Midmarket platforms still mobile developers' top choices

Despite smartphone rush, most mobile developers still rely on midmarket and cross-platform development for their "bread and butter", says Ovum.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

The rush for Apple iPad underscores the rise of the iPhone OS in the smartphone arena, but Java and Web platforms remain developers' "bread and butter" mobile app platforms, according to Ovum.

Apple earlier today said international shipments of its tablet device would be delayed until the end of May due to demand in the United States. The company said 500,000 iPads were sold in the first week and is expecting demand to exceed supply for the coming weeks.

The device was initially expected to begin shipping worldwide by the end of this month.

Ovum analyst Tim Renowden said in a statement Thursday that the device's high-end components such as the processor and LCD capacitive screen would take Apple's manufacturers time to produce in significant volumes.

Renowden said the company would have to focus on meeting the strong U.S. demand, as well as preparing for preorders of the 3G version of the iPad. The current model is Wi-Fi capable only.

He added that Apple will ship an estimated 13 million iPads globally by the end of 2011.

Tony Cripps, Ovum's principal analyst said the popularity of the iPhone and iPad has proved the commercial case for developing on the iPhone OS, on which both mobile devices are based.

As a result, 81 percent of developers in a recent Ovum survey said they were developing for the iPhone platform, or had plans to do so.

According to IDC's fourth-quarter global figures for 2009, the iPhone was the third-most popular smartphone behind Nokia and Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices. Apple started selling the phone in mid-2007.

Midmarket and cross-platform still dominant
Despite the buzz around the iPhone, Cripps noted that most developers were still developing for feature phones.

He said the real "bread and butter" for developers still lies in cross-platform development on technologies such as Java, Brew and Flash.

IDC's numbers note that 54.4 million smartphones were sold in the fourth quarter of 2010, against an overall 325.3 million mobile phones, giving smartphones only 16 percent of the phone market.

Cripps said Java ME (Micro Edition) was the top-ranked platform for developers, followed by apps for mobile browsers. These environments were selected by over 80 percent of Ovum's survey respondents, he added, with Brew and Flash "not far behind".

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