Microsoft’s Mobile Platforms Suffer From Flagging Developer Interest

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Appcelerator, a company that supports multi-platform development, released its quarterly developer report today. The survey helps track market interest in the various platforms, tacking changing winds.

The third-quarter report details Microsoft’s difficult market position: The percentage of respondents (developers, CIOs, etc.) that are “very interested” in building apps for Microsoft’s smartphones and tablets is low. Twenty-five percent said that they were very interested in building for Microsoft’s tablets, while 26 percent expressed strong interest in building for Microsoft’s smartphone platform.

As CiteWorld reported, those numbers are down several percentage points from the start of the year. Even as its new platforms have matured, Microsoft has lost developer interest in Windows Phone and its tablet efforts.

The percentage of respondents “very interested” that Microsoft lost in the past few quarters (3 percent for smartphones, 5 percent for tablets) isn’t lethal, but it’s not moving in the right direction. Microsoft has a long history of building developer platforms. And it is utterly dedicated to making the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store bear out as bets and investments.

In a way, it doesn’t have a choice: It cannot cede the mobile market, and to play in that space it needs developer support.

Microsoft has a trick up its sleeve, however. As Tom Warren of The Verge reported earlier today, the company is working to unite its Windows and Windows Phone app stores. This is not a surprise – merely more unification of the larger Windows platform as expected – but it could be helpful. Developers want to build for big platforms. Windows 8 and Windows Phone are smaller in pieces than they are in aggregate, and so their fusion could lead to a more interesting developer pitch.

Current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently stated that his company has “almost no share” in mobile devices. That must change for Microsoft to retain any sort of relevance in the consumer world. And I think that some underestimate the importance of that slice of Microsoft’s DNA in its continued relevance in other market sectors.

A few other data points: 6 percent of developers claimed to be “very interested” in developing for BlackBerry tablets. 80 percent stated that they were as into building for the iPhone. Microsoft is stuck in the middle.

Top Image Credit: Microsoft Sweden