back to article Mobe app makers doubt Windows 8 will be worth the hassle - poll

Programmers are still ambivalent towards Windows 8, according to a new poll, piling pressure on Microsoft to win them over before it is too late. The survey found that although developers are optimistic about Redmond's promise to ensure that code written for Windows 8 will work across desktops, tablets and smartphones, there is …

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Android is the largest platform!

"a large install base is their number-one criterion when picking a platform to write for"

Okay.

"With that in mind, Apple’s iOS for iPhone and iPad continues to be the top pick for developers - 85 and 83 per cent of those polled fancy those devices, respectively"

So they say that, and then choose the iphone platform that isn't, and has never been the largest userbase? Current stats are around near 70% for Android, and 15-20% for iphone. Apple has never had more than that. In the early years, it was far smaller - less than Windows Mobile at one time - yet still got supported most often. Before Android was number one, it was Symbian.

Indeed that's another counter example. Symbian was the number one platform until 2011, but seemed to get least software support. So where were these developers until then, claiming that large installed userbase was so important? Plus the installed userbase (rather than sales) of Symbian is still massive (I get 100 times the downloads on Symbian compared with Android, and there's still a lot of users out there) - possibly larger than the iphone userbase still. So come on, where's the Symbian support, if installed userbase is really the "number-one" criterion?

The usual argument for why iphone is catered for first is allegedly higher revenue, but that comes third.

Sorry, either the survey is nonsense/non-representative, or they're talking rubbish about their motivations. Or worse, they're seriously deluded as to what the actual market share situation is (which wouldn't surprise me, given the press reporting in the last 5 years). (If installed userbase is important, then whilst it's bad for Windows Phone - and iphone - it's good for Windows 8, surely...)

"With its reduced market share position and falling interest in the Windows phone platform, developers are unlikely to tolerate any missteps.”

I don't recall people ever making these criticisms of Apple in 2007, even though it applied then just as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Android is the largest platform!

Developers will choose the platform that makes them the most money. So iOS for paid apps and Android for ad-sponsored apps.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Android is the largest platform!

It's also worth noting that Appcelerator (co-author of survey) started on iOS, and has a very strong following of iOS devs looking to port out their existing apps to other platforms. A quick look at their website shows not one Android device, or PC - it's Macs and iPhones everywhere a computer or a phone is shown.

It's unsurprising, then, that when you survey this particular group of developers, it turns out they favour iOS.

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Re: Android is the largest platform!

As with many such polls it suffers from the lack of "do what I do, not what I say" analysis. There's a nice technical term for this but basically it's easy to ask any group of people intelligent questions and get contradictory answers. Apple provided a good development platform with excellent support and provided a huge shop window of the apps to customers happy to spend lots of money: apps quickly replace dial tones and case mods as the way to personalise and flaunt.

Microsoft should surely be able to lever the large developer base if the tools and publishing are good. Fragmentation is far less of a problem on Android than many people make out which should be both encouraging for Microsoft: the same code should indeed be able to run on WinRT and WinX86 devices and different form factors. But, because fragmentation isn't such a problem, then it is just as much an opportunity for Android developers to move to new form factors as they become available: e.g. Softmaker already has a full office suite for Android and Adobe is busy covering all its bases. The real battle will be when the first full fat Android notebooks appear.

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Re: Android is the largest platform!

> they're talking rubbish about their motivations.

You are making the mistake that you think their motivations should be based on the number of phones sold, or the total number in use, or of the revenue of those phone sales. But developers don't earn money from the sale of phones, they get it from the sales of apps, or perhaps from the usage of apps for ad-supported free ones.

Apple still leads the market in that vital area:

"""App Annie estimates that Apple’s app revenue edge over Google is 71% to 29% worldwide."""

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Re: Android is the largest platform!

"You are making the mistake that you think their motivations should be based on the number of phones sold, or the total number in use, or of the revenue of those phone sales"

No he isn't. Re-read his post. He is saying that the respondents to the survey said that size of the install base was the most important criterion to them. He's not saying what he thinks their motivations are, he's saying what they say their motivations are and pointing out a contradiction with other things they say.

