Apple, Google Take Mobile Battle to the Cloud: Survey

A new joint survey from Appcelerator and IDC shows that Apple and Google are taking their mobile platform battle to the cloud to harvest more developers and consumers with Google+ and iCloud.

Appcelerator, maker of a cloud platform for developers, and the IDC market research firm released results of their recent joint survey, which indicate that developers are continuing to embrace Google and Apple as they bring the mobile platform battle to the cloud.

In an interview with eWEEK, Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, said the survey results show that Google and Apple are increasingly moving the mobile battle to the cloud with Google+ and iCloud.

"The app is getting transformed from a monolithic app to a utility that is connected," Schwarzhoff said.

In the Appcelerator/IDC survey covering the third quarter of 2011, the companies polled 2,012 Appcelerator developers around the world. Appcelerator's claim to fame is its mobile cloud platform for rapidly developing native mobile, desktop, and tablet applications using web technologies. Schwarzhoff said the companies' analysis of the survey shows that Apple and Google are accelerating their lead in mobile by redefining mobile app engagement, loyalty, and cloud connectivity through their new Google+ and iCloud offerings.

Developers also indicate that they see Apple and Google gains in the consumer application space translating into significant traction in the enterprise space over time. The full report can be viewed at:

"Google and Apple are pushing mobile competition beyond OS platforms into the cloud and into social integration," said Scott Ellison, IDC's vice president of Mobile & Consumer Connected Platforms, in a statement. "This means even broader battles with major players like Amazon and Facebook, creating new competitive complexities and opportunities going forward for everyone in the mobile ecosystem."

Moreover, Appcelerator said as mobile app and platform leadership continues to coalesce around Apple and Google, both players are leveraging their strengths into the cloud in different, but compelling new ways that are likely to generate long-term value and competitive differentiation for each of their respective ecosystems. Topline findings from this quarter's report focus on how developers eye new opportunities for applications to become more social and more connected:

When asked what will impact the growth and adoption of mobile the most, Apple and Google come out on top. In order of priority:

  • Google+: 25%
  • Apple iCloud: 22%
  • Near-Field Communication: 18%
  • iOS 5 Twitter Integration: 14%
  • Android Patent Issues: 13%
  • Amazon Android Tablet Rumors: 6%
  • HP TouchPad Launch: 2%

Another point of interest in this survey is that two-thirds of the respondents said they believe Google can catch up to Facebook in social with Google+. When asked why, 68 percent of developers say that leveraging Google's assets - such as Search, YouTube, Maps, etc. -- trumps Facebook's social graph lead. And 49 percent said they think Google shows more innovation than Facebook with new Google+ features like circles, sparks, and hangouts.

While Google+ may be the future, today 83 percent of developers using social in their apps say they use or are planning to use Facebook this year. Twitter is second at 73 percent, followed closely by Google+ (when an API is released) at 72 percent, LinkedIn at 30 percent, and Foursquare at 23 percent.

When asked what social capabilities are most important in their apps, developers said that features that encourage repeat usage and offer fresh content are more important than location check-ins and photo sharing. In order of priority, developers use social for: notifications (52%), status updates (49%), login/identity (44%), messaging (38%), news (35%), location sharing (32%), photo sharing (31%), and friend requests (26%), the survey showed.

Continuing on the real-time update theme, when it comes to iOS 5 features, developers are most interested in: improved notifications (58%), iCloud (51%), integrated Twitter support (40%), reminders (36%), and iMessage (32%), Schwarzhoff said.

Meanwhile, he noted that iCloud may disrupt the mobile cloud computing space, as developers envision a tight race between Amazon and Apple. Developers who are using or planning to use cloud services over the next year see Amazon (51%), iCloud (50%), Microsoft Windows Azure (20%), VMware (20%), and Red Hat OpenShift (17%) as the top five players, according to the survey.

Apple and Google's strengths in the mobile consumer space are clearly making inroads in developer perceptions of the enterprise arena, Schwarzhoff said. When asked which platform is best positioned to win in the enterprise, respondents were evenly divided between iOS and Android at 44% each. Yet, only 7% said they believe Windows Phone has a shot, 4% for BlackBerry, and 2% for webOS.

However, Appcelerator and IDC note that enterprises are taking a more cautious approach with Android at scale due to security concerns in which case they are looking to Apple when they go beyond BlackBerry and Windows mobile deployments, Appcelerator said. In the near to medium-term, despite being equivalent from a developer perception-standpoint, Apple is leading with CIOs today when it comes to mobile deployments beyond Microsoft and RIM.

Schwarzhoff said Apple and Google appear to be in a dead heat in terms of enterprise penetration; however developer views on why or how either platform will win. The leading notion, at 30 percent, is that developers said they believe Android's market share lead will be the key driver for success in the enterprise followed by 24 percent of respondents saying that Apple's consumerization of the user experience will carry iOS into mainstream enterprise adoption.

Meanwhile, Schwarzhoff said developer platform priorities have not changed significantly from the second quarter. iPhone remains tops as 91% say they are -very interested' in developing for the device. iPad is number two at 88%, Android pulled up a couple points with Android phone interest climbing to 87% from 85% last quarter and Android Tablets rose back to Q1 levels to 74%. Appcelerator added HTML5 mobile web as a new option to rank this quarter, which comes in fifth at 66%.

And what Schwarzhoff refers to as the "second tier remains the same: Windows Phone (30%), BlackBerry phones (28%), BlackBerry Playbook (20%), HP TouchPad (18%), HP Palm Pre (12%), Symbian (7%), and MeeGo (5%) rounding out the list. The new addition of mobile web in the middle of the pack suggests developers are seeing the increasing requirement for both a mobile app and mobile website, though mobile apps trump.

Moreover, as the app continues t transform, utility, loyalty, and engagement are driving applications to become "stickier," Schwarzhoff said. With that transaction models are adapting to move away from the app store and into the application, he said.

In January, 59 percent of developers said that app store sales are the number one preferred business model, Appcelerator said. Now, that figure has dropped to 50 percent and developers see this trend continuing into 2012. At the same time, in-app purchasing has increased from 42 percent saying in January they plan to use this model to 43 percent today and 50 percent by next year, rivaling app store sales, the company said.