A new survey reveals Google’s Android operating system has replaced Apple’s iOS in terms of its importance to developers in the Asia-Pacific region.
The survey, conducted by technology analyst firm Ovum, was aimed at finding out how changes in the device market have altered app developers’ preferences when selecting platforms to use.
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Ovum interviewed more than 100 developers globally, asking them which platform they preferred, comparing the answers to last year’s survey.
Both the Android and Apple’s iOS still form the core of developer support, the survey said, but there is increasing interest from developers in Blackberry OS and Microsoft’s Windows phone.
Adam Leach, head of devices and platforms at Ovum, says a smartphone platform’s success is dictated not only by consumers but a “healthy economy” of applications delivered by developers.
“Therefore, it is important for all players in the smartphone ecosystem to understand the choices developers are making today, and the downstream impact of those choices,” Leach says.
An earlier report by Ovum reveals the Asia-Pacific smartphone market will double its size by 2016 to hit shipments of 200 million.
According to Ovum, Android will drive the growth and will emerge as the dominant platform, dramatically outperforming Apple with a massive 20% lead on market share.
“We will see dramatic shifts in dominance for smartphone software platforms, with Android storming into the lead,” Leach said in the report.
One Australian developer who launched on the Android platform first is Native Tongue, which makes apps to teach people new languages via video games.
“The Android version was launched in early November and the iPhone version was launched last week,” Native Tongue developer Matthew Ho says.
“We launched an MVP first on Android, iterated, released new product features, tested, analysed the states and learnt a lot from that experience.”
“There’s a lot of benefits for launching first on Android because of the easier approval process and ability to test immediately.”
According to Ovum, the trends in this year’s survey mirror changes in the wider smartphone market.
Developers have been quick to respond to the exit of once-important smartphone platforms such as Windows Mobile, Symbian and WebOS, and have embraced the potential of newer platforms.
The research also shows a move away from traditional cross-platform mobile application approaches such as Java, Flash and WAP.
Instead, developers are focusing their efforts on web-based standards, such as HTML5, which appear to be the preferred approach to building cross-platform applications.
But despite the increasing use of cross-platform approaches, most developers are still using vendor-specific distribution channels, such as Android Market, to deploy applications.
Ovum explains that this is seen as the best way for developers to reach the largest possible audience for their applications.