Appcelerator: Over 90% of Developers are "Very Interested" in Building Tablet Apps

AppceleratorTalk of the Apple Tablet is in full swing as the wide world of web is in a frenzy over the upcoming Apple event tomorrow. Most of the discussion has centered around features: how will it use multi-touch? will it have a camera? what kind of OS will it run? But one thing that matters perhaps more than features is what kind of apps the tablet will have and what developers think about the product. Appcelerator, a company that provides web developers with the tools to build native mobile and desktop applications, has released a report that might give us some insight into what developers are thinking about the device.

The results are clear: Appcelerator’s 550+ developer respondents are overwhelmingly positive about the Apple Tablet. 90% of them said they were “very interested in building at least one Apple Tablet app within a year.” Furthermore, when asked about developer interest in the Apple Tablet as compared with other mobile operating systems, 58% of developers were “very interested” in developing for the platform.

Considering only the iPhone and Android were prioritized above the Tablet, that is ridiculous. The damn thing hasn’t even been officially introduced yet.

It is important to note that Appcelerator’s survey suffers from some significant survey biases. Specifically, the survey was sent out to Appcelerator’s existing customers, who are primarily web developers interested in building applications in web languages (such as Javascript) for desktop and mobile devices. CEO Jeff Haynie informed me that 46% of the developers in the survey are independent developers and 54% work in businesses. Furthermore, he shared that 52% of their developers are based in North America and that they only provided survey respondents with 48 hours to take the survey, which only augments the self-selection bias inherent to surveys.

The survey revealed that developers are treating the Apple Tablet differently from the iPhone. When asked what types of applications they are most likely to build for the tablet versus the iPhone, developers had very different priorities. While they viewed games as the most appropriate for the iPhone, respondents ranked business/productivity as the most important on the upcoming Tablet.

Another interesting find was the feature set that surveyed developers were excited about. It seems that developers are excited about features that are tablet-specific such as new multitouch gestures and the native tablet user interface.

CEO Jeff Haynie had additional insights that he shared with me. His thoughts are particularly interesting, because he interacts with hundreds of developers as part of his day-to-day job, and has a solid grasp of what his customers want. Furthermore, he interacts with Apple regularly, and though he wouldn’t confirm or deny, it’s plausible that he has some inside information about the upcoming tablet.

Jeff mentioned that the excitement around the tablet has been as big (if not bigger) as the excitement around the first iPhone launch. Additionally, though developers are thinking about Android, their mindshare and attention is still firmly in Apple’s hands. The iPhone completely dominates the market and only 12% of developers polled were “not happy” with Apple’s approval process (however, 64% were only “somewhat happy”). Symbian and Windows Mobile, despite large install bases, don’t even matter to most developers.


Regarding the tablet specifically, Jeff says that video conferencing is a big opportunity that is exciting developers. They are also interested in the education sector, and are treating the Tablet as a product distinct from the iPhone. Still, the majority of the developers (51%) believed that porting their existing iPhone apps to the Tablet is “very important.”

The rest of the survey can be found at Appcelerator’s website.