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Re: Android is the largest platform!

See what h4rm0ny says - I'm just going by what the respondants themselves claimed.

The revenue claim always seemed a bit bogus to me anyway, as it doesn't explain why iphone is catered for above other platforms for even free stuff.

No, it all becomes clear now - it's most supported because many people *think* it's the most popular. Even though it isn't. And I find that rather sad.

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Anonymous Coward

BIGGEST PROBLEM

Microsoft have a habit of not updating operating systems for certain hardware, but completely rewriting the software so older devices cannot be upgraded. The uptake will be quite small at first so I suppose there will be the proverbial fart apps, beer apps, talking cat apps etc.

But to make any money, which surprisingly very few apps on any platform do anyway, it will be a complete waste of time to code for Win 8.

I expect Microsoft to open a new app development department and produce their own as no one else will.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Android is the largest platform!

You''re making the common mistake of thinking Android is a single platform. With it's huge fragmentation problems it's effectIvely not for developers. The extra effort of having to write for different screen sizes, different hardware, different Os versions and different memory profiles can cut down your target audience massively.

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Re: Android is the largest platform!

> The extra effort of having to write for different screen sizes, different hardware, different Os versions and different memory profiles

Whereas writing for WM6/WM6.5/WP7/WP8 was a complete joy with consistent languages, OS and API, and the fixed screen sizes of 320x480 and 800x480 make moving to Metro/Surface/WP8 a doddle. Oh wait ..

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Re: Android is the largest platform!

> No he isn't. Re-read his post. He is saying that the respondents to the survey said that size of the install base was the most important criterion to them. He's not saying what he thinks their motivations are, he's saying what they say their motivations are and pointing out a contradiction with other things they say.

You have misread the post, just as Mark did. He even quoted the bit he misread:

"a large install base is their number-one criterion when picking a platform to write for"

It says "A large base", not, as Mark later criticises them for "the iphone platform that isn't, and has never been the largest userbase?".

The indefinite article and the lack of comparative or superlative indicates that it only need be large, and is not required to be the largest. There is no contradiction by the developers, only in your misreading of it.

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Re: Android is the largest platform!

"No, it all becomes clear now - it's most supported because many people *think* it's the most popular. Even though it isn't. And I find that rather sad."

That's probably true and I would probably think that too if I didn't read the El Reg forums. But is it also possible that people find writing for iOS more profitable because there is less piracy than on Android? (Note this is *not* a loaded question, it's a genuine one - I don't know about piracy levels on Android).

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Piracy!?

There is none.

Ok, not quite none at all, but it's so incredibly low in the mobile app scene as to not even make the status of rounding error.

If there really is a difference in revenue between the two platforms, it might be that many androids are very cheap so those are owned by people without much money, while iPhone is/was a status symbol mostly owned by people with lots of money.

Thus the percentage of iPhone owners spending real money on apps is much greater than android owners.

However I'm not sure that the figures actually bear that out - for our paid apps, almost identical between iOS and Android: in the USA sales are about 75% iOS and falling, while in Europe they are 50/50

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Re: Piracy!?

It's not that androids are owned by people without much money, it's that iPhones/iPads are hooked up to an iTunes account that is already attached to a credit card, or regularly topped up with iTunes Gift Cards. Android phones often aren't attached to an account with a payment method, and Google gift cards aren't as ubiquitous as iTunes Gift cards.

The barrier for going from free apps to paid apps is still lower for iDevice users (because that's the way Apple designed it).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Piracy!?

Not a problem?

www.gamasutra.com/view/news/176214/The_Android_piracy_problem.php#.UG4RO71wbFo

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I think theres another problem

Apps being able to run on both mobile & desktop is a nice idea but one has to wonder: who would care about apps on the desktop which were written with lots of restraints kept in mind? In other words: which could perform much better, if written or targeted differently ?

