Developer’s Losing Interest in Android?

It’s no real secret that Google’s Android platform has been underperforming when it comes to apps. Yes, Android currently reigns as the most widely used mobile platform, but its apps have failed to reach the level of success that competitor Apple has achieved for various reasons. While Google’s app efforts aren’t completely underwater as of yet, recent surveys show that it is losing the favor of developers over time.

Research firm IDC and Appcelerator, a mobile development platform vendor, recently released the results of a study where they surveyed over 2,100 app developers to get their opinions on mobile platforms and development.  Of the survey’s participants, 78.6 percent showed interest in developing apps for Android smartphones during the first quarter of 2012.  Although that number is rather high, it’s a decrease from the 83.3 percent who said they would participate in Android development in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the 87 percent surveyed during the first quarter of 2011.

Mike King, Appcelerator’s principal mobile strategist and a former analyst with Gartner, described the reasoning behind the waning interest in Android: “Massive platform fragmentation is a big reason that we’re seeing this decline in interest.  If you look at all the other numbers such as Android smartphone market share it’s on the upswing, but for app developers it’s a real challenge.”

Despite Android’s declining popularity among developers, it still remains highly competitive when compared to other platforms.  The only platform that has it beat is Apple’s iOS, which received interest from 89 percent of the recently surveyed developers.  Microsoft still lags behind the competition, but the study did show that developer interest is growing for its Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 tablet devices.  Approximately 37 percent of the developers said they had interest in developing apps for Microsoft’s mobile platforms.  Falling by the wayside in a major way is Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS.  Its developer interest for the first quarter of 2012 came in at just 15.5 percent, a decrease from the 20.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 37 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

For Android to regain its popularity among app developers, its fragmentation issues must be addressed.  Google will have to simplify things by unifying Android devices under the same version of its operating system.  The company did take a step in the right direction with its release of Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.  The OS was the first for Android to be optimized for tablets and smartphones.  Still, King noted that developers have remained cautious when it comes to the new OS.  “They’re somewhat lukewarm to Ice Cream Sandwich, they’re taking a wait-and-see approach.  Whereas with Apple, they’re saying, ‘We know iOS and it’s relatively easy for us to build an application and deploy it,” said King.

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{mospagebreak title=Developers Aim for Non-irritating Advertising}

Developers Aim for Non-irritating Advertising

Mobile app developers must tread a fine line when it comes to implementing advertisements into their offerings.  On one hand, advertisements allow them to monetize their apps to make a profit.  On the other hand, advertisements deemed to be intrusive could turn off customers altogether.

The issue of app mobile app advertising was recently discussed by developers at the Mobile Madness conference.  In terms of the best strategy, most of the panelists agreed that developers must build customer loyalty first.  Building such loyalty not only comes through app downloads, but also through how useful an app is.  If customers use an app on a daily or at least weekly basis, that app is more likely to be successful in the long run.  Gaining a surge of downloads when an app is first released does not mean that it will continue to grow in popularity over time if it does not provide any valuable features to users.

Michael Putnam, VP of products for Jana, a mobile marketing firm, commented on the need for developing useful apps: “Companies usually say, ‘We have x-million downloads,’ but it really is a vanity metric and it doesn’t matter.  What you really care about is your monthly users. Across the board you see much more engagements in apps than what you see in the mobile web.”

Once a loyal user base is formed, the dilemma kicks in of how to capitalize off them even further.  The way in which advertising is implemented is crucial.  Developers must devise plans that stress the way in which advertising is delivered to ensure that customers do not lose interest or become annoyed.  Meredith Flynn-Ripley, CEO of HeyWire, a free texting app, said: “Mobile advertising does intrude on the user experience.  You really have to have a technology person focus on advertising and you have to manage those ad networks just like you would anything else.”

So, with mobile app advertising being such a touchy subject, how does an app developer go about including it in their offerings?  The conference’s panel noted that there was no guaranteed method to use advertising without potentially annoying customers.  However, Jeff Chow, CEO of app developer Spring Partners, said many companies are brainstorming on how to offer ads that actually help users instead of irritating them.  “What we’re trying to find out, is there a way that brands and consumer advertisers can help the consumer out instead of being the dancing mortgage guy on banner ads?” said Chow.

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