Preston Gralla

Survey finds Windows Phone 7 becoming a favorite with app developers

November 14, 2011 11:40 AM EST

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Windows Phone 7 has suddenly become a favorite with app developers, the number three platform behind iOS and Android, according to a just-released survey from Appcelerator and IDC. This is big news for Microsoft, because in mobile, where developers go, consumers generally follow.

The joint Appcelerator/IDC survey found that 38% of developers are "very interested" in developing for the smartphone platform, a leap of 8% compared to the last quarter. It's the highest interest in Windows Phone 7 that Appcelerator and IDC have found in their surveys. At 38%, Windows Phone 7 trails iOS at 91%, and Android at 83%. Blackberry, meanwhile, continued its precipitious slide, dropping 7% to 21%.

Those numbers are for smartphone OSes. For tablets, the iPad weighs in at 88%, Android tablets at 68%, and Blackberry PlayBook at 13%. No numbers were reported for Microsoft-based tablets.

Why the sudden jump for developer interest in Windows Phone 7? The deal with Nokia is clearly paying off. Here's what the survey says:

Microsoft is enjoying symbiotic success with Nokia. When asked why developers are more interested in Windows Phone 7 now than a year ago, a plurality (48%) said it was the Microsoft/Nokia partnership.
In addition Nokia's Lumia Windows Phone 7 device convinced developers that the platform has a future. The survey found:
Nokia also received high marks from its new Lumia Windows Phone 7 smartphone announcement last month, with 28% of developers saying they are 'very interested' in developing for the device. This is more than double the interest in Nokia's own Symbian and MeeGo OSes since Appcelerator began reporting mobile platform interest in January 2010.
Even though Windows Phone 7 still clearly lags behind both iOS and Android in developer interest, an 8% jump in a single quarter is a very good sign for the eventual health of the OS. Consumers remain enamoured with smartphone apps, and this is one area where Windows Phone 7 has had problems. As more developers write for Windows Phone 7, the app availability gap between it and iOS and Android will narrow.

When it comes to developer interest, I don't think that Windows Phone 7 will ever catch iOS or Android. But it doesn't need to in order to succeed. Windows Phone 7 is more task-oriented than either of those operating systems, and so doesn't need to rely as heavily on apps in order to draw in consumers. As long as it has a healthy ecosystem of apps, it should do fine.

So even though for now Windows Phone 7 sales continue to lag considably behind both iOS and Android, the new developer interest is a good sign for future sales.