Ok, and it has to be said, although I'm repeating things: And how many people would actually /use/ those apps on the desktop anyway? So far Win8 isn't exactly being excitingly welcomed on that platform.

...which then leaves a mobile market with a lot less market share than the competition.

Sorry but I'm not a believer this is going to work out. Even if it works technically.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I think theres another problem

I really like most aspects of Windows 8 but I don't often use the Metro Modern UI apps for much more than glancing at the live tiles to see if there is a reason to open up a web browser and check the particular news/service. The Register's Windows 8 app is a good example of this given that headlines are the only things that reliably work in that anyway (Most longer articles get cut off, feed errors etc...).

I imagine it may be more appealing to the average consumer who also owns a Win8 tablet or mobile so they can have the same app all over the place. From what I have witnessed those types of consumers aren't generally as fussy about the UI details as the technically inclined crowd.

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Re: so they can have the same app all over the place

Surely if they have an app on their phone they don't necessarily need it on the desktop since the phone will likely be sitting next to the keyboard functioning as a 2nd screen. Mine sits there showing me incoming email,gmail,tweets,IM etc while I'm doing other things on the desktop. It actually does that consumption pattern better than the PC does.

I switch to PC versions because there's a real keyboard attached OR they have much richer interfaces that make replying easier. Having the same UI on the desktop seems totally pointless. I need the same content and the same service but don't need to limit the interface to access that. I put up with an inferior UI away from the desktop because I have to, when I'm at my desktop why would I accept that?

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Re: I think theres another problem

I don't think live tiles are going to do anything on the desktop.

MS killed off Windows 7 desktop widgets as not worth the effort of fixing, and there was active desktop before that. Maybe they can bring back clippy with a new name too, just get the same people who came up with the name for Metro / Modern UI / Widnows 8 App store app / what every they are calling it this week.

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Hmmm...

"Programmers are still ambivalent towards Windows 8, according to a new poll, piling pressure on Microsoft to win them over before it is too late."

it is probably safe to say that it is now ... too late.

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Meh

Re: Hmmm...

I think that if someone is surprised that iOS-app makers are not interested in Windows 8, that someone is an idiot.,

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Re: Hmmm...

"NO ONE is interested in Windows 8"

I am.

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Meh

Re: Hmmm...

You mean Eadon is unequivocally wrong?

Wow.

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Re: Hmmm...

"You mean Eadon is unequivocally wrong? Wow."

Well, Eadon made an argument that is refuted by my very existence, so I suppose so. And whilst it is possible that the one person in the world who is interested in Win8 just happens to be present in this message thread, I think it is statistically unlikely so even in a broader figure of speech sense, the argument still falls down.

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this is a shame... and I hope the trend changes... Ive now been using win8 as my main os for a few weeks and starting to really like the live tiles, keeping me uptodate with things...

What Id like is more integration between desktop apps and metro apps... almost client server type setups - fullfat on the desktop, but the ability to poll, quick view and edit from the start screen...

as for only developing for a large userbase? well, once OEM's start shipping post nov or at the latest early new year, any member of joe public will be supplied with Win8. (yes they can install Linux or downgrade to 7 or XP, but most mainstream users wont.) so this time next year win8 will have a pretty large userbase...

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Yes I was confused by that - is the article talking about Windows Phone 8, or Windows 8?

Of course Windows RT adds to the confusion, which will start from scratch and not have existing software. But it's odd that people talk about straightforward (x86) Windows 8 as if it will have little software or will have little share, when (a) it'll have the complete back catalogue of x86 Windows software (not rewritten for "Metro", but isn't that what most people here want?), and (b) even if Windows 8 takeup isn't that great, will still be going on most of the 400 million PCs sold a year, as you say.

I saw a BBC article the other day saying that Windows 8 might not have much software, and would struggle to compete with its "ecosystem". I mean, what? The "ecosystem" is MS's biggest advantage - it's just no one called it an "ecosystem" before people started to use marketing buzzwords for a certain mobile platform.

