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Android tablets gain traction with developers

Although Apple’s iPad remains number one in the hearts of tablet application developers, Google Android tablets are increasingly piquing programmers’ interest, according to a survey conducted earlier this month.

In a survey of 2,235 developers by IDC and tools vendor Appcelerator, 74% of respondents were “very interested’ in building applications for Android tablets, up from 62% in the previous iteration of the survey from last September. The formidable iPad attracted the interest of 87% of respondees, up 3 points from the last survey. A report based on the latest survey, entitled “Appcelerator IDC Mobile Developer Report, January 2011,” is being released Tuesday.

“The interest has spiked significantly, where Android tablets are nearing iPads in their interest level,” said Scott Schwarzhoff, Appcelerator vice president of marketing. Appcelerator sees a correlation between increased interest and the announcement of 85 Android tablets at this month’s Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Developers listed price, minimised fragmentation, and the upcoming Honeycomb software as the most crucial factors for Android tablets to succeed. Developers are expected to build applications for newspapers, rich media, entertainment, and conferencing for Android tablets, Schwarzhoff said.

One factor that does not seem to be affecting interest in the Android platform overall was Oracle’s lawsuit against Google claiming patent infringement. Almost no one was bothered by it in the last survey, and the issue was not even raised in the current survey, Schwarzhoff explained. “The common belief is that Oracle and Google will work it out,” he said.

Appcelerator polled developers on their wish list for the upcoming iPad 2; new camera capabilities, a USB connector, and an improved retina display were all cited. Also, RIM’s upcoming PlayBook tablet grew in interest from 16% of developers last September to 28 percent now.

There was good news for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 smartphone platform in Appcelerator’s survey. “Windows Phone 7 came out better than expected,” said Schwarzhoff. Interest in building for the software giant’s new platform increased to 36%, up from 28% in the previous survey.

The new figure was just 2 percentage points behind the number of developers who want to build for RIM’s far more established BlackBerry smartphone. BlackBerry had the interest of 34% of developers in the previous survey. The iPhone, however, drew the interest of 92% of developers; the figure was 91% last time around.

Appcelerator found interest in the Android Market, with 82% of developers looking at Google’s app store for distributing their applications. Thirty-seven percent were interested in the Amazon Appstore, 13% in the Verizon V Cast store, and 9% in the GetJar store.

The survey found waning enthusiasm for connected TVs compared to the September survey. Developer interest in Google TV dropped from 44% to 33%, and Apple TV decreased from 40% to 30% Schwarzoff cited a shift back to tablets as a primary reason for the diminished interest. “Tablets are the opportunity, not connected TVs,” he said.

Connected TV faces issues such as TV networks blocking content and handheld remote control devices, or remotes, with 96 buttons on them, said Schwarzhoff. “It’s not ready for prime time and developers see that,” he said.

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