Many iOS developers expanding to Android

by Phil Hornshaw

A small survey of iOS developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco shows that many are developing for both Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) mobile platforms, though developers seem to like working on iOS a lot more.

A story from Pocket Gamer hit on the yearly WWDC Developer Survey Summary from industry analyst Piper Jaffray, which nabbed responses from 47 developers at the conference last week. Of those surveyed, 47 percent said they develop their apps for both iOS and Google’s Android. While that’s admittedly a very small sample, it still seems to indicate that quite a few developers are expanding beyond the walls of the iTunes App Store to check the waters in Android’s pool.

Meanwhile, back in July 2010, AppStoreHQ found that only 3 percent of App Store developers had also developed for Android; and while Piper Jaffray’s information is limited to just a few developers, the number suggest developing for the platform is on the rise, and that competition for apps among all app developers and platforms is increasing. And competition means more cool apps as developers fight to make money through innovation.

The Piper Jaffray survey also finds that among iOS developers, Android is the platform that leads among developers. Next up is RIM’s (RIMM) Blackberry with 37 percent of the surveyed developers; then 13 percent working on Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Phone 7; 7 percent on webOS; and 4 percent on Nokia’s (NOK) Symbian.

Meanwhile, on the other side, a new system is making it easier for Android developers to jump the tracks over to iOS.

An Engadget story deals with a new open source project called “in-the-box,” which is meant to allow Android apps to run on iOS and provide a quick path for Android developers to submit apps to the iTunes App Store. It works by providing developers a piece of technology to build into their apps to interact with a piece of Android tech brought to iOS.

It’s called the Dalvik Virtual Machine, and it’s a software emulator that also allows the BlackBerry Playbook tab to run Android apps. Bringing Dalvik over to iOS will provide the same service, allowing iOS devices to fake being Android devices in order to run their apps.

According to the Engadget story, Android developers run the risk of getting bounced from the App Store, especially if Apple isn’t down with the whole “Android emulator” thing. But it’s still cool to see a new means of allowing developers to cross-pollinate both platforms and let apps square off one another. And like we said above – competition is good because it can lead to lots more cool apps in the long haul.