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Apple developer interest is strong, while Google faces growing challenges

While Apple continues its reign as the platform of choice for developers, Google faces growing challenges as developers lose interest in Android and closely eye the new Apple Maps, according to a new report from Appcelerator.

The Appcelerator/IDC Q3 2012 Mobile Developer Report found that developers are looking forward to using several new iOS 6 features, with 36 percent saying Apple Maps is the feature they are most looking forward to using. The interest in using Apple Maps has implications for Google and its ability to monetize iOS users.

?It shows the level of dissatisfaction with Google Maps and the opportunities that Apple Maps opens up for developers,? said Michael Kind, director of enterprise strategy at Appcelerator, Mountain View, CA.

?Google sees a tremendous amount of revenue from iOS users on Google Maps and they are going to lose all of that,? he said. ?If I am Google, I am pretty worried about.

?Google has to think about better ways to engage with developers to get them to use the whole suite of Google offerings.?

However, with intial reports that Apple Maps misses the mark, it is not clear how long it will take for Google to feel any impact.

Fragmentation an issue
Developer interest in Android was down in the third quarter, with 66 percent of developers very interested in developing for Android tablets and 76 percent for smartphones.

Interest in Android has been declining over the past four quarterly developer surveys expect for the one just prior to this one, per Appcelerator.

One of the reasons for the declining interest is fragmentation in the Android market.

?Google is not accomplishing much in terms of curtailing fragmentation,? Mr. King said. ?Ice Cream Sandwich was meant to begin curtailing fragmentation but developers are telling us that they are not seeing this.

?Also, Google is not doing a great job of bringing the value of its properties to bear, whether from an engagement or developer standpoint,? he said.

Developer interest in Apple Maps could compound the problem because if iOS apps that interface or use Google Maps, such as Yelp and Facebook, migrate to Apple's new mapping function, this leaves Google a much smaller audience for sponsored ads and information.

Apple shines
In contrast, 85 percent of developers are very interested in building apps for iOS smartphones and 83 percent are focused in iPad apps. The numbers are down slightly from the previous quarter.

Developers are also interested in developing around several new features in iOS 6, including the enhancements to Siri, which offer developers the potential to integrate voice into other mobile apps.

Passbook is another new feature with iOS6 that developers are interested in.

In terms of other platforms, 66 percent of developers are very interested in developing apps for HTML5 mobile Web, 33 percent for Windows 8 tablet, 21 percent for Windows Phone 7, 18 percent for Kindle Fire, 9 percent for BlackBerry phones and 8 percent for BlackBerry PlayBook.

?Microsoft has to deliver huge device sales and strong developer engagement for Windows 8 ? otherwise I don?t think they will get another chance,? Mr. King said.

Developers also expressed dissatisfaction with HTML5 features for apps, with 62 percent ranking their satisfaction level with the user experience for HTML5 as neutral or dissatisfied. Additionally, 72.4 percent have a similar attitude toward HTML5 performance, 83.4 percent for monetization, 75.4 percent for fragmentation, 60.3 percent for distribution control, 67.9 percent for timeliness of new updates and 81.8 percent for security.

The highest satisfaction level for HTML5 was reported by developers as it relates to cross-development capabilities.

Facebook ripe for disruption
Other key findings include that developers feel Facebook is at risk of losing market share from a mobile-first social media startup.

Appcelerator asked developers about their opinion of Facebook's mobile potential and found that 66 percent feel it is likely to very likely that a mobile-first social startup with disrupt the market for social apps on mobile devices and take market share from Facebook.

?No one would deny that Facebook is the dominant player when it comes to social,? Mr. King said. ?Our developers felt in August that Facebook was not doing enough in mobile and that HTML5, which was Facebook?s dominant mobile strategy, was not providing a satisfying experience.

?People are hoping that HTML5 is going to come in and save them from having to develop the same app over and over again but developers are saying it is not good enough,? he said.

?Other industries should take note. Mobile is far more disruptive than the Web in terms of being able to take an existing business and turn it on its head.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York