App Developers Split Between Android and iOS, but Windows Is On the Rise

Despite all the bells and whistles that go into smartphones and tablets these days, success in this ecosystem still depends on the same thing that separated the original iPhone from the rest of the pack: applications. While there has been no shortage of pundits giving their opinion on how the application landscape will fare over the next few years, a new survey goes to the source of all these applications – app developers – to find out how they see the future of mobility.

What 6,000 Developers Say

It’s easy to get lost in the wave of marketing that dominates the mobile space, and this may make it difficult to see the realities of modern mobility. At this point, it’s clear that Android and iOS are dominant in the space, but with millions of devices in use around the world, do other players like BlackBerry or Microsoft have something to look forward to, or are BB10 and Windows just filling the “also ran” space before they finally get pushed out of the market?

A new study on the matter was commissioned by VisionMobile and reported on by VentureBeat. The study asked questions of over 6,000 developers from 115 countries, and it forms a fairly clear picture of the current mobile ecosystem and gives hints about the future of mobility.

Android wins in sheer numbers, with 71 percent of developers actively developing for the platform, compared to 56 percent who are developing for iOS. A gap between the two is not surprising considering that the massive collection of Android handsets outsold the iPhone by almost 4-to-1, but that’s not the whole story.

Almost 60 percent of app developers who work with iOS use the platform as their primary development priority, compared with just under 50 percent of developers who use the Android platform. Developers also report getting $5,200 per month from their apps on the iOS platform while only getting $4,700 per month from apps on the Android platform.

The Future Mobile Marketplace

Of course, Google and Apple aren’t the only players in this space, even if it sometimes seems like it. Microsoft appeared to be well represented in the study. Windows 8 and Windows Phone both scored highly with developers looking to adopt a new platform in the coming months, and Windows Phone was the third highest when it came to revenue derived from applications, at $3,600 per month. This shift in interest to Microsoft does create a problem for BlackBerry, as both BlackBerry 10 and older BlackBerry platforms fared poorly in the mindshare and revenue areas of the study. It’s hard to imagine the BB10 operating system catching on with either consumers or businesses if these application numbers don’t improve.

It will take a monumental effort by Microsoft to edge its way into the space dominated by Apple and Google right now, leaving the immediate smartphone and mobile market in as near a duopoly as you’ll ever find. For people in the market for a new device, like those ready to sell their old phone or tablet, choosing Google or Android will certainly provide the access to the most applications.

The near future, however, is not so clear. Windows is attracting some developer interest, and the obvious tie-ins with the desktop operating system mean that the OS will be a force in the coming years. This is especially true when considering that Nokia’s feature-phone push into developing markets will soon change over to Windows-based phones, giving the tech giant a way to use inexpensive smartphones to push their sales quantities above Apple’s high-end devices and claim second place in the smartphone world. This alone could be enough to attract significant developer attention to the platform and further establish Microsoft as a major player in the space, making a Windows-based phone a viable alternative for people looking to upgrade their device.