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HTML5 User Interface in Mobile Devices - Mobile Platform Selection

Given the changing economics in the mobile device platform shares, the research was targeted to a limited selection of platforms. The selection of the mobile device platforms was based upon on their market shares during the last two years. Traditionally one manufacturer made both the software and the hardware for a given device, as it has been the case with Nokia until last year, when they started using an operating system from Microsoft, and with Apple. Recently there has been a separation of those two, for example with Google’s Android operating system, with Samsung as the biggest device manufacturer using it. [35]

In addition to the market share, also the developer mindshare was evaluated for making a platform selection. Forthcoming device release, such as Nokia Lumia devices that come with Windows Phone 7 and 8 operating systems, attract the developers.

StatCounter provides global statistics on currently active Internet users. The five biggest operating systems for the last nearly three years according to StatCounter are shown in Figure 11. It can be seen that Symbian from Nokia, still dominant in 2008, lost initially its marker shares to iOS which was first available via iPhone and later via iPad. Starting in summer 2009, Android rocketed while taking market shares from Symbian and iOS, later from Blackberry too. [36]

During the summer 2012, feature phone platform Nokia S40 jumped on the list, mainly due to new Asha devices. Surprisingly there is no Windows Phone present in the statistics. Windows Phone is seen as the rising star, as the Developer Economics state that it is “the new cool”. [37]

Back in November 2011, when Windows Phone Marketplace had existed for a year, Distimo, a mobile analytics company made a report of their research of the marketplace. [38] TechCrunch referred the results as:

“Today, Microsoft’s Windows Phone is being hyped as the 3rd major mobile ecosystem, with some analysts even predicting it will steal huge chunks of mobile market share away from Apple’s iPhone by 2015. However, in terms of its app store, it’s still the 5th largest in size, behind Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Nokia.”

Top five mobile operating systems according to StatCounter

Figure 11. Top five mobile operating systems according to StatCounter [36]

Markets are clearly dominated by two big players, Google Android and Apple iOS. The same can be read from the developer mindshare where the situation has been like so for the last three years. In a similar fashion Blackberry has declined while Windows Phone is gaining interest, as Figure 12 visualises. [37]

Developer Mindshare index 2010-2012 according to VisionMobile

Figure 12. Developer Mindshare index 2010-2012 according to VisionMobile [37]

While the current state of the market share and developer mindshare reflect the past, the future intentions are equally interesting. While Android is slightly losing its attractions, Windows Phone is gaining it, as it can be seen in Figure 13, in the yearly comparison of the developer intentshare.

Developer Intentshare 2011-2012 according to VisionMobile

Figure 13. Developer Intentshare 2011-2012 according to VisionMobile [37]

Surprisingly Qt was getting more mindshare while the platforms supporting it, namely Symbian and MeeGo from Nokia, are both discontinued. However BlackBerry 10 with its C++ Cascades, using Qt might affect the numbers, but since the release date is postponed to 2013, it is unlikely. Figure 14 shows similar results from the developer survey by Appcelerator / IDC in the third quarter of 2012.

Developer platform preference results for the third quarter of 2012 by Appcelerator / IDC

Figure 14. Developer platform preference results for the third quarter of 2012 by Appcelerator / IDC [34]

Appcelerator and IDC surveyed 5526 Appcelerator Titanium developers in August 2012 on their perceptions about current debates in mobile, social, and the cloud as well as their development priorities. The results show a similar trend towards the major platforms, as shown in Figure 14. Plain HTML5 applications are the most interesting development platform after the two dominant native platforms, iOS and Android. [34]

Figure 15 shows the comparison of the developer preference results between the quarterly surveys from January 2010 to August 2012.

Interest rate of developer platforms during 2010-2012

Figure 15. Interest rate of developer platforms during 2010-2012 [34]

Obviously the results differ between the companies making them, but one thing is clear, iOS and Android clearly dominate the market and developer interest.

It is hard to say how the questions have been set and what have been the options to choose from but, anyhow Windows Phone is there as the third platform and with that position it has more value than many other longer existing platforms. Figure 16 shows the number of devices shipped and devices currently in the market.

VisionMobile 100 Million Club infographic at the end of first half 2012

Figure 16. VisionMobile 100 Million Club infographic at the end of first half 2012 [39]

According to mobile device analytics company Gartner, the sale numbers for smartphones are only expected to grow, while in the third quarter of 2011 the sales increase was 42%. [40] Specifically Google Android is the most growing platform.

The platform versions tested were the latest publicly released versions that are already available or expected to be available soon in the devices on the market. The selected four mobile device platforms based on their popularity are:

  • Apple iOS 6
  • Google Android 4.2
  • Microsoft Windows Phone 8
  • RIM BlackBerry 10

The versions selected are the most recent versions made available for developers. At the moment only BlackBerry 10 devices are not available at the market. Developers are able to get an Alpha device from RIM but only by being personally present at any of the BlackBerry Jam events. All of the four platforms come with a software simulator in the platform SDK which makes it possible to test some of the development aspects. However, true performance can only be tested on a real device. Figure 17 shows the developer survey results of the targeted form factors, placing smartphones first, tablets second with over half of developers targeting them.

Form factor targets in the order of priority for developers

Figure 17. Form factor targets in the order of priority for developers [37]

Adding tablets and other form factors to the consideration, they are outside the scope of this research. However HTM5 enables for liquid layouts that realign and resize automatically via CSS method called media queries.