Want to know which devices and gadgets are going to grow great guns in the coming years? Ask app developers where they're placing their bets. And though there are a dizzying array of platforms and devices out there (Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Symbian, phones, tablets, Internet-connected TV), developers seem to be increasingly focusing on just four categories: the iPhone, the iPad, Android phones, and Android tablets.
All other systems are running far behind, according to a new report. And Internet-connected TVs--once touted as the great new home for apps--seem to have all but fallen by the wayside, at least for the time being.
According to the report, by Appcelerator, which surveyed over 2,000 developers, 92% are interested in developing for the iPhone and 87% for the Android. Interest in Windows Phone 7 trailed far behind, at 36%.
About 87% of developers said they wanted to build for the iPad, and 74% for Android tablets. While there's still a 13 point gap between the two, interest in the iPad only grew three points from a similar survey three months ago, while interest in Android grew four times that much--by 12 points.
Meanwhile interest in building for connected TVs is plummeting. Interest in Google TV was 44% three months ago. Now it's 33% And interest in building for Apple TV was 40% three months ago. Now it's 30%.
Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing for Appcelerator, which creates tools for developers, said that almost all developers build first for the iPhone, then ask: "What should I build for next? The Android phone or the iPad?" The rule of thumb the company offers its clients is: If you're going for market share, build for Android phones; but if your goal is to create an enhanced user experience, go for the iPad.
Both the iPad and Android tablets are enjoying a halo effect that the BlackBerry Playbook and other tablets don't have, Schwarzhoff told Fast Company. Customers who've already used apps on an iPhone or an Android phone are inclined to believe that Apple and Android tablets will deliver just as great an experience. BlackBerry doesn't enjoy that precedent, which might explain why developers are still wary of the Playbook. Interest in the device doubled since the last time the survey was taken, but it still lags at 28%.
As for connected TVs, Schwarzhoff said developers are simply triaging. "There are only so many hours in a day," he said. "You don't want to bet on a completely new form factor. The iPad and Android tablets are known quantities."
"Tablets are the big form factor for 2011," Schwarzhoff added. "It's just going to take time for connected TVs to mature."