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More Developers Prefer Google's Android to Apple's iOS, Say Studies


Thanks to emerging markets, interest in Android development is surging.

Back in November of last year, Business Insider determined that there was a staggering gap in developer revenue between Android (NASDAQ:GOOG) and iOS (NASDAQ:AAPL) platforms. For every dollar that an average developer makes in revenue from an app that runs on an iPhone or iPad, an Android developer makes just $0.19 in revenue from the wide variety of Android devices. (See: Apple Developers Earn Five Times the Revenue Per Download of Android Developers.) Although both mobile platforms are relatively on par when taking app revenue, advertising, developer fees, and commerce all into account, developers have to face a drastic cut in revenue should they choose Android over iOS.

And yet, a new study from Vision Mobile shows that more developers have chosen Android as their primary application platform over iOS, Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT), and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY).

According to the data, developers on average target roughly three platforms when designing an app. However, 34.4% choose Android as a starting point, whereas 32.7% begin with Apple's mobile OS. Coming in third are open HTML5 mobile apps with 17.3% , and Windows Phone apps scrape past BlackBerry with 4.5% to the latter's 4.2%.

When it comes to tablet apps, the gap between the top two contenders is even wider. A survey conducted by Evans Data of 464 developers worldwide shows an overwhelming 84% of developers target Android tablets for app production while 62% develop for iPads. (Surprisingly, a healthy 52% of developers report designing apps for Windows tablets.)

For years, Apple's mobile OS was the de facto starting point for app developers with Android serving as a secondary, albeit increasingly necessary, platform. But given its dominating lead in market share both here and abroad, Android has become the first step for a majority of developers -- mostly for those new to the trade.

Vision Mobile determined that 40% of developers who've designed apps for less than a year chose Android as their primary platform -- only 21% started off with iOS. For developers in the trade for one to two years, both operating systems are used as primary platforms at about an even rate. However, iOS skyrockets to a 13-point lead for programmers who've developed apps between three to five years, then drops back down to Android parity for veteran developers with over six years of experience.

Researchers attribute these figures to the steeper learning curve and occasionally prohibitive costs of developing for iOS, which include a $99 developer fee and (ideally) a speedy Mac machine. The conclusion falls in line with Evans Data results that show a greater percentage of Android apps take one month or less to finish when compared to iOS and Windows Phone apps.

But ReadWrite's Matt Assay explains that emerging markets play a big role in the burgeoning interest in Android development.

"The presence of iOS developers and mobile consumers is very strong in the United States and Western Europe, and we have seen over the course of the last several years that developers in those markets are better able to monetize their apps," Assay writes. "Android performs well in these areas as well, but its reach is much more global, hitting nascent smartphone markets in regions like Asia, India, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. As more users come online with Android smartphones in emerging markets, we correspondingly see new and relevant interest in developing for Android."

It's no surprise, then, why Apple is focusing much attention on the Chinese market, but there are quite a few reasons why the success Cupertino has enjoyed domestically may not play out the same way in China. (See: Apple Inc.'s China Deal May Not Be a Slam Dunk.)

So as long as Android maintains a sizable lead in market share, developer interest could continue to shift to its favor.

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