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Survey finds more mobile developers prefer Android

A new survey from Vision Mobile and Bluevia finds that Android is the most popular mobile platform amongst developers, with 67 percent of mobile developers indicating they’re developing for Android in 2011—that’s an 8 percent improvement over 2010. However, Apple’s iOS was in a solid second place with 59 percent of mobile developers saying they’re targeting the platform—and that’s up 9 percent from last year. However, the real surprise in the survey might just be the number-three spot: apps developed using HTML and browser technologies specifically aimed at mobile devices. In 2010, 40 percent of mobile developers said they were making mobile Web apps; for 2011, that number has shot up to 56 percent.

Vision Mobile/Bluevia mobile developer share

Java ME managed a fourth-place finish with 46 percent (down four percent from 2010), and RIM’s BlackBerry platform finished fifth with 45 percent of developers saying they’re targeting it this year—and that’s an increase of five percent over 2010. Symbian and Windows Phone took sixth and seventh place, with 38 percent and 36 percent of developers aiming at the platforms this year—both those figures represent net declines, with Symbian off 8 percent from last year. Interesting, Flash and Flash Lite took eighth place with a 34 percent share, but that’s a big increase from 22 percent last year—even though Apple’s iOS famously eschews Adobe Flash, platforms like Android are trying to make bank on supporting the platform.

The study found developers experiment, supporting an average of 3.2 mobile platforms at the same time.

According to Vision Mobile and Bluevia, Android’s popularity rests on it being the “easiest” platform for developers’ experimentation, because Android has fewer restricted APIs, the Android Market is essentially unregulated (as opposed to the mysterious “curated” experience of Apple’s App Store), and its easier to sideload Android applications, which simplifies testing and ad-hoc distribution for beta testing.

However, things shifted then Vision Mobile and BlueVia looked at developers’ “Intentshare,” or where developers plan to invest going forward. There, Android was still out in front, but Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform captured the number two spot, apparently on the strength of its XNA and Silverlight development tools and the potential market momentum that could be achieved with its broad deal with Nokia to make Windows Phone devices. Number three in “intent” was actually Google’s Chrome OS, followed by a tie between iOS and MeeGo.

The study is based on an online survey of more than 850 mobile developers. The complete study can be downloaded here, with email registration.

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