Appcelerator have an interesting IDC Q3 Mobile Developer Report based on a survey of 5500 developers. Here are the key findings with my personal thoughts in italic.
- Mobile developers believe that a mobile-first startup could disrupt Facebook. Facebook obviously made a mess of mobile in their first iteration. I see this less as an opportunity to displace Facebook but more of a learning that other companies need to better think through what they are doing in mobile. If you take a wrong turn then you waste money and your competitors have an opportunity to catch up.
- By 2015 developers will be building mobile applications for more than smartphones and tablets. Televisions, connected cars, game consoles, Google Glass, and foldable screens all ranked high on the list of form factors for 2015. I agree, the next phase is all about creating experiences that span multiple platforms. This brings with it new design considerations and causes some old design assumptions to have to be modified. I will be speaking more about this at the next MEX.
- Mobile developers are disappointed with nearly every aspect of HTML5. I am not surprised. Those who read my blog will know I am not a great fan of HTML5 based apps. HTML5 is actually good for some kinds of project but you have to carefully assess whether it’s up to the job at the start of the project rather than blindly follow the hype.
- Apple continues to reign as the platform of choice for developers. Android development declines for a fourth quarter. Apple is where all the revenue is. However, those companies not seeking direct revenue from apps are missing out if they don’t give equal weight to Android.
- RIM declines to all-time low, providing an opportunity for others. The only new apps that need to consider these older legacy platforms are those that need the widest reach to the ‘installed base’ today. This installed base is still large even though iOS and Android are prevailing sales-wise.
- Developers remain excited about Storage as a Service and Backend as a Service, specifically citing the capabilities for applications and data to move across different devices and for secure access to information from anywhere at any time. That’s ok but will these services and providers be around in a few years time? Also, do you really want to make your app/service dependant on the reliability and security of 3rd party services? Do the services really scale? My experience is that they don’t and you still need to shard your data. It’s not a one case fits all for all projects and needs careful assessment of the above and other factors.
- Developers are optimistic around the potential for Microsoft’s Windows 8 desktop, tablet, smartphone platform and its promised ability to develop applications that can scale across these three form factors. With developers taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, I can’t yet see how Microsoft is going to get any traction in the mobile space.