IDC report: Kindle Fire, Surface tablets still 'struggling' to interest developers

IDC report: Kindle Fire, Surface tablets still 'struggling' to interest developers

Summary: Amazon's Kindle Fire and Microsoft's Surface tablets haven't done enough to excite enough app developers just yet, based on a new report.


While 2012 delivered a number of tablets that are starting to present some healthy competition for Apple's iPad, the majority of developers are still only interested in the top two mobile operating systems, based on a new report.

According to the Q4 2012 Mobile Developer Survey from Appcelerator, a mobile development platform provider, and the International Data Corporation, most developer interest surrounds iOS and Android -- which is largely unchanged from the previous quarterly report.

This presents a challenge (not to mention a problem) for two tablet brands, in particular, cited in the report: Amazon's Kindle Fire and Microsoft's Surface. (While the Kindle Fire is Android-based at the core, it does have its own interface on top.)

See also: Microsoft does little to protect revenues for Windows Store devs

Specifically, researchers found that less than 22 percent of mobile developers are "very interested" in building mobile apps for the Amazon Kindle, indicating that "the Kindle's install base and revenue potential are too small to entice developers to build for the platform."

As for the Surface, which was only released just recently, developer interest came in at 36 percent. Furthermore, 45 percent of mobile developers were said to have replied that they are "unimpressed by the hardware," while 35 percent replied that they think "Microsoft needs to do more to be successful."

John Jackson, research vice president for mobile and connected platforms at IDC, commented in prepared remarks about the report that it isn't "terribly surprising" that "iOS and Android remain the top targets for developers."

Nevertheless, all of this could change to some extent in 2013 thanks to mobile commerce as 93 percent of mobile developers admitted they believe it is "likely to very likely" that most retailers will have enabled mobile commerce within their companies next year.

Jackson added that the findings from the Q4 report underscore "the challenges competitors face as they try to establish their own platforms in the market," adding that we'll see "how retailers drive the mobile transformation predicted by developers in 2013."

Thus, all of this could hinge on which mobile platform providers can best respond to consumer demands for mobile commerce.

For reference, the Q4 report is based upon the results from a joint survey of nearly 3,000 mobile developers. If you're interested in perusing the entire Q4 2012 Mobile Developer Survey from the IDC and Appcelerator, you can download a copy now, but you'll have to register first.

Topics: Software Development, Android, Apps, iOS, Tablets

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  • IDC report: Kindle Fire, Surface tablets still 'struggling' to interest dev

    Just more analyst double speak. From what I'm reading interest in the Microsoft Surface is growing every day. Developers would be wise to start programming for it now and get in early otherwise face the risk of their app being lost amongst the hundreds of others that will take its place.
    • Look on the bright side!

      All of the apps you've written (with you obviously immense knowledge of Windows programming and prodigious I.T. skills) will gain so much more exposure without all that pesky competition!

      On the other hand, if even *you* can't be bothered to write at least one app for the Windows Store then what makes you think other people will?
      • It's an app wasteland

        The only company your lonely app will have is the tumbleweed that blows across the Windows store every now and then.

        There have been very few Surface sales at all. Nobody is going to make any money making RT apps. Only hurt and sadness in RT land.

        The app momentum is all with iOS to Android, with a definite move towards Android.
        • App wasteland?

          "the Windows Store's 21,000 apps is already larger than the Mac App Store's 13,000 apps despite the latter marketplace being open for close to two years now.

          A 2 year head start by Apple got wiped out in 1 month. That's humiliating.

          "for the top 300 apps on each respective Store, the Windows Store's daily download volume is three times larger than that of the Mac App Store"

          And people are actually using these apps.

          So an app wasteland? Nope, not even close. It is the Mac App Store that is a wasteland.

          OS X is doomed, doomed I tell you.
          • Reading comprehension is key, NonSequitur.

            Microsoft Surface. iOS. Android.

            Those are the topics under discussion.

            Nice attempt at changing the subject, though incredibly obvious.
          • Yes, you should learn how to do it

            When talking about developer interest, you have to take into account the fact that most programs people develop for Windows 8 in the Windows Store can also be installed on the Surface. There is clearly a TON of developer interest in developing applications for the Windows Store which is what I linked to. There is so much interest that in 1 month, developers have created THREE TIMES MORE APPLICATIONS THAN THEY DID FOR OS X. Humiliating. Completely humiliating for anyone (like you) who feels the need to constantly defend the OS X hive. It is also completely relevant to the topic at hand. Remember the topic? Developer interest? I know, I know, you have a very short attention span.

