It's pretty safe to say that so far 2011 has been the year of Android. Google's OS is now the smartphone market leader in the markets that matter, is getting a foothold in the tablet game and new devices with the OS on board are appearing on a weekly basis.
Good news all round, then? Maybe... or maybe not. New research has emerged suggesting developer enthusiasm for Android has “plateaued”, and that in fact momentum is starting to swing back towards Apple and iOS.
The last six months really have been a massive breakthrough period for Android. The number of hardware manufacturers producing Android devices has blossomed, and the public has been snapping them up like never before.
With that end user popularity to tap into, it's no surprise that the Android Market has blossomed too, leaving iOS and Android as far and away the most appealing platforms for developers to work on.
But within that ecosystem of two there are some interesting trends going on, as revealed by Appcelerator and IDC's joint Mobile Developer Report for April 2011.
The report notes that “developer momentum is shifting back toward Apple”, and has no hesitation in singling out the iPad as the reason why.
Despite Android 3.0 Honeycomb having been broadly well received, there remains a gap between the platform's potential and the reality of it running on real-world devices, a gap that doesn't exist with iOS and the iPad.
The report highlights that while 86% of iOS developers are interested in coding apps specifically for the iPad, that figure is only 71% for Honeycomb and the difference between them has actually grown in the past three months.
In terms of actual devices, only 44% said they were “very interested” in developing for the Motorola Xoom, and just 31% for the 7in-screened HTC Flyer.
What is certain, however, is that Android and iOS have a stranglehold on the market at present. Appcelerator and IDC reveal that interest in developing for Windows Phone and BlackBerry has dropped over the last three months, and 62% of all developers canvassed said that as things stand they don't see how any rival platform can catch up with the pair.