Mar, 24 2012

I hate studies. No, not that stuff I do at college (though I absolutely hate that too), but rather the alternative dictionary meaning, “ to investigate or examine, as by observation, research, etc.”

I understand that hate is a very powerful word, and I admit that systematic analysis of data can be a very powerful tool, but the unfortunate issue is that more often than not, the “studies” that gain mainstream attention always, always have a company with something to gain funding it. That’s the reason every other news channel you’ll see shouts out that they’re the “Number 1 News Channel in <put your location here>.”

The latest “study” that has ticked me off was conducted jointly by IDC and Appcelerator. You might know IDC as the well respected brand when it comes to such researches, you might not have heard of Appcelerator.

They’re the guys behind the cross-platform development platform Titanium. And according to them,

78.6% of developers were interested in creating apps for Android smartphones during the first quarter of 2012, down from the 83.3% in Q4 of 2011 and down from around 87% in Q1 of 2011.

Now, you might be wondering why Appcelerator would want to show interest in Android development as waning. The reason is that HTML5 has been highlighted a lot, and HTML5 is the foundation for most of the cross-platform tools, including Titanium. The key mention for HTML5 is “78% of app developers surveyed say they will integrate HTML5 in their apps this year.”

The reason given for the decrease in interest? No prizes for guessing: fragmentation. While I do agree that developing on Android comes with its fair share of challenges, there are some fabulous advantages that come with the platform that others cannot offer.

Additionally, former Gartner analyst Mike King and now Appcelerator’s principle mobile strategist, has been quoted as saying developers are lukewarm on Ice Cream Sandwich. And that, by far, is by far the most laughable excerpt of the entire piece.

Every developer I’ve spoken to absolutely loves ICS. Which developer won’t love an OS that allows them to create an app that is optimized for a tablet and a phone, and hell, possibly even a TV, with one single package?

And let’s remember firstly, a developer using HTML5 will face way more fragmentation issues than one developing native, especially when you take into account targeting tablets as well as phones. As I’ve stated in another article before, I have spent the last half year doing some web development and I now find Android development to be a vacation.

Unfortunately, the numbers produced after surveying 2100 developers, which is less than 40% of the expected attendees of the upcoming Google I/O event, have been thrown about as “another sign of weakness” for the Android platform. Just google “Android development news” and you’ll see a herd of sheep reporting on the survey, having eaten up the propaganda.

I wish I had the numbers to back up my arguments, but I just don’t have the resources to accomplish something like that. I did, however, take a survey when I helped kick start a mobile development group in my college, and from about 150 responses, only two individuals showed no interest in developing for Android.

I do accept that certain socioeconomic reasons play a major factor in the overwhelming level of interest Android generates in India, where I live. However, I just don’t see why developer interest would decrease in a platform that could potentially reach a point where a million new devices are being activated each day some time this year.

As we’ve seen in the Mac vs PC fight, developers do go where the numbers are. They’d be foolish not to.