Developers Hot for Amazon Kindle Fire, Windows Phone: Survey

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-11-14

Developers Hot for Amazon Kindle Fire, Windows Phone: Survey

Appcelerator and industry analyst firm IDC have announced results of a survey that shows developers are highly interested in building apps for Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, with a resurgence of interest in Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.

Appcelerator, a maker of an integrated mobile platform for rapidly developing native and HTML5 mobile Web applications, and IDC conducted a joint survey of 2,160 Appcelerator developers around the world. The survey findings show that Amazon's new Kindle Fire edged Samsung Galaxy Tab as the most popular Android tablet in North America, on par with interest for the iPad prior to its launch in April 2010 and second only to the Galaxy Tab globally with developers. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 also decisively moved ahead of Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS to become the clear No. 3 mobile operating system behind iOS and Android.

In an interview with eWEEK, Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, said when surveyed among 15 Android tablets, Amazon's low-cost, content-rich e-reader was second only to the Samsung Galaxy Tab globally in developer interest. A regional breakdown shows Amazon edging Samsung in North America for the top slot. At 49 percent of developers very interested in North America, the Kindle Fire is just 4 points less than where interest was in the iPad prior to its launch in April 2010.

"When we saw that so many Android tablet devices were being announced last year at CES, we said price would be a key factor for people to get an Android tablet," Schwarzhoff said. "And price and availability of apps are big for the Kindle Fire."

According to the survey, developers said they believe Amazon's rich content ecosystem, Appstore, target demographic and e-commerce integration are the key reasons for interest in the new Kindle Fire.

However, fragmentation of the Android platform continues to be a concern for developers. When considering Kindle Fire's potential drawbacks, fragmentation and lack of features such as camera and geo-location were the two top concerns cited by developers. 

"Amazon has shown exceptional early success in appealing to developers with the Kindle Fire, showing that price and differentiation are keys to competing in the crowded Android tablet space, rather than simply chasing the iPad market," noted Scott Ellison, vice president of Mobile & Connected Consumer Platforms at IDC, in a statement.

As the mobile industry advances, contenders are finding success by securing new footholds and partnerships to compete against Apple's dominance, Appcelerator said. Amazon announced the Kindle Fire, a smaller, cheaper Android-based tablet that leverages its large content library while Microsoft's Window's Phone 7 is building strong European developer enthusiasm thanks to its Nokia partnership, Schwarzhoff said. Developers and businesses gave high marks to these moves, which contrast sharply against BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry's QNX-based PlayBook and webOS, all of which collapsed in interest with developers this past quarter.

RIM saw developer interest in its BlackBerry OS phones drop 7 points to 21 percent and interest in its PlayBook QNX-based tablets drop 6 points to 13 percent.

Windows Phone Interest on the Rise


There is now more interest in Nokia's new Lumia Windows Phone lineup than RIM's smartphones. "The third major mobile OS after iOS and Android is now clearly Windows, driven largely by the Microsoft/Nokia partnership and underscored by the new Nokia Lumia 800," noted Ellison.

Windows Phone 7 rose 8 points to 38 of respondents saying they are "very interested" in the platform-the highest ever for Microsoft in an Appcelerator survey.

"It has everything to do with the Nokia/Microsoft partnership," Schwarzhoff said. "Our position on Windows Phone is it's more a question of when, not if, the platform will take off under this partnership."

When asked why developers are more interested in Windows Phone 7 now than a year ago, 48 percent said it is the Microsoft/Nokia partnership. Nokia also received high marks for its new Lumia Windows Phone 7 smartphone, which was announced in October. Twenty-eight percent of developers said they are "very interested" in developing for the device.  This is more than double the interest in Nokia's own Symbian and MeeGo OSes since Appcelerator began reporting mobile platform interest in January 2010.

The Appcelerator survey also showed that HTML5 continues to keep developer interest. Sixty-six percent of developers said they are very interested in building HTML5 mobile Websites, the same as last quarter.

The survey also found that iOS continues to reign as No. 1, with 91 percent of respondents saying they are "very interested" in developing for the iPhone, followed by the iPad at 88 percent. Apple continues to hold onto its No. 1 position in part due to iOS 5, which was cited as the most significant announcement this past quarter.

Also according to the survey, connected TV app development interest continues to slide. A year ago, 44 percent of developers said they were very interested in developing for Google TV. Yet, even with a second version announced in October, only 20 percent expressed the same enthusiasm for Google TV this round. Apple TV saw a smaller decline, from 40 percent a year ago to 27 percent today.

Finally, the survey showed that Android phones fell nearly 4 points to 83 percent, while tablets fell nearly 6 points to 68 percent. Appcelerator said the drop was likely due in part to renewed interest in iOS 5. Meanwhile, developers said they view Samsung, which has risen to the spot of No. 1 smartphone manufacturer, as the second most significant development of the past quarter after iOS 5.

The Appcelerator and IDC report also takes a look at the priorities companies are making with their mobile strategy and how mobile is fundamentally transforming customer relationships. The full report is available free for download here:


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