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A Survey on Mobile Development

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Web Directions conducted a survey among mobile developers enquiring about their browser and platform of choice, what OS they are currently developing for, what OS they plan to target in the future. The conclusion: iOS and Safari are in the lead, Android is catching up quickly, and Windows Phone 7 is still behind.

Web Directions, an Australian web technologies-related conference organizer, has conducted a survey on web technologies during the month of February, and has published the results on mobile development, the rest of the results being promised to come soon after. The audience of the survey consisted mainly of “our online audience of people who are interested in or have attended our conferences for web professionals, read our blogs and twitter feeds related to web technologies, and take our courses in web development technologies”, so the results of the study may not necessarily accurately reflect the reality, but they are good enough considering the size of the sampled audience, 1,500 developers, and their global spread, according to the authors.


Asked what browsers they use besides the regular one used for work on a desktop or workstation, the developers responded:

Other Browser  %
Mobile Safari 23
Android 11.79
Opera Mini 2.27
Opera Mobile 1.83
Palm 0.3
Windows Phone 7 0.15
Blackberry 0.15

For testing mobile applications, Safari maintains the lead while Android is catching up. Windows Phone 7 has modest numbers:

Test Browser %
Safari iPhone 55.12
Safari iPad 37.12
Android (Phone) 21.45
Opera Mobile 7.54
Blackberry 5.93
Opera Mini 5.49
Windows Phone 7 2.86
Android (Tablet) 2.71

The browsers used for development testing show the developers’ interest in the respective platforms.

JavaScript and HTML5

JQuery Mobile is the most used JavaScript framework for mobile development, the others are JQTouch, SenchaTouch, Zepto, and SproutCore:

JavaScript Framework %
JQuery Mobile 12.45
JQTouch 6.88
SenchaTouch 3.59
Zepto 2.05
SproutCore 0.44

23.94% of the developers reported they are using HTML5 in their applications, a significant increase from 9.13% a year ago. The most widely used HTML5 features are Geo Location and Web Storage (HTML5 is used here as a generic term including other related technologies):

Feature %
Geolocation 74.3
Web Storage 55.3
Drag and Drop 22.3
Selectors API 19.6
Websockets 19
File API 13.5
Web Workers 11.3
Indexed database 5.8
Web SQL (deprecated) 3.7

Native Applications

Regarding native applications, 17.13% said they have developed such apps, and more intend to do so in the future:

Are you considering developing native applications (using web or other technologies) in 2011?

Answer %
Possibly 49.3
Not at all 25.5
Probably 18.4
Definitely 9.8

Native apps have been developed mostly for iOS with Android coming second:

OS/Device %
iPhone 90
iPad 66.3
Android Phones 41.2
Android Tablets 11.5
Blackberry 6.7
Windows Phone 7 5.8
webOS 5.3
Playbook (Blackberry Tablet) 2
WAC 0.4

The same developers showed their interest in developing native apps for other mobile devices in the future:

OS/Device %
iPhone 72.8
iPad 71.6
Android Phones 60
Android Tablets 47
Windows Phone 7 23.9
Blackberry 16.5
webOS 15.6
Playbook (Blackberry Tablet) 10.7
WAC 0.4

Regarding the type of technologies used to develop native apps, the developers responded:

Technology %
A mixture of native and web technologies 44.8
Exclusively native technologies (Objective-​​C, Java) 39
Exclusively web technologies (with phoneGap, or similar) 27.4
Appcelerator or similar cross platform development tool 19.7

PhoneGap and Appcelerator top the list of web technologies used for native mobile applications:

Web Technology %
phoneGap 47.6
Appcelerator 26.5
Other 15.6
Adobe AIR 7.8
Apparatio 1.2
RhoMobile 1.2

The survey compares data collected in 2011 with that resulting from similar studies done between 2008-2010, showing that iOS has the lead in mobile development and developers’ preference, but Android catches up rapidly. Windows Phone 7 has a disappointing perception amongst developers, but its position is likely to get better in the future.

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