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09 Jun 12 Developers Still Favor Apple’s iOS Over Android

Application developers still favor Apple, with 69 percent of all new app development projects started during the first quarter of 2012 intended for Cupertino’s iOS mobile operating system, according to new data from mobile analytics company Flurry.

In comparison, just 31 percent of apps project starts during the same period were targeted at Google’s Android platform. While Apple has the majority of developer support, interest in Android is growing. Back in the third quarter of 2011, just 25 percent of app development projects were intended for Android, while 75 percent were built for iOS.

Apple currently has around 615,000 apps in its App Store, while Google has just over 450,000 in Google Play.

Apple’s iOS is likely more attractive to the developer community due to Apple’s dominance in the tablet market, Flurry said. With iOS, developers have to build an application just once and it can run on the iPhone and iPad, giving developers the most consumer reach for their effort.

“Not only does Apple offer a large, homogenous smartphone base for which to build software, but also when developers build for smartphones, their apps run on Apple’s iPad tablets as well,” Flurry wrote in a blog post. “That’s like getting two platforms for the price of one.”

In comparison, the Android platform poses significant development challenges.

“Android fragmentation appears to be increasing, driving up complexity and cost for developers,” Flurry said. “Further, this fragmentation is concentrated primarily in just smartphones, as there is no serious Android tablet contender to the iPad.”

In terms of consumer tablet usage, the iPad drove 88 percent of total worldwide user sessions during the first five months of the year, according to Flurry. The Galaxy Tab and Amazon Kindle Fire hold “very distant” second and third places, driving 9 and 3 percent of user sessions, respectively.

Overall, Android also drives less revenue for developers, according to Flurry. After comparing the revenue generated by top apps on iOS and Android, Flurry found that iOS generates four times more revenue per active user than Android. This means that for every $1 a developer earns on iOS, they make about $0.24 on Android.

“In short, Android delivers less gain and more pain than iOS,” Flurry said.

Earlier this year, game developer Mika Mobile made headlines after announcing it is no longer supporting Android over fragmentation challenges.

For more from Angela, follow her on Twitter @amoscaritolo.

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

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03 May 12 Android tablets slip and fall in Q1. Apple’s iPad says ha-ha!

Kindle Fire market share has tailed off considerably, according to IDC.

Kindle Fire market share has tailed off considerably, according to IDC.


tablet market showed some weakness during the first quarter, but
Apple’s iPad remained strong, according to new research from IDC.

During the first quarter of 2012, total worldwide tablet shipments hit 17.4 million, 1.2 million units less than the research firm had anticipated. And although that figure is down 38.4 percent compared to the busy holiday shopping season, it was up 120 percent over the 7.9 million tablets that shipped during the first quarter of 2011.

The main issue last quarter was weaker-than-expected performance of
Android-based tablets. IDC did not provide exact Android tablet shipments for the quarter, since its figures are preliminary. Considering 11.8 million iPads were sold during the first quarter, however, and since RIM’s PlayBook shipments were not substantial from a market-wide perspective, Android-based devices tallied several million unit shipments during the period.

“Although total Android shipments were down sharply in [the first quarter], companies such as Samsung and Lenovo are beginning to gain traction in the market with their latest generation of Android products,” IDC wrote in a statement today. “IDC expects the segment to rebound quickly as other vendors introduce new products in the second quarter and beyond.”

Still, it’s hard to see which Android vendor will be able to worry Apple. According to IDC, Apple’s market share last quarter jumped from 54.7 percent in the fourth quarter to 68 percent last quarter. Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which secured 16.8 percent market share in the fourth quarter, could only muster a 4 percent slice of the market during the first three months of 2012. Samsung had the highest market share in the Android ecosystem, followed by Amazon and Lenovo.

“Apple reasserted its dominance in the market this quarter, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop precipitously after posting big gains during the holiday buying season,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices at IDC. “Apple’s move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers. And its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well.”

Even with a sluggish first quarter, it’s hard not to be bullish on the tablet market. NPD DisplaySearch reported today that tablet shipments are set to explode in the coming years, reaching 184.2 million units next year, and jumping to 424.9 million by 2017.