            So yes, reading comprehension is important, understanding of the topic is even more important. You clearly don't understand the topic but that's okay, I'm more than happy to educate you, again.

            By the way, I have to ask since your writing styles and levels of maturity are the same: is toddbottom6 your account?
          • A nice attempt to distract from your attempt to distract.

            But, hey, I'll feed the troll.

            Let me ask you this: If I write an app for the Win 8 desktop, can I run it on a Surface?
          • If you know what you are doing....

            Yes, you can compile for Surface desktop.
          • Can't talk about one without the other

            You can't talk about developers and the Windows Store for the Surface without talking about Windows RT and Windows 8. If you notice, in your list of Surface, iOS, and Android, 2/3 are platforms and one is a single device. Windows RT and Windows 8 share a single app platform. Thus, even if Microsoft sells zero Surfaces, there are still devices that run Windows RT and Windows 8.

            The windows store already has 30,000 apps, up from about 5,000 at launch. That's a 600% increase in about 47 days. It took a year for Google to reach that. The Windows Store is on track for 100,000 by early next year. Google Play store is currently growing at an average of 800 apps per day. Appstore is currently growing at about 600 apps per day. Windows Store is growing at 650 despite being on several orders of magnitude less devices so far. Google Play and the iOS Appstore didn't grow like that until 2 years in. I don't know how anyone can describe this store as a ghost town.

            Developers are realizing that this is a growing platform, no matter how Surface sells.
          • Re: Windows RT and Windows 8 share a single app platform

            Not true.

            Only applications written strictly to the WinRT API *might* run on both Windows 8 and Windows RT.

            There are plenty more APIs, with which Windows developers are very well familiar, that can be used to write applications for Windows 8. None of these is available in Windows RT, and thus the Surface.
          • Re: Windows RT and Windows 8 share a single app platform

            "Only applications written strictly to the WinRT API *might* run on both Windows 8 and Windows RT."

            96% of the 31k apps in the Windows 8 store are also on the Windows RT store. Since desktop apps can be in the Windows 8 store, it's hard to tell exactly how many metro apps are available for Windows 8 but not Windows RT, but the point is that most apps written for Windows 8 are being compiled as well for Windows RT.

            As for desktop apps not running on Windows RT, yeah, that's the trade-off for high battery life and thin devices. But the fact remains that developers are developing apps for Windows 8 (at a current rate of 650 apps per day), and, despite selling in lower number so far, Windows RT is directly benefiting by association. Thus the point stands that a discussion of the health of the Windows RT store/ecosystem *necessarily* involves the discussion of the health of the Windows 8 store/ecosystem.
          • Re: "the Windows Store's 21,000 apps ..."

            Is that all you've got for Windows? Android is getting close to 10✕ that.
          • Android

            doesn't have the same kind of app store.
    • wow even you not optimistic

      Only hundreds of total applications expected for window 8? I'm going to predict quite a few thousand by 2016.
      • There are already 30,000+ apps in just a month and half for most of the

        developers it is opened. Now whats your point, Android boy?
        Ram U
        • Re: There are already 30,000+ apps

          But your mate Mr Farrel above gives a figure of only 21,000.

          Time for you Dimdows fanbois to get your story straight, to avoid looking even more stupid?
          • I think we are better than you in many ways

            go figure.
            Ram U
          • The store is growing

            The 21k figure is a reference to a story from late last month which compared the Windows store to the OSX store:

            Sine then though, the store has grown. As of today, there are now over 30k apps in the store:

            There is nothing inconsistent here.
    • Must be a matter of listening to the right people

      The usual rule is:
      1. If it supports what I already believe, it must be true.
      2. If it undermines what I already believe, it must be false.
      3. If it does neither, then consider the source (Good Guys always tell the truth and Bad Guys always lie).

      Much less work than tedious research and fact checking.
      John L. Ries
  • kindle fire may have a different interface

    but it does run android apps nothing less and nothing more.... this report is a joke at least for the kindle fire!