New Appcelerator Report shows weakening interest in Windows Phone 7 but hope for 8

In a new study just released tonight, Appcelerator and IDC surveyed 3,632 'Appcelerator Titanium' developers from May 11-18, 2012 on their plans for app development now and in the future. Though not a survey of consumer demand the data is but one piece of the bigger picture of how Windows Phone (and Android, iOS, BlackBerry and webOS) is fairing amongst developers. For that reason, it should be considered as a metric but not necessarily the only one to measure interest or future success.

The news is not very good for Windows Phone but there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the future iterations of the OS, specifically the ‘Apollo’ update coming later this year.  That's interesting as Windows Phone has been coasting on ‘hope’ for nearly two years now and developers have not yet completely abandoned it, seeing weakness in Android.

For a complete run down, head past the break…


Appcelerator/IDC 2012: 'Very interested' in developing for each platofrm

The first area deals with the potential success of a mobile OS in enterprise. Here the big winner is iOS which saw an increase from 44% to 53% in one quarter (Q3 2011 vs. Q2 2012).  Android has faltered a bit dropping form 44% to 37% in the same time frame. Meanwhile, Windows Phone has also dropped from 7% to 6% which is not good but it’s also not terrible—rather things are holding, relatively steadily. Blackberry and webOS have also seen declines. Clearly this is a result of the new “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy that many companies are now using instead of mass-deployed company phones.

33.3% of developers say that they are very interested in Windows 8 tablets which the study suggests may be a leverage point against Android. In short, this is a good number with developers being intrigued by the Metro UI (more on that below). While not a sure hit, Microsoft has a real opportunity here to work their way back to #1 in enterprise in the tablet and mobile OS arena.

The next number is the painful one:

“Developer interest in Windows Phone 7 phones dropped sharply. WP7 “very interested” levels dropped from 37.0 % in Q1 2012 to 25.0% in Q2 2012. This was not unexpected given disappointing WP7 handset sales to date and Nokia’s recently reported competitive challenges.”

As the report notes, developers have an interest in Microsoft and their OS initiatives (Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, tablets) but in light of weak sales, they remain cautious.

Developers also have a huge interest in “the cloud” for enterprise needs with 83% planning to use such services, including push notifications, social integration, and authentication.

Despite this news, we can perhaps take some solace in the fact that Android is fading quickly out of favor with developers and IT as a result of a combination of issues:

  • Fragmentation
  • Malware
  • IT managers re-evaluating potential enterprise-wide support for Android beyond simpler implementations like email access
  • The success of the iPad causing a “halo effect” for Apple products

'Metro UI' is looking good to developers

None of that is good news for Windows Phone nor Microsoft but it does show how even enterprise can quickly tire of non-effective solutions for their employees, leaving an opening for Redmond to step in with their “three screens and a cloud” vision. The report notes:

“Developers are expressing cautious optimism towards Windows 8 tablets, with 33.3% reporting that they are very interested in developing for this device class. This is an objectively strong number for a device class that is not yet commercially available. Yet Appcelerator and IDC note that the challenge for Microsoft and its OEM partners will be to sell sufficient quantities of Windows 8 tablets to translate this nascent developer interest into strong and compelling mobile app offerings through widespread developer engagement.”

What’s more, the report also points out that 43.8% of developers find Metro UI “beautiful and different” compared to iOS and Android. That’s a fairly significant number and one that Microsoft can use to leverage interest. That’s also surprising as some in the media have expressed skepticism with the Metro UI calling it “too radical” and specifically not friendly towards enterprise. In light of this survey this claim looks inaccurate.

In conclusion, while the report shines a disappointing light on the decline in developer interest in Windows Phone 7, those same developers see what Microsoft is trying to do with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and tablets. In that sense, they still have room yet to maneuver especially when combined with the substantial decline in Android being adopted in enterprise.

Interestingly, the Appcelerator/IDC results back up the earlier Flurry report on developer interest which showed Windows Phone gaining on Android too, lending credence to the findings. 

