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Developer Perception on Mobile Platforms Survey Results

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Vision Mobile has published the Mobile Developer Economics 2010 and Beyond report, containing the results of a survey across +400 developers working on the most important eight mobile platforms. The survey shows what platform the developers prefer, what is the installed base and number of apps per platform, time needed to learn and debug on a platform, and others.

The declared purpose of survey was to identify developers’ perception regarding eight major mobile platforms - Android, iOS (iPhone), BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Phone, Flash/Flash Lite, Java ME and mobile web (WAP/XHTML/CSS/JavaScript) – and to measure the developers’ experience writing applications for four of those platforms - iOS/iPhone, Symbian, Android, Java ME.

A summary of the survey’s findings contains:

Targeting a platform. Most application developers (75%)  choose a platform based on market penetration rather than platform’s capabilities, API, or development environment.

Multiple platforms. Most mobile developers write apps for multiple platforms, an average of 2.8 platforms/developer. 20% of the respondents target both iPhone and Android with the same application.

Mindshare migration. There is a significant mindshare migration away from platforms like Symbian, Windows, and Java ME. 20-25% of Symbian developers sell their apps through Apple App Store or Android Market. 50% of Windows Phone MVP carry an iPhone and are reluctant to invest in Windows Phone in the future. The vast majority of Java ME developers no longer believe in “write once run everywhere”.

Mindshare. Android has the highest mindshare with 60% of developers recently writing an app for it, followed by iPhone, Java ME and Symbian.


Installed base and number of apps. There is a large discrepancy between the installed base of a mobile platform and the corresponding applications. Java ME has the largest installed base (3 billions) but a relatively small number of apps (45,000), while iPhone has an installed base of about 60 millions, but 225,000 apps.


Using an app store. While iPhone and Android make heavily use of an app store, only 5% of Java ME and 10% of Windows Phone developers sell their apps through an app store.

Certification. The certification costs represent the main complaint related to selling apps through a store.

Revenue. Despite the hype, only 5% of the developers report a revenue higher than expected. 60% of the iPhone devs have not reached their targeted revenue.

Revenue models. The primary revenue model is pay-per-download via an app store, while selling ads is way behind in terms of revenue. The subscription model usually works when the app is sold through a phone operator or content aggregator portal.

Operators. 80% of the developers think that operators should be simply data providers, and the vast majority has no interest in supporting a specific operator. 70% of the developers consider that there is no developer support from operators.

Learning Curve. The platforms have different learning curves: Android has the shortest with 6 months, while Symbian has the longest with 15 months.


Debugging. Debugging is fastest on Android and more than two times slower on Symbian.


Support. More than 80% of the mobile developers rely on community or unofficial forum websites support.

Open Source. According to the survey,

On average, 86 percent of respondents who use open source at work use it within development tools such as Eclipse.The exceptions are iPhone and Windows Phone developers, who are less heavy users of open source development tools. Another popular use of open source is within shipping products (almost 40 percent of respondents). It’s worth pointing out that BlackBerry developers are by far the least active users of open source within shipping products, which indicates a commercial skepticism – one RIM will have to overcome as it gradually adopts open source software within its devices starting with WebKit.

Overall, developer involvement in open source correlates highly with background. Android and iPhone developers are three times more likely to lead open source communities compared to Symbian developers. This reveals the contrasting pedigree of the two developer communities; iPhone and Android developers originate from the Internet domain where open source has existed for more than 10 years, while Symbian developers come from the mobile domain, where open source is relatively new.

Vision Mobile’s report contains detailed information on the survey methodology used, the developer distribution across different mobile platforms, the benchmark methodology, and results on topics like: the migration between mobile platforms, time-to-market, marketing channels used, technical reasons for selecting a platform, difficulties in mobile development, IDEs, etc.


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