The future looks brighter for Google's Android mobile operating system than for Apple's iOS, believe the majority of mobile application developers surveyed by software maker Appcelerator and researcher IDC.
Some 58.6 percent of 2,363 developers polled in September said they think Android's long-term outlook is brighter than iOS, compared with 34.9 percent who rank iOS's future prospects greater than Android's.
Those numbers show a 10-point widening of the gulf from June. Just three months ago, Appcelerator conducted the same survey and found that 54 percent of mobile developers said Android's outlook was brightest, versus 40.4 percent who said iOS would dominate.
It is a titillating conversation, thanks to the growing rivalry between Apple, which is trying to catch Research in Motion in the U.S. smartphone market, and Google, whose Android platform gobbled share this quarter to come within striking distance of iOS.
Several successful Android smartphones have launched since June, including the Motorola Droid X, Motorola Droid 2, and the Samsung Galaxy S line, though Appcelerator noted that developers surveyed cited "Android's strategic advantage with developers in embedded devices, especially in emerging areas like connected TV."
Specifically, 72 percent of developers believe Android "is best positioned to power a large number and variety of connected devices in the future," compared with 25 percent for iOS.
It's important to note than Android is open source, allowing any vendor to build systems and devices with it. IOS's exposure to the market is limited as a proprietary technology on which only Apple can build.
Still, the developers' outlook expresses confidence in services and devices that haven't even come to market yet. Google TV-the connected TV service that marries Web surfing and channel surfing-hasn't launched yet.
Expected next month from Sony and Logitech, Google TV is the search engine's answer to Apple TV, Roku, Boxee and other services that haven't particularly caught on.
Apple TV was just streamlined, so that should make for some interesting sales opportunities, but developers apparently feel Google TV has the edge. Some 44 percent of developers said they were "very interested" in developing for Google TV versus 40 percent who said they prefer to build apps for Apple TV.
Android is also popping up on several media tablets to challenge Apple's iPad.
"At 62 percent expressing strong interest, Android has similar enthusiasm to the iPad at an analogous point in time [last January pegged iPad at 58 percent]," Appcelerator said. "This is great news for Android tablet device OEMs."
The Dell Streak hybrid device is available now, with more tablets from Dell forthcoming. Archos is making Android tablet devices. Samsung's Galaxy Tab is coming soon. Others, such as Dell Sharp and Motorola, are planning Android tablets for later this year and early 2011.
Of course, there are areas that developers acknowledge Apple and iOS lead, particularly regarding the important detail of earning money.
Appcelerator found that the iPhone continues to lead overall developer sentiment-whatever that means-with 91 percent saying they are very interested in writing apps for that smartphone compared with 82 percent for Android phones.