“The folks in Cupertino (Apple) keep talking about how tablets will exceed notebook shipments,” DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim said today in a statement. “Well, we’re starting to see that as well.”

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30 Apr 12 Amazon’s Kindle Fire now the #1 Android tablet

Data published by comScore shows that Amazon’s Kindle Fire has emerged as the dominant Android-based tablet. At the end of February, the Kindle Fire accounted for 54 percent of all Android tablets. The next most popular Android tablet product line is Samsung’s Galaxy Tab family, which dropped from 23 percent of Android tablets in December to 15 percent in February.

The success of the Fire is no surprise to those paying attention to the tablet market—as we wrote last year, there is healthy demand for a low-cost iPad alternative. Amazon can afford to offer the hardware at a lower price than its rivals because it can make up the difference in content sales. The key factors driving sales of the Fire are likely its low price point, the strength of the Kindle brand, and the breadth of the Amazon content ecosystem.

The rising prominence of the Kindle Fire will have significant implications for the Android tablet market. Amazon is using its own application store and a fork of the Android operating system that is based on version 2.3. As Amazon continues to advance the software in its own direction, it could reduce Google’s control over the Android tablet software ecosystem.

Third-party application developers who are building software for Android tablets obviously have a big incentive to ensure that their applications are compatible with Amazon’s popular Kindle Fire. But in order to make an application compatible with the Kindle Fire, it can’t be developed using APIs that are exclusive to Ice Cream Sandwich (the latest version of Google’s operating system).

It’s not clear yet if Amazon intends to update its fork of the operating system to bring it into alignment with Android 4. Amazon’s changes to the operating system are said to be much deeper than the kind of cosmetic changes that handset manufacturers typically make to differentiate their products. As Amazon’s flavor of the platform continues to diverge, application developers will likely follow in order to reach the device’s audience.

If Google wants to keep its own variant of Android relevant on tablets, the search giant will need products that are capable of competing with the Kindle Fire. Google is reportedly planning to launch its own low-cost Nexus tablet, possibly this year. Such a device would be aimed squarely at competing with the Kindle Fire rather than more expensive devices. Google has recently been working to strengthen its own content ecosystem and streamline its various media stores. It’s an effort that could help it pursue the same model as Amazon, where content sales are used to subsidize the price of the hardware.

It’s worth noting that other major Android manufacturers are starting to enter the budget tablet market. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, a seven-inch tablet that retails for $250. The device, which comes with Ice Cream Sandwich and Google’s application store, compares favorably with the Kindle Fire. Although it’s not quite as cheap, it has slightly more RAM and some of the performance and technical advantages of ICS. Such products could help Google keep its own flavor of Android competitive on tablets.

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17 Apr 12 iPhone, iPad Alternatives: 10 Worthy Android Devices

Apple’s iPhone and iPad are great buys for would-be mobile customers, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be replaced by something new and exciting. In fact, there are a host of Android-based devices on store shelves right now that might just make Apple’s products far less appealing to both enterprise users and consumers. That means that this might be a good time to examine which of the best Android tablets and smartphones on the market today could make at least some customers think twice about buying an iPhone and iPad. Granted, the following devices might not all be able to stand up against the iPhone and iPad, feature for feature, or on price. But for those who don’t want to succumb to the Apple craze, they might just be worthwhile alternatives. Flip through the following slides to find out about Android smartphones and tablets that might be worthy alternatives to the iPhone or iPad. You’ll find some obvious choices, like the Amazon Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but you might also come across some other devices you haven’t thought about.

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10 Apr 12 Toshiba Unveils 13.3-Inch Android Tablet

Toshiba Unveils 13.3-Inch Android TabletToshiba has introduced its new line of quad-core Android tablets, including a giant 13-inch model with a high-resolution display and quad-core processor. The company is also phasing out its 7- and 10-inch Thrive tablets, which will be replaced with the new Excite line of tablets running Android 4.0.

The 13.3-inch Toshiba Excite sports a high-res display, which at 1,600 by 900 pixels is sharper than typical Android tablets, but still below the third-generation iPad’s display of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels. The only comparable resolution in Android land would be the Asus Transformer TF700T, which sports a resolution of 1,900 by 1,200 pixels.

