Developer Interest in Android Declines; Keep Building Anyway

Android figureInterest in Android development has dropped over the last four years, it seems. In August, 66 percent of developers were very interested in working with Android tablets and 76 percent felt the same way about Android smartphones. That’s a 2- and 3-point drop respectively.

All of this comes from a report by Appcelorator, maker of the Titanium mobile development platform. The company surveyed over 5,000 mobile developers in August.

iPhone remained the most attractive platform for developers, with 85 percent preferring Apple over Robots in the smartphone arena. Android phones ranked third, Android tablets fourth behind iPad. Developers liked iOS over Android’s fragmented install base.

Google’s inability to curtail Android’s massive fragmentation, even with Ice Cream Sandwich, has forced developers to focus on the iPad as the leading tablet platform, and on the iPhone first for smartphone apps.

Developers predicted that by 2015 they’ll be building the majority of apps for smartphones. Other form factors of interest were televisions, connected cards, gaming consoles, foldable screens and Google Glass. The Internet of Things will bring even more opportunities as more things are introduced.

I didn’t take the survey, but I agree with those who did. I believe we’ll be seeing a number of newly connected devices by 2015. For example, connected household appliances are coming. GE is already working on a refrigerator with repair prediction analytics built in. For now, technicians connect to the appliance to download performance metrics. In the future, the fridge will be able to tell the technician exactly what’s not working and what must be replaced. There’s no reason other connected functions can’t be added in the future, agree?

Just because the overall developer universe is showing a declining interest in Android doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep working with it. Considering the buying cycle for TVs, I suspect apps will become the best method of extending functionality without pouring cash into a whole new set every two years.  While porting Android smartphone and tablet apps to Google TV is the most obvious path, developers with Web app experience will find it advantageous to expand to the TV market. Web apps using JavaScript, XML, CSS and Flash are the most common right now in smart TV development.

It would be wise for carriers to close the gap between older and newer versions of Android on their networks.  This would lessen fragmentation and encourage further development. Carriers are working more closely with Google to push security updates and major releases to subscribers in a timely manner would be a major win. After all, carriers are responsible for a huge portion of the fragmentation in the market.

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