Mobile Developers Flocking to Tablets in Wake of iPad’s Launch, Survey Shows

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developers previously had priorities that were all phone-related—they had to get their iPhone and Android apps out, and there was enough work to do there. But now you see a lot of the pieces starting to line up, in terms of the publishers lining up, the unit shipments falling into place. You also see developers looking at the initial developers who took that first stab at the iPad and struck gold.They want to be fast followers.”

And the excitement isn’t just about the iPad. It’s really a broader phenomenon that extends to the whole concept of tablet-style, touch-driven mobile computers, including Android tablets.

iPad-like devices powered by Google’s open-source Android operating system have already been released by Archos and RAmos, and other companies such as Dell, Motorola, and NEC are expected to bring their own Android tablets to market later this year. While 89 percent of Appcelerator’s respondents said that Apple’s iOS platform has the best app store and commerce capabilities and 85 percent said it has biggest market for consumer and business apps, Android was the winner when Appcelerator asked which mobile operating system has “the best long-term outlook.” (54 percent chose Android, compared to 40 percent for iOS.)

“It’s a really interesting mix,” says Schwarzhoff. “Where iOS comes out strong is in e-commerce, discoverability of apps, consumer apps, business aps, and near-term outlook, while Android wins at the operating system level, the openness of the platform, and the long-term outlook.”

It’s not clear from Appcelerator’s survey what tactics developers think makers of Android devices—a notoriously fragmented group—might employ to catch up with Apple. But more than two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) said that Android’s greatest strength in the future would be its adaptability, “from tablets to e-readers to set-top boxes.”

“On the negative side,” Appcelerator’s report on the survey continued, “Apple’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness—the control of how its operating system is used and that all roads must go through the app store and ultimately Apple. Google’s downside is the risk of an open ecosystem: fragmentation and loss of control with all the permutations possible with Android.”

Schwarzhoff says the survey results, only a few highlights of which were released publicly, will help Appcelerator set its own priorities as it builds new products to help developers. “We’re going to be rolling out a lot of interesting modules that go on top of our platform, and that all comes from the survey findings,” he says. “That feedback, in such a fast growing industry, is really important.”

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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