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Is Apple becoming too old school for developers? Report claims Google, Microsoft on the upswing

by David Needle

February 14 2013

The “most relevant” company to developers today is ... Microsoft. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

But that’s only one of several surprises in Evans Data recent survey of over 450 software developers. The results did nothing to contradict the idea that venerable Microsoft appeals to an older generation of developers, but there’s more to it than that.

A whopping 90% of developers aged 46-to-50 picked Microsoft as the most relevant to their development plans, but the software giant was also cited by over two-thirds of those surveyed, across all age groups.

Coming in second was Google which also beat out 19 other companies for “Most Likely to Dominate in three years.” Evans Data said Google’s cachet was most evident among young developers with 72% of those aged 25 and under picking the search leader followed by Microsoft.

So where’s Apple is all this?

Evans Data analyst Ben Hanley said Apple was number five behind IBM “in the top ten” of relevance among the developers it surveyed, but didn’t give a lot of other detail related to its proprietary report which it sells.

“In the early iPhone domination days we saw a sort of different dynamic, but I think that time period has past. Apple didn’t rate highly across data sets in our survey, whether it was mobile, mobile and cloud or across all segments,” said Hanley. He did say Apple's strongest support came from developers 25 or under and in the oldest group surveyed, those over 60.

Longtime Silicon Valley watcher and analyst Tim Bajarin says that if this is what the research shows, he respects the work Evans Data has done but questions the conclusions.

“When we talk to the Apple developers in general, while they feel have to support Android because of the huge number of devices out there, they know they won’t make any money from it. With Apple, they know they’ll get compensated,” Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told TabTimes.

“I’m not surprised Microsoft is big with an older generation of developers, but what does that tell you? They’re sticking with a platform they’re comfortable with and hoping Microsoft hits it big. I’d be surprised if any of these developers who say they’re big on Microsoft or Android are not also supporting Apple. They have to be if they want to make any money.”

Apple pays developers billions of dollars

It’s worth noting that Apple has publicized the amount of money it pays developers via its App Store the past few years; a practice Microsoft and Google has yet to follow.

Back in June of 2010 Apple said it paid over $1 billion to developers (after two years of App Store sales, covering over five billion app downloads). Just this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple has now paid out $8 billion to developers, up $1 billion from the $7 billion payout figure Apple reported in late January.

Evans Data sees developer interests as a leading indicator of what to expect in terms of new apps and innovation. While the iPad continues to dominate the tablet market (though it’s market share lead has slipped to just under 50% according to one research firm) Hanley says the survey shows a lot of developer interest in Android and Windows 8, including Windows RT.



“Based on the survey results related to intent to develop, we expect Windows to overtake iOS in terms of the rate at which developers are targeting specific platforms over the next 9-to-18 months,” said Hanley. He also says BlackBerry is getting a lot of interest from developers keen to work with the new BlackBerry 10 OS.

Hanley concedes Android developers face the challenge of device fragmentation where there are hundred of different Android devices and multiple versions of the operating system in use. All of which makes it difficult if not impossible to write an app once and have it run across a wide range of Android devices.

But he also notes Apple poses its own developer challenges.

“There’s a significant barrier to getting apps qualified in the Apple App Store, while more developers are realizing they can get into Android’s store without having to go through fiery hoops and the process is much quicker, with better revenue potential,” said Hanley.

Apple also might be losing a bit of its hipness factor. “When it comes to Apple, I perceive there’s a feeling among younger developers, that the iPhone is what my Mom and Dad have,” said Hanley.

“The younger demographic is more hyper-individual and wants something more customizable in the interface. Android in general and Windows in particular meets that need that developers are responding to. The older generation, speaking broadly, wants a device that turns on and it works, which is Apple.” They’re less interested in customization, Hanley added. 

David Needle is Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley
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