Survey: Developers eager for Kindle Fire

The low-cost tablet could jump-start an Android market that is not competing favorably against the iPad in Appcelerator's survey's Kindle Fire tablet, which is slated to ship tomorrow, is attracting plenty of early interest from developers, based on a survey of more than 2,000 developers conducted early this month.

In their most recent quarterly survey on mobile OS trends, mobile application development software vendor Appcelerator and analyst firm IDC found that the Kindle Fire had topped the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet as the most popular Android tablet in North America. It has a level of interest about equal to what Apple's iPad had registered just prior to launch in April 2010. Forty-nine percent of developers in North America polled said they were very interested in building for the Kindle Fire in the latest survey; 53 percent had wanted to build for iPad when it first appeared. Worldwide, the Kindle Fire attracted interest from 43 percent of developers, second only to Samsung Galaxy Tab in the Android category with 56 percent. The survey involved 2,160 developers using the Appcelerator Titanium application development platform.

[ Kindle Fire doesn't hold a candle to the iPad, InfoWorld's Galen Gruman says. | Get more on mobile technology by subscribing to InfoWorld's Mobilize newsletter. ]

The Kindle Fire features a 7-inch, multitouch display, Wi-Fi, and Amazon's Silk Web browser, but it lacks features like a microphone and camera. Accessibility to Amazon's vast library of content and the device's $199 price tag make the Kindle Fire attractive, said Scott Schwarzhoff, Appcelerator's vice president of marketing.

The Kindle Fire, however, has its drawbacks for developers, notably that it perpetuates fragmentation in the Android space, Schwarzhoff said. "The Kindle Fire will introduce a separate Android development path for developers," he said. "It's yet another version -- and a very distinct version -- that developers will have to keep track of." Still, this problem "is not going to be a showstopper."

The Kindle Fire could jump-start an Android market that has faced setbacks in Appcelerator's survey. Overall, developer interest in Android smartphones fell about 4 points to 83 percent while Android tablets dropped almost six points to 68 percent. Android tablets "are not competing favorably against the iPad," Schwarzoff said.

Tops among developers in the survey was Apple's iOS, with a whopping 91 percent of developers very interested in the iPhone and 88 percent very interested in the iPad. In other findings, Windows Phone 7 jumped by eight percentage points, with 38 percent of developers very interested in the platform. Not faring so well was Research in Motion, with Blackberry OS smartphones dropping 7 points to 21 percent, and the QNX-based BlackBerry PlayBook tablets dropped from 19 percent to 13 percent. "Let's put it this way: The PlayBook ranks under the HP TouchPad right before HP pulled the plug," Schwarzhoff said.

HTML5 keeps attracting a lot of interest with 65 percent interested in building HTML mobile websites. This was the same percentage as last quarter. But connected TV application development is sliding, with 20 percent interested in Google TV as opposed to 44 percent a year ago.

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