Mobile Developers Still Favor .Net and Java, But The Popularity Of Linux And Android Is Growing

Tricia Duryee
Friday, June 20, 2008; 3:00 PM

One way to look into the future to see which cell phones will be popular is by figuring out what platform developers are building applications for today. Developers tend to pick platforms that are easy to work with and present the biggest market opportunity. Likewise, if developers gravitate to particular platforms, consumers will be drawn to the same ones because they'll offer the greatest choice of applications. Today's favorites aren't surprising, according to Evans Data, which polled nearly 400 developers. The top phone manufacturer is Nokia ( NYSE: NOK), while the top platforms, are Microsoft's ( NSDQ: MSFT) .Net and Sun Microsystem's Java ME. This is interesting to note because the media is constantly writing about a handset war developing between RIM ( NSDQ: RIMM) or Mac OS, which could indeed be brewing, but on a fairly small scale when you look at these developer figures. Still, it's worth noting that Linux, Android and Mac OS are all on the rise despite the fact that they are either still coming to market, or have relatively small market share.

Here's what the survey found:

-- Leading phone manufactures:56 percent of respondents say they target Nokia devices, making it the leading handset manufacturer; Motorola ( NYSE: MOT) and Sony ( NYSE: SNE) Ericsson ( NSDQ: ERIC) followed in popularity with 33 percent and 29 percent respectively.

-- Leading platforms: Microsoft's .Net Compact Framework and Sun Microsystem's Java ME are the top two platforms targeted by wireless developers today, garnering 42 percent each.

-- Other platforms: Also ranking in the survey were Windows Mobile 6.0 (31 percent); Linux, 25 percent; Nokia Series 80 (22 percent); Symbian (20 percent); Windows Mobile 5.0 (19 percent); Java (18 percent); Palm ( NSDQ: PALM) OS (15 percent); RIM OS (14 percent); Mac OS 10 (8 percent); and Android (7 percent), according to InfoWorld.

-- On fragmentation: To be sure, one thing these figures confirm is that the market is very fragmented, but some platforms have such a large marketshare, it would be difficult for any to rise or fall through the ranks quickly. "Android is less than a year old, and interest in Mac OS for wireless only started with the iPhone, so those two platforms haven't had the same time in market as most," said John Andrews, Evan's CEO. "But both .Net Compact Framework and Java ME are very strong and well entrenched in the wireless development community, so it's hard to imagine any competing platform dislodging either of them any time soon."

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