Android engagement slips but devs give thumbs up to Google+

While romantics would tell you that it’s impossible to measure love in statistical terms, research released today revealed that developer passion for Android has waned by 10% in the last year.

Although a healthy majority of developers, 78.6%, still said they were interested in creating apps for the platform, the figure has slipped from 87% during the first quarter of 2011, according to industry analysts IDC and Appcelerator, marking an alarming swing for Google.

The reason? The huge number of disparate devices adapting the platform in different ways is causing damaging levels of fragmentation for Android, said Appcelerator’s principle mobile strategist Mike King.

"If you look at all the other numbers, such as Android smartphone market share, it's on the upswing, but for app developers it's a real challenge,” he said. “The fragmentation of the platform, which Google seems unable to curtail, is driving a drop in interest.”

The report also predicts that HTML5 will ‘move to centre stage’ in 2012. “This approach will help developers innovate across a crowded mobile landscape that has seen iOS, Android and Windows 7 claim the top three spots, while RIM and others have experienced significant declines,” it said.

However, it wasn’t all bad news for Google. The report also revealed that developers believe Google is perfectly placed for its foray into social networking to mount a serious challenge to Facebook.

With over half of social media users accessing their services over mobile, the two thirds of developers who felt that Google’s extensive reach, joining up services like Gmail, search, YouTube and Google Maps would provide extra momentum as Google+ strives to claw its way level with Facebook’s almost 900 million users.

"The engagement with the developers gives Google the ability to punch well above its weight in terms of mobile and social," said King.

Below are the top findings from this quarter’s report:

HTML5 becomes important to many mobile developer strategies.  A resounding 79% of mobile developers report that they will integrate HTML5 in their apps in 2012.  This is much higher than many industry observers had anticipated as late as Q4 2011.

Developers are struggling to understand and leverage Facebook’s social graph.  Leveraging the full social graph itself ranked low – tied for 8th out of 11 social priorities for developers, while developers’ top uses of social remain notifications, status updates and authentication.

Google’s network effects of its vast assets are a key strategic differentiator against Facebook.  Google’s footprint across its assets (search, advertising, YouTube, Gmail, Android, Maps, etc.) and its resultant network effect is indexing higher than expected, given the size of Facebook’s massive lead in social.

Mobile app development continues to Accelerate in 2012. More than half (53.5%) of respondents report that they are now focused on Accelerating their mobile strategies compared to 27.4% in 2010, and 16.9% of respondents report that they will be focused on Innovating their mobile apps in 2012 compared to 9.2% in 2010.

Windows Phone 7 interest remains high. WP7 is the clear “number three” OS in terms of priorities, after Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.  The huge jump in interest in Q4 2011 is holding steady notwithstanding somewhat disappointing WP7 device sales to date.

This quarter saw another sharp drop in developer interest in BlackBerry OS. Developer interest declined from 20.7% in Q4 2011 to 15.5% in Q1 2012, set against negative news around RIM’s challenges.

iOS continues to reign at number one in developer interest levels. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of respondents say they are very interested in developing for the iPhone, followed by the iPad at 88%.

Android phones and tablets are showing slow erosion of interest levels.  This quarter, interest in Android phones dropped 4.7% points to 78.6%, and Android tablets dropped 2.2% points to 65.9% from the previous survey.  Although close to or within the margins of error, these drops are consistent with the trend of small but steady erosion in Android interest over the last four quarters, even as enormous growth in Android unit shipments continues.

Location and notifications are the top two cloud services developers plan to use to help scale. Location and notifications are the top two services that developers plan to integrate into their applications to help scale up their mobile initiatives in 2012.

 

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