Survey: Android And iOS Top Mobile Platforms For App Development, But Who's Third?

More mobile-app developers create apps for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android than for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, but iOS is more profitable, according to a survey of 6,000 developers by market analyst VisionMobile.

In the survey, 71 percent of respondents said they are developing for Android, while 57 percent said they are developing for iOS. But when it comes to revenue, iOS delivers $5,200 per developer each month, compared with $4,700 per developer each month with Android.

Respondents said they develop for an average of about three platforms at the same time. That third-ranked platform? Mobile HTML5, with 52 percent of developers using it as a target. BlackBerry and Windows Phone trail with 29 percent developing for all BlackBerry platforms (21 percent for BlackBerry 10) and 21 percent for Windows Phone.

The survey didn't break out numbers for what kind of apps developers are working on, so it's not possible to tell whether retail-related apps break down the same way. Given the heavy deployment of iPads and iPod Touches for in-store use, the iOS numbers may be higher for retail apps.

Much more significant is probably that third-platform choice. Retailers already know they have to target the two platforms that currently make up 92 percent of smartphone sales. But many chains have been puzzling over the choice between the declining BlackBerry and the slowly rising Windows Phone as a third platform. About a quarter of mobile developers say they intend to start developing for Windows Phone as an additional platform, according to the survey—significantly higher than for any other platform.

That seems to suggest retailers will have more luck finding someone to develop that third app if it's for Windows Phone. On the other hand, intentions are unreliable—six months ago, roughly one-third of developers were saying the same thing, but the percentage of developers actually developing for Windows Phone hasn't risen in the time since.

That leaves the thoroughly unglamorous HTML5, which isn't targeted at a particular platform and is used either for generic mobile websites or for apps using a variety of technologies as wrappers. That makes fine tuning for a particular platform impossible. But given that only 8 percent of new smartphones are outside the sandboxes of Android and iOS, just going the generic route and waiting for customers to decide who's number three may be the most cost effective thing to do.

For more:

- See this VentureBeat story

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