Google's Android platform fragmentation is worrisome to developers, but most are quite bullish about writing apps for the open-source platform, as well as Apple iOS.
Google's Android operating system is pacing
the U.S. smartphone market with 33 percent share, so clearly consumers
are buying millions of phones that Motorola, Samsung, HTC and others are
However, gross fragmentation in the Android platform and
overall ecosystem has some developers nervous, according to a survey of 250
developers conducted by Baird analyst William Power.
For context, 71 percent of the respondents develop for
Android, followed by 62 percent for iOS. Also, 70 percent of the iOS developers
claimed they also develop for Android, with 63 percent of Android developers
also developing for iOS. Ideally, this lends some validity to developers'
ability to judge both platforms.
To wit, some 56 percent of Android developers said that
OS fragmentation is a meaningful or huge problem. Indeed, a quick perusal of
Google's Android device dashboard shows
7 versions of Android, including the new Android 3.0
Moreover, the rise of new Android applications stores
from Verizon and Amazon.com has Android programmers worried. Power said developers prefer a unified, single store
experience like Apple's App Store.
"We view this feedback as directionally negative for
the Android ecosystem and its handset partners, though we would note that this
risk is well known by the market and developers view Android's long-term
prospects as bright," Power wrote in his April 4 research note.
The bright, long-term prospects are likely indicative of
the fact that consumers don't seem to care about the developer angst and
Few are likely worried about it even if they would
acknowledge that Apple's App Store has both more application choices than the
Android Market, and is easier to navigate. Apple has 350,000-plus apps compared
to 150,000 in the Android Market.
Power found in his poll that iOS continues to lead the
charge in application visibility. Android developers said they were concerned
their apps were getting buried by "junk" apps.
Google sought to address the Android visibility issue by
refurbishing the Android Market client and building the
Android Market Webstore
, which lets users buy apps from their computer and
install them to their phone via the cloud.
iOS also paces the market in helping developers to get
paid by a wide margin, beating Android, Research In Motion's BlackBerry and
Microsoft Windows Phone 7. Some 74 percent of those polled by Power ranked iOS
a 1 or a 2 when it come to getting paid.
in-app billing last week to improve revenue generation options for its
developers, but Apple iOS programmers have racked up $3 billion in revenues since the App Store launch in 2008.
Ultimately, over 60 percent of respondents listed the
long-term outlook for Apple and Android as "excellent," with Research
in Motion's Blackberry and Microsoft Windows Phone 7 below 10 percent.