The Developer Economics 2013 report—a sort of State of the Union on app development—is out and it's packed with helpful tidbits, both for armchair analysts and programmers trying to make some sense out of this crazy software world. One of the most interesting observations the survey showed is there is still demand for a third platform. And right now they're getting it in a surprising place: on Blackberries.


Above is the graph of OSes that developers list as their "main" platform. That is not to say that any of them code exclusively for them, just that it is the primary target for attention. Very surprisingly, Blackberry lands in the number three spot behind Android, just six points below. Which is crazy given that Android itself is only four points below iOS. Windows Phone is in a distant fourth with only 27%, eleven points behind BB.

Couple that with the intention of developers to write for Windows Phone (47%) and BB10 (15%) and you get the sense that a third platform could really stand a chance. Let's face it, the old Blackberry is on its way out and BB10 is RIM's last ditch effort to stay in this game. Whether it will succeed or not is yet to be seen, but one way or another there is plenty of room in the race for a third horse. If anyone asks you if programmers really want to support three entirely separate OSes, the answer looks to be 'Yes.'


Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, developers aren't just keen on working on multiple platforms, they're also gaining awareness and enthusiasm for tablets. According to the report, 96% of Android devs write for phones, and 64% for tablets as well. This compares rather nicely to the iOS split which has 95% for phones and 76% for tablets. We still have a ways to go, but given what the app landscape was like when the Xoom and original Galaxy Tab 10.1 ruled the space, this is a hugely comforting notion.


If there's one platform that isn't doing so hot, though, it's HTML5. While it certainly gets plenty of attention, (50% of devs use HTML5 vs 56% iOS and 72% Android), there were a lot of major criticisms on how it can improve, including getting access to the latest APIs, a better coding environment and devices that are built to fully take advantage of the platform.

There is a lot about HTML5 that developers want to take seriously—not the least of which is code portability—but unfortunately, the state of the platform is that while people want to use it, it's just not there yet. See also: Facebook's old app.

Oh, and one other thing. If you're not submitting apps to Android or iOS, you're missing out. The report reflects that developers that do not develop for one of the two generate about half the revenue of those that do. We can bicker and argue 'til day's end about which OS makes more money, but for the moment it's better within the two towers than it is without. Which is more than can be said for Frodo. Poor GPS-less sap.

The entire report is out now and definitely worth a read if you're trying to decide which platform to develop for, or just curious about what the app universe is like these days.

Source: Vision Mobile

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    I think it's safe to say that a lot of the BB10 numbers are somewhat synthetic. Note, I'm saying this approximately 36 hours after submitting an app for BB10. RIM has been offering a lot of promotions to encourage developers to push apps onto that platform and give it any chance of survival. Under an NDA, I can't really detail everything, but the condition of the platform doesn't seem ready for launch. There's promise in the design and UI, but I'm pretty sure they are really ready for launch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/contest.chris Contest Chris

      "but I'm pretty sure they are really ready for launch."

      I doubt that's what you meant...

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        Thanks, fixed.

        Drawback of typing while tired, a few of those typos slip through.

  • br_hermon

    How much development really takes place for BB though? Didn't they just hold a "port-athon" inviting android devs to port their apps to BB. I'm not well versed on the issue but doesn't BB heavily use the same source as Android? Linux based? From what I understand it's pretty easy to go from one to the other.

    If all that's true, then it seems to me there aren't many people necessarily developing for BB as much as they are porting to it from previous work.

    • defred34

      And what have you to say about the endless deluge od devs porting over their work from iOS? If you look at it that way, 70% develop for iOS, 20% for Android, 8% for BB and 2% others.

      • br_hermon

        True, however there is a solid and exclusive dev community for Android, where as all I've ever heard about BB lately is Android apps running on BB.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          I was at two of RIM's developer conferences last year (the timing worked out and I didn't have to pay for tickets). Trust me, there are exclusive (or at least focussed) BB developers...but meeting them felt like meeting the Amish..you feel like you just stepped into the Twilight Zone. :)

      • Spencer Benterud

        I dev Android Exclusive right now. We recently switched over to Game Maker Studio so now we can dev faster and for all platforms including PC.


    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      Not even remotely the same code base. BB10 (and Playbook OS, which will soon be updated to BB10) is based on QNX, which is an embedded-centric franken-Unix OS which is heavily focussed on mission-critical processing (meaning that it prioritizes processes very differently). Even the architecture of QNX breaks most Unix traditions.

      You are right about it being easy to port from Android to BB10 (and Playbook OS), because they built what is basically an emulator/runtime layer based on Dalvik. It supports about 90% of the Android OS, with the actual Android-specific parts unavailable, like widgets and notification shade items.

