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Developers More Optimistic About Android's Long-Term Future than iPhone's

Developers see more long-term potential for Android than iPhone, according to a survey of more than 2,300 developers of mobile device applications.

The survey, conducted in mid-September, was a joint effort between Appcelerator, which makes tools for mobile app development, and analyst firm IDC. The purpose of the survey, according to a press release, was to gauge "perceptions surrounding mobile OS priorities, 'anywhere computing' trends and application development needs." 

One of the key findings was that 72 percent of those surveyed said that Android has a brighter future than iOS -- Apple's operating system for iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad. The chief reason for this belief appears to be the greater variety of devices running Android. As an open-source OS, Android can -- and is -- being used on a wide variety of phones and upcoming tablets. As it has almost always done, Apple controls the entire platform, both hardware and software.

Even though developers see Android as having the greatest growth potential, they still see iOS as the money maker in the short term. Ninety-one percent are "very interested" in developing for iOS, a number that drops to 82 percent for Android. This confirms other studies, which show that iPhone users are more likely to pay for apps than Android owners, who download more free apps. In fact, iOS development is lucrative enough that more developers -- 84 percent -- are prioritizing iPad development over Android phone development.

Those numbers could be changing, however, as Android use continues to skyrocket globally.  In the U.S. iOS has a head start of more than a year on Android and is considered to be a much more polished operating system, with more refined apps and a better marketplace. But Android's open platform is encouraging development, and those developers will produce increasingly better apps.

Developer enthusiasm for platforms other than Android and iOS is markedly lower, the survey shows. Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry checks in at 34 percent, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, now widely expected to debut in October, is at 28 percent, and webOS (Palm Pre) lags behind at 16 percent. Of the coming wave of tablet devices, only the Android tablet is generating much heat, with 62 percent of developers prioritizing it. WebOS tablet and BlackBerry tablet (announced yesterday by RIM) have the interest of 16 percent.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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