After conducting their second annual developers' survey, London-based IT consultancy firm Ovum found Android is fast set to eclipse iOS "in terms of importance to developers," according to a recent press release.
iOS and Android are currently the top two platforms for mobile developers, with "growing interest" in Windows Phone and, amazingly, BlackBerry OS (despite the company's recent turmoil).
The survey, entitled "Developer Insights 2011: Trends in Mobile Application Development," was conducted to determine how recent changes in the mobile device market have also changed which platforms and technologies developers choose when building mobile apps.
Some of the insights revealed in the survey square with common-sense views of the smartphone market. Interest continues to build in Windows Phone 7, although it still lags far behind iOS and Android in terms of overall market share. Adam Leach, devices and platforms practice leader at Ovum, and author of the above research report, puts it this way: "The growing momentum behind Windows Phone indicates that Microsoft has managed to convince developers that its platform is worthy of investment; its challenge now is to persuade consumers."
The report also shows an increasing interest in web-based standards such as HTML5 as the way forward for building cross-platform mobile applications. The more traditional cross-platform approaches--e.g, Java and Flash--are on the wane. But vendor-specific distribution channels, such as Android Market, remain the most viable way to reach and build an audience for those applications.
While the survey focused on smartphones, developers who build for phones -- Android and iOS in particular -- are finding a growing market for their applications on tablets as well. With the growth of inexpensive (if slightly dodgy) Android tablets, like the $199 Kindle Fire and the forthcoming $200 Google Nexus tablet -- and a horde of even lower-priced tablets on the horizon after that -- a parallel market is opening up. Android apps originally written for smartphones sometimes need tweaking to run well on tablets, but it's inevitable that applications written for each venue may cross over into the other.