More app developers are going to go "Android first" over Apple's iOS this year, according to a survey by research firm Ovum. While there is a legitimate chance of this happening, we will believe it when we see it. It often seems like analysts are shooting in the dark with these types of proclamations, no matter what kind of survey data they collect.
All the corollary evidence suggests that developer interest will overtake that of iOS. More Android devices are shipped and activated across the world every day than iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone. The Android Market is growing rapidly. Analyst firms love this type of parallel data. But will reality catch up with theory?
Ovum says, "despite a clear vie for ultimate supremacy between these two platforms, almost all developers will support both." That is more along the lines of reality than saying that "Android will be the top OS for developers in 2012."
Ovum's survey data says that the top two native platforms will retain dominance in the mobile application space despite the rise of HTML5 and mobile Web-based applications. The reason for this is that the ability to monetize and reach a broader audience still comes with iOS and Android more than mobile Web apps.
Developer sentiment comes down to two specific criteria: distribution and discovery. For mobile Web apps, those are the biggest problems. There is real centralized application store for HTML5 apps. Developer firms like appMobi will focus on that problem this year but there is a long road ahead of HTML5 apps to catch up with the likes of Android and iOS. Facebook could also eventually come out with a mobile app store of sorts though the company believes that the best way to distribute apps on the its social platform is through sharing among users.
Android and iOS still provide the best means of distribution and discovery. Third party app stores like the Amazon Android Appstore, GetJar or sites run through Appstores.com can provide limited discoverability but are likely secondary options for developers after pushing to the primary distribution channels of the Apple App Store and Android Market.
"A smartphone platform's success is dictated not only by the pull of consumers and the push of handset vendors and mobile operators but also by a healthy economy of applications delivered by third-party developers," wrote Adam Leach from Ovum. Therefore, it is important for all players in the smartphone ecosystem to understand the choices developers are making today and the downstream impact of those choices."
As noted may times before, the ability for developers to monetize their efforts will be the driving factor in which platforms they will publish to. Right now, iOS leads that charge but Android is making a push to standardize app development on the platform that could help its apps perform better in terms of purchases and in-app payments.