A week ago I posted a poll to find out whether developers are eager to start developing Windows Phone 7 applications considering the current state of development tools and trends connected to the new platform.
There were a total of 144 votes cast, the majority being for starting developing since the platform had a future. I tried to analyze the results and find arguments on why people chose one of the options, so here goes.
Yes - the platform definitely has a future
The most popular answer, scoring 61 votes. This answer was most likely picked by developers who either worked with the WP7 development tools or know pretty well what those are about. I am not going to predict the future of the platform right now, but I can say that it does look promising – given the fact that many .NET developers already have the skills to get started right away with professional applications (Silverlight skills are a big plus). The fact that WP7 development tools heavily rely on existing technology and tools is a big benefit for the platform as a whole and will help it grow a bit faster than it would be if something completely new and different would be introduced.
This answer took the second place in the poll with 18 votes. Some developers generally have doubts about the platform, but knowing that their knowledge is at a decent level to start off with development is a motivator to jump in at any time. For now, some of them are either not really interested in mobile development (but might become interested later) due to the fact that they are involved in other projects or don’t have time, but are interested in development for WP7 in the future.
Probably, if other developers will pick it up
Not a lot of developers voted for this – only 9 votes. However, you can see the reason – people don’t want to pick up a somewhat new technology until they see the community picking it up. Forum discussions, articles, blog posts related to WP7 – to some developers, community support is much more important than we can think (although there is a ton of official documentation and how-to tutorials). When there is buzz, there is interest. Right now it's all about experimentation, though.
Only if I will see that the number of apps in the Marketplace will reach high levels
Although this might seem like a valid reason (gaining only 7 votes), it is not so popular because most of the developers simply won’t wait to see the Marketplace situation. Chances are, if you manage to push your application into the marketplace when it all starts, it will pick up a bigger momentum, therefore boosting its use among the WP7 owners. This makes it unreasonable to wait for the Marketplace to grow to put your product out to public at that time. If there is an app of interest, the developer will try to publish it as soon as possible.
I am not sure - depends on other factors
17 votes for this option, meaning that there are other factors that could influence developer interest. These factors might include the following:
The lack of testable hardware – developing for a mobile platform without the actual device is a bit hard and at the end you never know how your application will act on a real device. Therefore, if the developer doesn't have the possibility to own a device for which he develops, chances are the development interest for the platform will fade away.
The cost of Marketplace membership – even if some developers are enthusiastic about developing for Windows Phone 7, the cost of joining the Marketplace might not be reasonable considering the low investments in the application and expected low revenue (if at all).
Whether or not the development tools will remain free - this is an important factor that will decide how many developers will be set to work on the platform. If the tools will remain free, then it's all good. However, take a look at MonoTouch and the upcoming MonoDroid. Even considering that these tools are not officially supported by the targeted platform manufacturers and are abstraction layer of existing SDKs, these have their niche. That being said, these aren't massively adopted due to the cost. Free tools, on the other side (iPhone SDK/Android SDK) favor adoption in masses and active developer involvement.
With 17 votes, this might include developers who work on applications for other platforms like Android or iPhone and/or are simply not interested in developing applications for Windows Phone 7 (or for any mobile platform). Other groups might not see a future for the platform, considering that the market is split between the existing players and there is no room for anyone else. Or maybe the current development platform doesn’t allow a developer to work with Microsoft dev tools.
The poll generated a variety of opinions. What I can see here is that there is certainly interest in the platform and although it just makes its first steps, there are going to be some interesting usage statistics when it comes out. It will be really interesting to see what people will think about the same question when the actual devices will be out in the wild and the development tools will hit the RTM stage.