Source: Appcelerator / IDC Q2 2012 Mobile Developer Report

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Smoke by Microsoft.
  • Well Of course it would weaken. Wp8 is clearly a different thing from Wp7. It would have it's own graph
  • But you are aware the survey was done in May, *before* the June 20th Summit on Windows Phone 8 menaing developers had no idea that "WP8 is clearly a different thing from WP7", right? So how do you get to "of course..." with that data? Nothing was obvious to anyone in May on the future of WP7 and app compatiblity with WP8, let alone the kernel change.
  • I hope wp8 don't get all the apps while wp7.8 will be phased out..
  • Same, we haven't even had a quater of the proper mobile games yet and if wp8 gets them all whereas wp7.8 gets nothing I might actually explode.
  • That will happen. Every time I recommend waiting until WP8 and say that all WP7 have become obsolete people always call me a troll and say that WP7 will continue to get support.
    Yeah, right. Just like Microsoft promised about WM6 to continue to get support and be used on low-end devices.
    Everyone within their return period of a WP7 phone on contract should return it and should have the day or after the conference where WP8 was revealed. 
  • I disagree... if you like what you have now, use it until you're financially able to upgrade to WP8. Why on earth should I give up something I like for something I don't (and would have to reinvest in all my apps, configurtations, etc) just so I can wait for what I will probably want? That's just foolish.
  • Well the majority of WP users don't have the logic that you do
  • This will happen eventually but for the near future there will be millions more 7.8 users than apollo ones.  Devs would be stupid to ignore that market.
  • Agreed. I believe development will target WP7.8 with "WP8 value added features".
  • So this all comes back to strong sales being the catalyst for developer interest. Seems to make sense.
  • Developers (and by this I mean mostly the .NET community) have given Windows Phone much more than it deserves if you look at its market share. There is only this far you could go on good will then you need actual market. There are 100K apps in the market which is like 1/7 of what iPhone has. Can you say that WP has 1/7 of iOSs market share and what is more can you say that an app on WP7 will make 1/7 of the money it will make on iOS (for the same quality)?
    Clearly developer interest is much higher than general interest in the platform. If anything devs are driving the platform forward not back.
  • +1 , but consider that for a developer who use .net at work is incredibly easy to develop a quality app for WP.
    I think wp sold more on the .net developer community than ordinary people...
  • Sorry but your 1/7th number is completely pointless when you bring up marketshare/users.  A local pop, Faygo has 1/100th of the sales of Coke, yet they have 30 times more "applications" or flavors...does that mean Faygo needs to just scrap 29 of their flavors to be competitive?  No, not at all.   As a developer, your ONE app is 1/100,000th of the market on WP7, yet 1/700,000th the market on it is 7x easier to get noticed and get a sale on WP7.
  • No brainer here. With the Samsung galaxy S3 buzzing around with its commercials no wonder people look other directions than windows phone. I didn't see any windows phones get on tv ads like android phones are now. Even Nokia didn't do a good job showing off their Lumia series. And when's the last time Verizon got their only windows phone. How old is the newest windows phone available on the market? This is getting embarrassing.
  • Nokia did an amazing job getting their commercials out in a short time, which is why they were able to sell millions of their device. HTC and Samsung? Nada. Not one commercial advertising the Titan or the Focus... no wait, I do remember one Samsung Focus commercial, but it was short-lived. You're right about needing to market, but Nokia did a good job. There needs to be a lot more though.
  • Nokia has done an OK job pushing the phones. The US beta testing commercials were confusing for many from what I heard. It's a hard sell for folks who are so used to IOS or Android. Trust me I'm training my wife on the OS now after having to convert because of a broken iPhone and the questions are always the same. She does like the concepts though.
  • Time to jump ships.
  • Nope
  • Irrelevant.. Developers will target whats selling. Today business is picking up ios and android devices as there is no differentiator to make them pick upp wp7 phones. This will change and I can think of three things that will make business to start buying wp8 phones.
    • Management, wp8 will be managed just like any w8 computer by SCCM. This is very important for big businesses.
    • Side loading of apps. Businesses will be able to sideload apps without going through the Microsoft store. Great plus for sensitive businesses
    • Office is free on Windows phone. Whereas ios and android users will have to pay a monthly fee to get office. When tis cost gets clear to the management they drop ios and android fast... The pricing for office on ios and android and the connection between wp8 and SCCM is not revealed yet. But count on this to happen and the future for wp8 will look a lot more brightly.
  • I'd agree with your bullet points, except the BYOD experience at my big-business employer built on highly sensitive data indicates WP8 is still going to have an uphill climb. We already have a system in place for managing devices. Any device accessing email can be wiped remotely, and all access to anything inside the firewall is governed by the same permissions the user already has when they login at a workstation. We have a private App Store for internal apps. Apple may operate the store, but that's not an issue as all private data is pulled from our internal databases. Same with our public app, for users to access their own data. Android apps are coming soon. Management doesn't care whether employees will have to pay a monthly fee for Office, or any other app. This is BYOD, remember? Windows 8 Pro will run all our applications, but we're still rolling out Windows 7. So, Windows 8 Pro will be on BYODs only. Any Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone 8 apps will have to be done unofficially in people's spare time off the clock. W/WP8 will only get official internal support if enough users inside or outside the company demand support, which is how we ended up supporting iOS in the significant way that we do now.
  • WP8 is going to have the same "private store" concept as well as having the TPM chip and the ability to enable bit locker. I have a friend that is an admin for a fortune 100 company testing an enterprise WP8. He said that if the password is entered wrong too many times, the phone is automatically wiped. With WP8 being built on the same kernel as windows, it will enjoy the same level of protection as a company laptop.
  • I use WP7 at work and password protection is already there. My son was playing with my phone and entered incorrect password too many times. My phone was reset clean.
  • iOS has had erase after too many failed password attempts for a while now - it's a necessity, not a differentiator.
  • I'm in this situation now. My new employer leverages IOS and BlackBerry platforms for mobile. Apps and email are certificate based and secure.
  • all I want to know is if anyone besides me thinks that news like this does not bode well for us wp7.8 users.
  • What do you expect? WP8 is the successor to the platform and a very good sounding one at that.
  • The last time I read about apps for wp7 will also be used on wp8. A developer wouldn't have to recreate a whole new app, you can make an app today and it will work on wp7. Developers should be happy about that since they wouldn't have to start from scratch of they have already put in work on an app recently.