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11/14/2011
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RIM Loses Developer Interest, Microsoft Gains

Microsoft's partnership with Nokia led to a surge in interest in its Windows Phone platform by developers, according to IDC research.

Amazon Kindle Fire: Visual Tour
Amazon Kindle Fire: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
IDC polled more than 2,100 developers earlier this month to gauge interest in today's mobile devices and platforms. The results paint a positive picture for Microsoft and Amazon, and a less rosy one for Research In Motion.

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS saw a huge increase in developer interest, seeing an 8 point rise to 38% of respondents saying they are "very interested" in the platform. IDC says this is the highest rating Microsoft has ever achieved and puts interest in Windows Phone ahead of RIM's BlackBerry platform.

The number of developers who indicated that they are "very interested" in RIM's BlackBerry platform dropped 7 points to 21%. Interest in RIM's PlayBook QNX-based tablet dropped 6 points to 13%. IDC says there's now more interest in Nokia's new Lumia Windows Phone lineup than RIM's smartphones.

"Microsoft is enjoying symbiotic success with Nokia," wrote IDC in its report. "When asked why developers are more interested in Windows Phone 7 now than a year ago, 48% said it was the Microsoft/Nokia partnership. Nokia also received high marks from its new Lumia Windows Phone 7 smartphone announcement last month, with 28% of developers saying they are 'very interested' in developing for the device."

[ What's the future for Windows Phone? Read Windows Phone: It's Make Or Break Time. ]

Developers remain most interested in Android and iOS, but now Windows Phone is clearly in third place--38% to BlackBerry's 21%.

IDC says that 91% of respondents are "very interested" in developing for Apple's iPhone and 88% are "very interested" in developing for Apple's iPad--both of which run iOS. Interest in developing for Android phones actually fell 4 points, with 83% claiming to be "very interested" in the smartphone platform. Interest in developing for Android tablets dropped 6 points to 68%.

IDC attributes the drop in interest in Android phones and tablets to the arrival of Apple's iOS platform, which it said was the "most significant developer event" during the quarter. IDC appears to have not accounted the imminent arrival of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which is due to land any day on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Android 4.0 was announced on October 19, which fell in the fourth quarter of the year.

Looking specifically at developer interest in tablets, there is clear excitement for Amazon's new Kindle Fire. According to IDC's numbers, the Kindle Fire generated the second highest level of interest for Android tablets, behind only the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

"As the mobile industry advances, contenders are finding success by securing new footholds and partnerships to compete against Apple's dominance," IDC concluded. "Amazon announced the Kindle Fire, a smaller, cheaper Android-based tablet that leverages its large content library while Microsoft's Window's Phone 7 is building strong European developer enthusiasm thanks to its Nokia partnership. Developers and businesses gave high marks to these strong moves, which contrast sharply against BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry's QNX-based PlayBook, and webOS, all of which collapsed in interest with developers this past quarter."

The question, then, is what can RIM do to rekindle developer interest in its platform so it can better compete against Apple, Google, and Microsoft? More importantly, can Microsoft capitalize on this surge in developer interest to sell its Windows Phone devices and grab the market share it needs to succeed?

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