Or maybe these people don't realise that "app" is short for application, and so think that Windows 8 doesn't have many "apps" yet. But in a world where even software developers apparently think iphone is the largest platform when it isn't, it's scary to think what ideas some people have.

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Anonymous Coward

But Windows 7 had desktop gadgets. How are live tiles any different than a square arranged Win 7 gadget? Did gadgets succeed or fail? uh?

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How are live tiles any different

The most obvious is you can't see them while running a Metro app or using desktop mode... which is why I prefer seeing my message counts on the the notification bar in Android or the start bar in Windows.

Never been able to understand why using a huge chunk of WP7/8 homescreen to show a simple count makes any sense at all. Its the homescreen - only visible while you're doing nothing and its a HUGE waste of space.

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Re: How are live tiles any different

Don't forget Active Desktop and the push channels that came out at the same time.

At the time Microsoft was going on about how live information delivered direct to your desk top would change the world of computing. But it was just one big Meh in the end.

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> it'll have the complete back catalogue of x86 Windows software

For tablets that back catalogue is of little use. Windows Slates have been available for years and only sold in a niche market because the software mostly requires a keyboard and mouse and therefore a laptop is more suitable. In fact the Surface is really a laptop that wont work on your lap because the keyboard joint is floppy.

> on most of the 400 million PCs sold a year

PC sales are not a one sided transaction. They require a seller _and_ a buyer. The sale requires that someone decides 'I want that' and puts down the money.

If in the retail store the customer sees TIFKAM and decides that is what they didn't want on their phone they may decide that they don't want that. They may buy an iPad or Galaxy instead, or buy nothing. In many cases they will already have an XP or Win7 machine which they may have replaced in a 3 year cycle, but could decide that it is 'good enough', and use the money to pay off their credit card instead.

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Anonymous Coward

Meh?

In other news, it was a very clear day over the Jordan river. Jesus is going to walk over ti Israel and tell them

'They have been very naughty boys'.

Being serious for a moment, did anyone really expect that they would be a tsuanmi like surge towards developing 'metroised' apps for this OS?

Wise developers are playing it safe and giving it a big bit of 'wait and see'.

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Re: Meh?

"Wise developers are playing it safe and giving it a big bit of 'wait and see'."

That's not very wise. This is one of those rare chances to get into a market where there isn't already a large installed base of competitors. Opportunities like this come along rarely and will never come again for iPhone and Android. We know that there will be a huge install base of Win8 devices. The majority of new computers sold will support it, the Lumia and other phones look fantastic. Even if for some reason they don't sell well, there will still be huge numbers sold. Plus the Win8 tablets. I would rather my product be one in a million selling to a market for ten million, than my product be one in twenty million selling to a market double the size. Wise developers are getting in right now to catch the wave of early adoption when people can type in Calorie Tracker and get twenty results instead of a thousand.

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Anonymous Coward

"That's not very wise"

I'd guess they are putting small amounts of investments in. To them it's not worth the large risk for a small gain (small user base).

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Re: Meh?

"Investing in a small user base is hardly wise"

Small is not the same as smaller. Analysts reported sales as being disappointing for the iPhone5 because it only sold five million in its opening three days (which is not disappointing at all, to my mind but anyway...). Look how many apps are supported by the Android market, or the slightly smaller iOS market. Even if WP8 devices never rise above 10% of Android's share (which they almost certainly will over time), that's plenty market to support a thriving app market. And then you can add in WinRT devices, Win8 environments, which are going to be large markets again and which all support the same apps. You talk a lot about "stagnant pools" and "crocs", but the facts are very promising for app developers for the Win8 ecosystem.

Elsewhere you talk about how MS deserves extinction along with its users and developers. You're hardly a neutral evaluator in this.

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a large install base is their number-one criterion when picking a platform to write for

Not the only way of thinking.

You could see a userbase of 50,000,000 as a great starting point. However their app store has over 10,000 apps with similar functionality to yours so you have to be lucky to be noticed and get any sales at all.

