Marking a shift in the mobile computing space, Google's Android platform has begun losing developers to Apple's iOS, according to data released this week by mobile application analytics provider Flurry, which tracks developer support across various platforms.
Based on the findings of its Flurry Analytics service, in which the company assesses Android and iOS project starts, Flurry declares in a statement, "it's readily apparent Android has lost developer support to iOS" in 2011. "Specifically, Android new project starts have dropped from 36 percent [of the total] in Q1 to 28 percent in Q2."
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New project starts for iPhone and iPod grew from 54 percent in the first quarter of this year to 57 percent in the subsequent quarter, while iPad jumped from 10 percent to 15 percent in that time period. Android developer support had peaked at 39 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. Total Flurry iOS and Android new project starts grew from 9,100 in the first quarter of this year to 10,200 in the second quarter.
Developers had been been increasingly building for Android relative to iOS in 2010, according to Flurry vice president Peter Farago. Then he notes, "In 2011, however, iOS seems to have not only halted but reversed that trend." Flurry has identified the iPhone launch on Verizon in February and the iPad 2 launch in March as probable causes in the shift in developer support. The Verizon launch closed a significant vulnerability gap in U.S. distribution and likely worldwide, Flurry said. Wholesale acceptance of tablets, meanwhile, is further luring developers to iPad over Android.
Also, Flurry cited issues with Google Android Market for Android applications and storefront fragmentation. Ongoing work to improve the Android Market layout and to push adoption of Google Checkout are critical, Flurry said: "PayPal's recent acquisition of mobile payment player, Zong, demonstrates that Google may not be enabling consumer payment quickly or well enough, which is inviting third-party competition and creating billing fragmentation. Furthermore, the development community is concerned about the rising cost of deploying across the Android installed base, due to the double whammy of OS and storefront fragmentation. With developers pinched on both sides of the revenue and cost equation, Google must tack aggressively at this stage of the race to ensure that Apple doesn't continue to take its developer-support wind."
Flurry also looked at BlackBerry, Symbian, and Windows Phone project starts but found "all three created an 'other' bucket that wasn't that large," Farago said. "The significant majority of companies are developing for iOS and Android. Windows Phone 7 will likely increase as the first new devices ship since the Nokia-Microsoft partnership."
Flurry Analytics provides real-time data to developers on how consumers use mobile applications, as well as how applications are performing across different handsets. About 45,000 companies use Flurry Analytics across 90,000 applications, Flurry said. Developers set up "new projects" in the company's system and note the selection of platform.
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