Mobile developers see big rise in demand for enterprise apps

Developer survey finds growing interest in iPhone and iPad over Android

Mobile developers are seeing a healthy increase in demand to build business apps instead of consumer-facing apps, according to newly released survey from Appcelerator and IDC. What's more, developers reported being most interested in building apps for the Apple iPhone and iPad, compared to Android, HTML5 Web apps, and other competing platforms.

Appcelerator and IDC surveyed 6,046 mobile developers for their Q2 2013 Mobile Developer Report. The fact that 43 percent of respondents said they'll be working on business apps -- up from 29 percent at the end of 2010 -- isn't necessarily surprising: Thanks to the evolution of smartphones and the momentum of the BYOD movement, mobile devices are popping up throughout the business world and professionals are using them for real work. It makes sense that companies are having apps custom-built to their specific needs.

The report also found that developers are increasingly eyeing tablets as the next application platform: 81 percent of respondents said they'd build for tablets over the next six months, and 84 percent said they'd code for smartphones. Notably, whereas iOS and Windows developers expressed roughly equal interest in smartphone and tablet forms, Android developers reported a significant bias against the tablet.

Speaking of platforms, the survey asked respondents which mobile platforms they were "very interested" in building on. The most popular response was iPhone at around 87 percent, followed by the iPad at around 84 percent. iPhone and iPad have held those first and second slots since June 2010.

Respondents identified "Android phone" as their third most-preferred mobile platform at around 77 percent. "Android tablet" apps came in fourth at around 65 percent -- following very closely by HTML5 mobile Web apps at around 64 percent. Developer interest in Android appears to have dwindled considerably since the middle of last year.

"This likely reflects fragmentation around the platform, unclear revenue potential of lower-end devices, and a lack of information about 'Key Lime Pie,'" the report said. "Only Google's own Nexus product line punches above its weight, continuing to draw developer interest despite a relatively limited audience and geographic availability."

Around 36 developers said they were very interested in developing for Windows Phone; 35 percent said the same of Windows Tablet. Interest in Windows Phone has increased steadily since August 2012, when just 22 percent of developers to build for the platform. "Whether this marks a final bottoming-out or stabilization on the way to growth remains to be seen. End-users cite a lack of apps for Windows phones as the No. 1 reason for non-adoption. In lockstep, many developers cite a lack of engagement from Microsoft," according to the report.

Firefox OS piqued the interest of around 25 percent of the respondents, edging out the Kindle platform by a point or so. Down in the dregs are BlackBerry Phone at around 12 percent (up from 8 percent last year) and BlackBerry Playbook at around 8 percent. Tizen finished out the list at around 5 percent. Notably, the survey found that developers remain interested in building for multiple OSes, with the average developer writing for 2.5 platforms.

This story, "Mobile developers see big rise in demand for enterprise apps," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.