Cross-platform mobile dev, tablets, Windows Phone and BlackBerry

It’s hard to get away from mobile development. Yes, not every organization is building apps for mobile devices. Yes, only a small number of developers within a typical organization are likely focused on mobility. The others are doing stuff like websites, databases, desktop apps, server apps, integration…

That said, mobile development trends are fascinating, and not only because many of us not only use mobile devices ourselves, but because in many businesses, the subject keeps coming up. Over and over again.

I’d like to share a few data points from Evans Data Corp., an analyst firm that covers mobile development. Below are some abridged quotes from recent documents from Evans:

The vast majority of mobile developers are hedging their bets in the mobile ecosphere by designing at least some of their apps to target multiple platforms according to a survey of over 400 mobile developers conducted by Evans Data Corp. 

The new survey shows 94% design at least some of their apps to run on multiple platforms, though only 13.5% target all of their apps for multiple platforms.  The largest plurality, 58%, design from 1 to 50% of their apps to run on multiple platforms.

Mobile developers are overwhelmingly embracing the tablet form factor according to Evans Data’s Mobile Development Survey, a worldwide survey of developers who target mobile devices.  Seventy-three percent said they either are currently writing apps for mobile devices (34.7%) or plan to within six months time (38.7%). Only 8% said they had no plans at all to write apps for tablets, with the rest planning to begin sometime after six months.

The independent syndicated survey of over 400 mobile software developers found significantly higher numbers of developers in North America planning to target tablets within the next six months than mobile developers in the APAC or EMEA regions.  Android tablets were cited most frequently as the type of tablet that would be targeted, with Samsung as the preferred Android device type.

In North America 35% of mobile developers are currently targeting tablets, but an additional 46% plan to within six months.  The APAC region is second in adoption with 37% currently targeting tablets and an additional 37% planning to within 6 months.  The EMEA region trails.

Regarding specific platforms: On Thursday, Oct. 18, I visited the Microsoft Store at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif. There was a big display of Windows Phone 7.5, featuring the Nokia Lumia 900. It was a sad display; the phones were discounted down to $49.95, if someone signing up for a two-year contract with a carrier. (Non-US readers: That’s the common deal for smartphone in the United States.) Why the heck would anyone do that, when the Windows Phone 8 devices, including the superior Nokia Lumia 920, will be out in only a few weeks?

The store manager admitted that they’re not selling many phones.

And what about the BlackBerry? The talk of the town is an article published by the New York Times on Monday, Oct. 15, “The BlackBerry as Black Sheep.” The story is light on data and heavy on anecdote, but it seems fundamentally accurate to me.

The folks at Research in Motion disagree, though. Read the rebuttal by Thorsten Heins, president of RIM.

What do you think of the smartphone and tablet market?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
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