Developer Interest In Android Tablets Stalls - InformationWeek

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4/22/2011
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Developer Interest In Android Tablets Stalls

Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry phones both saw a significant drop in interest from application developers.

Most Android tablets aren't selling very well and developers aren't quite as keen to develop for them as they were during the tablet hype surrounding the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Motorola's XOOM tablet has sold only 25,000 to 120,000 units, according Global Equities analyst Trip Chowdhry. Samsung has been at pains to insist that its Galaxy Tab is actually selling well after acknowledging in its January earnings call that the sales figures released earlier in the month, 2 million, reflected units distributed to partners rather than units actually sold.

The Android tablet cause hasn't been helped by Google's decision in March to delay the open-source release of its tablet-tuned version of Android ("Honeycomb") to iron out the bugs. Nor has it been helped by Gartner's prediction in March that Apple's iOS will dominate the media tablet market through 2015.

This is bad news for businesses counting on the commodity pricing that Android promises.

There is a bright spot however: Barnes & Noble's Nook Color, newly refreshed with Android 2.2 ("Froyo"), has sold "millions" of units, according to the company. At $249, the Nook Color is about half the price of Apple's most sparsely appointed iPad 2.

Nevertheless, the stumbling of credible Android-powered challengers to Apple's iPad has affected mobile developers.

Research firm IDC and Appcelerator, maker of a cross-platform mobile development framework, surveyed 2,760 Appcelerator developers in mid-April and found interest in Android tablets isn't growing at the rate seen in January, during the previous installment of what has become a quarterly survey.

In January, interest in developing for Android tablets reached 74%, up 12 percentage points from the Q4, 2010 survey. In April, interest in developing for Android tablets declined three percentage points to 71%.

Scott Schwarzhoff, VP of marketing for Appcelerator, suggested in a phone interview that interest in Android tablet development had stalled.

According to the survey, mobile developers are worried about fragmentation (63%), lackluster Android tablet sales (30%), the growing number of Android stores (28%), and that tablet pricing is too high (27%). Some 22% explained their ambivalence toward Android by saying that iOS is a better mobile operating system, while 19% said they believed they could make more money with Apple. About 13% said they had their hands full with iOS.

Among the respondents, 91% expressed interest in developing for Apple's iPhone and 86% said as much about the company's iPad. These figures are only one percentage point less in each case than they were in January. Interest in developing for Android phones declined two percentage points to 85% since January.

Schwarzhoff said that the margin of error for the study is 2%, which makes it difficult to say anything conclusive about developer interest in iOS or Android phones. iOS is still the platform developers are most focused on and Android the still the platform developers are betting on as the future market leader.

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