Make no mistake though, the 13-inch model is big: it weighs 2.2 pounds, it’s 0.4 inches thick and is practically the size of a serving tray. But with the size, you get a range of ports, including a full-size SD card slot, a microUSB port and a microHDMI port. Toshiba also claims the battery can last up to 13 hours, and there’s an included (separate) tablet stand for when the tablet gets too heavy for users.

Toshiba Unveils 13.3-Inch Android TabletThe 7.7-inch ExciteThe giant Toshiba tablet also packs some powerful specs inside: it runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM, and sports dual cameras, 1.3-megapixel on the front and a 5-megapixel on the back. There’s no 3G/4G connectivity on board though, and the Excite 13 is set to arrive on June 10 for $650 for the 32GB model and $750 for the 64GB model — around $50 more than the equivalent iPad models.

With a 13.3-inch tablet, almost double the size of the popular Amazon Kindle Fire, Toshiba hopes to appeal to those who use their tablet mostly at home. With the large screen and loud SRS Surround speakers, it’s easier on the eye to watch videos (as long as you use the aforementioned stand), and it could be better for video calls as well.

Toshiba Unveils 13.3-Inch Android TabletThe 10-inch ExciteBut if you’re looking for some more regular-sized tablets from Toshiba, the company also introduced 7.7- and 10-inch Excite tablets, also running on quad-core processors and Android 4.0. The Excite 10 is set to go on sale in May for $450 for 16GB, $530 for 32GB or $650 for the 64GB model. The Excite 7.7 will arrive in June with the Excite 13, at $500 for 16GB and $580 for 32GB.

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06 Apr 12 Google Rethinks Price, Specs On Android Tablet

10 Things Tablets Still Can't Do
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Google has decided to make changes to its co-branded Android tablet. Citing a source familiar with Google’s plans, The Verge today reports that the current design of the tablet had been nearly final, but Google now wants to lower the price point further, which will lead to design, component, and specification alterations.

The Verge‘s source said that the original target price of Google’s first co-branded tablet was $249–half the cost of the entry-level Apple iPad and competitive with products such as the Amazon Kindle Fire. The tablet, which is being built by Asustek, will reportedly have a seven-inch display, Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and Wi-Fi (only) for internet connectivity.

Now Google wants to drop the price from $249 to $199 or less.

This gels with what The Wall Street Journal reported last week: Google wants to win tablet market share from Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle, and to do that it will sell devices that are co-branded with its hardware manufacturer partners. Rather than sell just one Google-branded tablet from a single OEM, the search giant will offer several devices from a variety of manufacturers.

[ The pace of mobile innovation has never been greater, according to Google's Larry Page. Read more at Google's Page: 'Android Is On Fire'. ]

The Journal listed Motorola (which Google is in the process of acquiring), Samsung, and Asus as possible hardware partners, noting that the companies would be responsible for designing the tablet. Asus, according to the Journal and The Verge, is on deck to offer the first tablet and will likely have an exclusive spot as the lone device available for a short time.

In addition to offering the tablet at a low price point, it is possible that Google will launch an online store to sell the tablet directly to consumers rather than through wireless network operators. Wireless network operators have not had much success selling subsidized tablets to consumers, mainly due to the financial burden necessitated by the required two-year contracts.

Looking at the specs and features listed by The Verge, Google could get things right with this phantom Android tablet. The smaller display size has several advantages. It would require less power, allow the device to be smaller and more portable, and work well with scaled-up Android smartphone applications. The key component, however, is the Tegra 3 quad-core processor. I’ve used the HTC One X with the Tegra 3 for several weeks now and can attest to this chip’s computing prowess. It delivers incredible performance and manages to sip power at the same time.

Sticking to Wi-Fi as the sole means of connecting to the Internet is also essential to keeping the cost low. This approach should be just fine for most users, as very few people use wireless broadband networks to browse on their tablets. The vast majority of tablet users browse via Wi-Fi.

As long as the display of this unnamed, unannounced device isn’t garbage and battery life is decent, it could be just what Google needs to gain traction in the tablet market.

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