Survey Results Paint Android as Technically Superior Also-Ran

Appcelerator has published the results of its most recent app developer survey. The survey--which includes responses from more than 2,700 developers--shows Android in the lead in a handful of categories, but the iPhone OS, or IOS4, is crushing all competitors in every category that counts for businesses and developers.

There are some awesome Android smartphones and Android is a capable OS, but the developer survey shows IOS with a commanding lead.
It seems eerily parallel to the Windows v. OS2, or VHS v. Betamax wars. Like OS2 and Betamax, Android seems to hold a respectable lead in certain categories that indicate it is a technically superior platform. For example, developers responding to the survey put Android ahead in "Has the most capabilities as an OS", "the most 'open' platform on the market", and "This OS has the best long-term outlook".

Those are admirable kudos. It's not too shabby being the OS with the most capabilities and the best long-term outlook. However, with the exception of the question of open platform--which nobody could suggest IOS is with a straight face--Android is only marginally ahead of IOS. The question of capabilities and long-term outlook could easily shift based on an innovative hardware or software release, or new IOS-based device platform from Apple.

Apple, on the other hand, leads in survey categories like "Has the biggest market for my consumer apps", and "Has the biggest market for my business apps", and "Offers the most 'discoverability' for my apps", and "I see the platform as being most secure". These are the survey questions that will dictate where developers are spending time creating apps, and which platform businesses are most likely to embrace.

The survey categories where Apple is in the lead show IOS crushing competitors--like 85 percent to 10 percent, or 65 percent to 11 percent. Aside from the question of most open platform, the areas where Android is leading are much narrower-- 55 percent to 39 percent for OS capabilities and 54 percent to 40 percent for best long-term outlook. Compared against each other, the Android survey results seem like a consolation prize akin to saying someone has a "nice personality" because you can't think of anything else nice to say.

The iPad has sold more than three million units in only 80 days. That means Apple sells another iPad roughly every two seconds. The iPhone 4 launches today. The pre-orders sold out and people are camped out in lines in front of stores to make sure they get one. For app developers, the clear winner is the IOS platform.

From a business perspective, IOS doesn't have the credibility in the board room that the BlackBerry platform does...yet. However, Apple has made significant strides in making the iPhone and iPad more enterprise-friendly and providing IT administrators with the tools they need to deploy and manage IOS-based devices. Android isn't there yet.

I am not suggesting that Android will suffer the same fate as OS2 and Betamax, or even that Android won't continue to grow and eventually catch up to or pass IOS. Android is a very capable mobile OS, and given the open source foundation, and hardware and carrier diversity it has some advantages over IOS.

However, based on this survey alone, it appears that Apple's IOS is clearly dominant and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page, or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com. He also tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

Subscribe to the Best of PCWorld Newsletter

Comments