 48 percent of developers leading with the OS as they create apps. While that may not be surprising, Developer Economics also created an index that measured "mindshare"--how many developers use each platform--which indicated Android adoption is picking up the pace. The survey indicated a 4 percent jump in Android mindshare to 72 percent, while iOS mindshare dropped five percentage points. Vision Mobile attributed this to the increased adoption of Android by Asian developers, but warned that API fragmentation may prove challenging for developers in the future.

As RIM readies its BlackBerry 10 platform upgrade and Microsoft continues to rally interest around Windows Phone 8, the Developer Economics report suggests that there's still plenty of room for alternative platforms. The survey indicated 75 percent of developers use up to three platforms, which Vision Mobile suggested was a wise strategy from a revenue perspective.

"In mobile development, loyalty to one platform is not something that pays off," the report said. "Our research shows that the revenues are higher when using more platforms. For example, an iOS developer porting an app on Android is likely to experience some growth in revenue. At the same time, for developers working on four or more platforms, higher revenues are probably the result of extending an already successful app to more platforms."

Other possibilities for a viable third platform could include HTML5, which Vision Mobile said is used by 50 percent of developers either to create a mobile Web app or as a development environment for native or hybrid apps. 

Beyond its analysis of the platform wars, Vision Mobile's research notes the proliferation of more than 500 third-party tools such as ad networks and user analytics SDKs, which can assist developers in differentiating their apps.

"In the last three years, developers have moved from being coders, to innovators, designers and makers and a prized customer for the hundreds of firms making up the SDK economy, part of the bigger B2D (business to app developer) market," the report said. "Developer needs haven't changed much in the last few years; what has changed is the flurry of startups, from Appcelerator to Zong, which emerged to cater to those needs."

Among those tools, ad networks may prove critical: Advertising was cited as the No. 1 source of revenue in Vision Mobile's research.

For more:
- read the Developer Economics report

Related articles: 
Flurry: Seven out of every 10 apps are developed for Apple's iOS
Android Market makeover can't hide fatal flaws