Ever since the introduction of the App Store, applications (and by extension, developers) have been key to the success of any mobile platform. While iOS and Android are home to large developer communities, Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is still struggling. According to new data, that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.

Vision Mobile’s new State of the Mobile nation study shows that the current state of the mobile development ecosystem is fairly stable. The results show Android in the lead in terms of market share, iOS most profitable for developers, and Windows Phone still waiting for acceptance.


The numbers are, for the most part, unsurprising. Android, the current leader in smartphone market share, has garnered the most developer attention, with 71 percent of mobile developers working on the platform. 57 percent are working on iOS. A scant 21% of developers are working on Windows Phone.

While most developers have a presence on Android, 59 percent of iOS developers say that Apple’s ecosystem is their primary platform, while only 49.4 percent of Android devs say the same thing.

Primary Platform

One of the reasons that may explain why Apple’s platform is primary for so many is its profitability. According to the study, iOS apps earn an average of $5200 dollars a month for their developers, 10 percent more than their Android counterparts.

But because Android is the leading platform in terms of market share, developers who need their application to reach a broad audience have to work with it, even if their primary focus is on iOS.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 9.32.39 AM

While 47 percent of developers in the first quarter of 2013 intended to adopt Windows Phone, that number has shrunk to 35 percent in Q3. What’s more, the percentage of developers actually working on Windows Phone hasn’t moved at all, which probably means that some of the developers who intended to adopt WP8 didn’t, and the number of those that did wasn’t great enough to increase the number of WP8 developers by even one percent. While numbers of developers alone can’t be reflective of a platform’s quality, it isn’t a great sign for the folks in Redmond.

If Microsoft is going to pick up new developers, they’re going to have to do something different. Vision Mobile offers this by way of advice:

Instead of competing directly with the Apple/Google duopoly, a far more effective strategy is to follow the recipe that brought down the pre-iPhone industry and installed iOS and Android at the top of the app economy: not direct, but asymmetric competition. It will take a fundamental change in the basis of competition to uproot either of these platforms from their positions.

Previously on GeekWire: New data: Samsung gaining ground on Apple in smartphone market share

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  • bountybunker

    I can’t help feeling that Windows 9 which is touted as a software that is to unify tablet and phone OS with the intel merrifield being touted as being as powerful as a core2 duo from 2010 will be the type of move to leverage windows existing software library to every Windows device. I can’t help feeling that the update cycles being able to reach every device might be one too much for Android to stay with. The incoming Windows library will also make IOS look comparatively sparse. So that game might change very quickly.

    • Guest

      Wait, where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. No doubt that by 2014 Windows Phone will eradicate both, Android and iOS. It’s going to happen folks.

      • bountybunker

        In those years there wasn’t a half decent x86 processor in mobile devices. If baytrail is competent enough in tablets then for the first time in mobile we will have a competent x86 chip in tablets in terms of performance/power. After that it will be the phone x86 to be upgraded. I think Intel is the difference this time.

  • smartphone user

    The other markets are clear superior to the windows market but as an experienced user of most markets half of the apps are useless or copycat apps (no offense to developers).

    • Ryan Parrish

      You should mean to offend the developers. It’s their fault we have 400,000 fart and calculator apps. The total number of apps on a platform is very misleading because of terrible quality, especially on Android. Most of the “developers” of smartphone apps aren’t real software developers/engineers anyway. Just look at the crap they produce. What’s more important is the number of GOOD developers and publishers on a platform, and sadly for Windows Phone, iOS and Android still dominate that list and likely will for the foreseeable future.

  • Ryan Parrish

    Instead of the AVERAGE of $5200 per month, what is the median? That’s the important statistic here. Large developers massively skew that average number. This article is mainly concerned with small to medium sized developers. The large studios hedge their bets all over the place, so nobody is really concerned about them, except their stockholders perhaps.

  • Paul M

    BB’s abandonment of the Playbook will not have inspired confidence amongst developers; it’s a shame as I own one myself and I think BB could have done OK if they’d had the confidence to keep the product alive.

  • http://www.cygnet-infotech.com/ Nilesh Talaviya

    from this post it is clear that Android is now carrying forward than iOS and covers more market share than iOS.

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