Operator APIs left in dust as Google sweeps up

Almost two thirds of mobile application developers are using or planning to use Google’s server side APIs when building apps, with only a quarter using those provided by mobile operators.

A global survey of 217 application developers by analyst house Ovum found that 60 per cent of respondents are opting for Google APIs, while only 25 per cent are using operator APIs. Furthermore, 31 per cent of respondents were also planning to use Facbook APIs, illustrating that the mobile carriers have their work cut out for them.

Michele Mackenzie, industry analyst at Ovum, said the results were, “Not surprising as Google, leveraging its dominance in the internet domain, is fast establishing itself as a strong partner in the mobile applications environment. But given that mobile operators have put increasing efforts behind API exposure it is perhaps disappointing that only 25 per cent of the respondents were supporting or planned to support mobile network operator APIs.”

Still, Mackenzie believes the operators still have time to turn the tide, citing the top requirements for app developers as: ease of development (70 per cent); breadth of platform functionality (69 per cent); good quality SDKs (68 per cent); and flexibility/innovation (63 per cent).

In terms of actual channel partners, Apple’s App Store topped the charts, with 74 per cent of respondents distributing or planning to distribute their applications through it. Android Market, BlackBerry App World, and Windows Marketplace for Mobile all scored well with more than 50 per cent of the sample supporting them.

Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum, added: “Rather surprisingly the operator portal or application store was not, as one might have expected, the poor relation to the device vendor stores. A respectable 51 per cent of respondents were using the operator as a channel or planned to do so.”

Zoller believes that operators are generally perceived as good channel partners because they provide many of the core partner attributes and also support some or all of the devices offered by their rivals.

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