Then you have the smaller platform, which only has a userbase of 2,000,000 but the app store has little or no directly competing apps so you will probably see a higher number of sales.

If I were a mobile developer I know where I would be focusing my attention, at least in the short term. As Windows 8 rolls out, being first into the app store will give you great visibility on the platform and initial sales should be high. If the platform does well enough and grows then as the app store grows, being already known as the app to have will drive further sales. If the platform doesn't do well then you cut your losses and focus on the other platforms but you should have already made a profit from the initial rush of sales.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a large install base is their number-one criterion when picking a platform to write for

Are you both assuming a user base and a desire to purchase your product? Most find the larger user base = more opportunity just by numbers alone. The exception is niche markets or customers though.

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Got to agree

Visibility is everything. This year, I've had four games out on the WP7, and excluding the one that only just launched, all of them have been highlighted art least once on the marketplace - and two have even been given the main feature spot (the panorama). I seriously doubt that I could have gained that kind of exposure (and thus numbers of downloads) on Android or iOS.

Makes me wonder - if you took 10 developers for each platform - casual app/game writers, not teams or studios with budgets for content and marketing - had them make and publish a game or app, then promote it using whatever means they could obtain without expenditure, and see which platform gave the greatest number of downloads and/or returns...

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Unhappy

Re: a large install base is their number-one criterion when picking a platform to write for

While your logic should stand on it's own, unfortunately in the laws of mobile, the adoption rate (aka the user-base) also indicates the prowess and willingness of the consumer to go out and reach out, find, download and use the 'app'.

In fact, I can tell you for a fact: having seen a person follow your adage with WinPho7. It's quite the opposite of the outcome you predict.

A small platform is just that. A dead 'ecosystem' where even those who are in it are trying to claw their way out and minimize their losses by not sinking any more investments into it.

Would be cool if it wasn't the truth. I'd be laughing all the way to the bank in November followed by February with respective WinMoPhoRTDesk8 and BB10 releases.

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If only...

If only someone like Nokia could come up with a unified mobile development platform, so you could write once and compile for all sorts of different platforms/operating systems/screen sizes and resolutions/etc.

Or rather, if only Nokia hadn't dumped Qt, in no small part because Microsoft didn't want the competition for windows phone development.

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Linux

Re: If only...

"development platform, so you could write once and compile for all sorts of different platforms/operating systems/screen sizes and resolutions/etc." -- This is what Java is intended to do.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If only...

Or what Java does do AFAIK.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If only...

The problem is: which Java? - EE, SE, ME, and/or those strange mobile sub-editions that are the software-platform equivalents of tadpoles which are starting to grow legs.

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FAIL

Re: If only...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Sure, Java already does that, AFAYK. Right.

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Re: If only...

Java does do that (imperfectly, I'm told - I'm not a Java programmer). But it doesn't bring you support for all the different environments. If you look at the APIs provided for MUI apps, there's a lot of stuff in there to handle different screen sizes, resolutions, auto-laying out menus according to screen format and orientation, etc. Java might let you run something on different devices, but it's great to have APIs and support so that you write your app and the menus and layout will still work when you move between different screen sizes or even to the Desktop. Ditto for input devices. Whilst the same Java code may run on both a phone and a PC, it's great to have the API handle a lot of the work in whether someone is using a mouse or touch for example.

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Pint

If someone wants me to code for it....

Yeh!, good for them, and money in my pocket - and I get paid for the learning experience regardless of how short term it was. But, actually, not entirely sure I'd want to invest actual time/money in their 'vision' when I'd get a better return from writing standard applications for, like, real businesses.

Beer to the person @ MS who took offense at my pronunciation of OLE as oily during nineties. (I hope you are happy with your life). Oh!, and I'm still pissed off that I had to sit on the floor during the CE stuff - because 'we have overbooked' excuse.

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Stop

What it really needs

What Windows Phone 8 really, desperately needs is an Android emulator.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What it really needs

I suspect a large number of Android apps wouldn't pass Microsoft's certification process anyway.

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