      To be fair, it's not even really porting, it's just doing a basic conversion on the apk file to make it compatible with BB10. I definitely wouldn't call it "developing for BB", and neither does RIM. In all of RIM's developer promotions, they make a clearly defined point that Android is Android and everything else is "native", and the two NEVER overlap.

      • br_hermon

        Great comment! Didn't know all that so I learned something new today :) Thanks!

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          Of course, I'm happy to talk about this stuff. I spend most of my time either developing for mobile or learning about what's happening in mobile, so I love to write/talk about it.

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    Game developers will support whatever platform Unity runs on.

    • http://twitter.com/ElimentalD Ed Limental

      Do not be so quick to exclude other engines like say Unreal.

  • Samvith V Rao

    I love articles like these! Thanks guys!

  • Sean Lumly

    I'm pretty sure there are no iOS PCs, or netbooks yet 11% of iOS developers are developing for them (2nd graph)... That statistic alone makes these numbers dubious... They probably are including OSX statistics, but this seems very sloppy.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      "% of developers developing for each screen, by main platform"

      This does not indicate that they exclusively code for iOS, but that it is their primary platform. For example, a service like this: https://donenotdone.com may claim that iOS is their primary platform, but they also have a desktop component. Come on, man. Do you really think they just made numbers up and thought no one would notice that there are no iOS PCs?

      • Sean Lumly

        Thanks for the clarification. That makes much more sense!

  • http://www.androider.de/ Johannes “Jojo” Siemers

    In the second graphic: 28 % for Windows Phone Tablets. Does that make any sense?

    • Freak4Dell

      I'm assuming they mean Windows 8 tablets.

  • smeddy

    There's a balance between having two few platforms (see: monopoly; dictatorship; lack of choice) and too many (see dev resources spread to thinly; support resources spread too thinly; confusion in the marketplace).

    Better to have three major platforms, than two major ones and 10 smaller ones. Then the third mops up most of the rest.

    10 eco-systems... Well, survival of the fittest would win out, and it would naturally reduce itself.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      So, what you're saying is Ubuntu is going to fail? :)

      I agree, 3 is the number that will survive this war...and that means Windows Phone and BB10 have to duke it out to survive. BB10 has a better interface (and platform) and RIM's desperate need to survive. Windows Phone has integration with more services and seemingly unlimited money with Microsoft's insistance that they won't fail. It's going to be a hell of a fight for 3rd place :) [grabbing popcorn]

      Or...they could tear down iOS and make everybody happy

  • master94

    Makes sense to develop for BB. RIM is paying devs 10k to do so. I for one have already received my pay day and have listed BB as top priority for me as have other devs I know.Expect the BB number to go down after the 10,000 dollar guarantee finishes.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      You obviously are making up the part about having already collected. The "$10k Promise" won't pay out for a year. In addition, RIM never pays $10,000, they only make sure qualifying developers are paid up to $10,000 on an app *if* the app has already reached at least 100 downloads and $1,000 in income (after RIM's cut), and it only works for "native" apps, not Android ports.

      I wouldn't call $10,000 a worthwhile venture for most developers. It's nice for college students or after-hours developers who want to make a few extra bucks with a side project or an indie game developer who is thinking of porting a game over. However, it's still just an insurance policy if your app fails (or RIM fails first).

      • master94

        Actually your talking about the new BB challenge. Im talking about the one that happened during the playbook's release. And yeah its worth wild for me, since I am a hobby dev

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          My apologies, I missed that one (I can't even find it by Googling). Even if I had known about it, the comment at the end of the first post makes it look like you were talking about the current $10k offer.

          You're kinda backing up what I was saying. $10k is a nice amount, I'd like to have somebody hand that to me; but a one-time payment to a full-time developer isn't going to pay the bills...not enough to make BB10 a primary focus for development, it's enough to make it worthwhile for developers to also develop for BB10.

          • master94

            No problem. Your right I should have been more clear.

      • megabob10

        i think he is talking about the playbook challenge. I remember seeing a dev called master94 on my old playbook

  • megabob10

    More competition is always good

  • Spencer Benterud

    I develop Games solely for Android at the moment.....Interesting statistic for And Devs regarding the tablets.....I have yet to optimize any of my apps for tablets because i have never actually met anyone who owns an Android tablet. Ive never actually seen one outside of a store let alone a person using one. But yet people walk through the mall using iPads.......You can check out my apps at the link below....I think Space Control would work well for tablets.

    Spencer Benterud