Developer enthusiasm for Apple's iPad has cooled somewhat because the tablet lacks multitasking and a camera, a company that makes cross-platform development tools said today.

Of the more than 1,000 developers surveyed by Appcelerator earlier this month, 80% said they plan to create an Apple media tablet application in the next year, according to Scott Schwarzhoff, the Mountain View, Calif. company's head of marketing. In a similar poll taken two months ago , just before Apple CEO Steve Jobs stepped on stage to introduce the iPad , 90% had said they would build an iPad app in the next 12 months.

"Before the announcement, there was tons of hype about the iPad, and tons of speculation about its features," said Schwarzhoff. "After, it was clear that a couple of key features wouldn't make it in the first round, including a camera and multitasking. That's nothing that can't be fixed down the road, but it did temper enthusiasm."

The iPad's 10-point drop wasn't a surprise, said Schwarzhoff; it was just reality setting in. "Their reasoning seems pretty solid," he argued, pointing out that many of the developers who said they would hold off on iPad software for now are doing so because the applications they wanted to build required multitasking.

The newness of not only the iPad, but the category that Apple hopes to create, also struck home. "Like consumers, developers are trying to wrap their arms around the iPad," Schwarzhoff said.

Of the developers who were polled, 53% said they were "very interested" in the iPad as a development platform, down from 58% in January. That put the tablet in third place, behind the iPhone, with 87%, and Google 's Android operating system, with 81%, but significantly ahead of others, such as the Blackberry, at 43% and Windows Phone 7, at 34%.

But the fall-off isn't likely to worry Apple, Schwarzhoff admitted. "There's no way that the iPad cannot not do well," he said.

Appcelerator's newest survey also uncovered striking differences among developers who work at large and small companies. Those at the latter are more eager to dive into the iPad world. Of developers who work for companies with 10 or fewer employees, 56% were very interested in the iPad platform. Only 36% of developers in organizations with 1,000 or more workers said the same.

Schwarzhoff attributed that to a stronger "be first or be dead" attitude among developers at smaller companies, which want to stake out iPad app turf as soon as possible. Developers in large firms, on the other hand, likely work under mandates to support mission-critical platforms, like the iPhone, Android and Blackberry, and have resources that simply won't stretch to accommodate another.

"It's a nice-to-have versus a need-to-have," Schwarzhoff explained of the iPad. "Basically, developers are saying that iPhone and Android are the mandatory requirements. So to them, the iPad is a nice-to-have platform."

While the tempered enthusiasm for the iPad and the continued strong interest in the iPhone came as no shock, what amazed Appcelerator was the very strong showing of Android. Google's platform nearly caught up with the iPhone in the two months since the January survey. Early this year, the gap between Android and iPhone -- as measured by the percentage of developers who said they were very interested in working on the platform -- was 18 points. In the March poll, the iPhone's lead had narrowed to just six points.

"It's pretty clear that developers believe that Android is a must-have platform," Schwarzhoff said. "If I'm going to do one [platform], I'll pick the iPhone, but if I have the resources, I'll also do Android."

Interest in other mobile platforms, including Microsoft 's Windows Phone 7 and RIM's BlackBerry, climbed as well. Between Appcelerator's January and March poll surveys, the percentage of developers who said they were very interested in creating software for Microsoft's revamped platform nearly tripled, climbing from 13% to 34%. RIM's numbers also surged, more than doubling from 21% in January to 43% this month.

"But the most important trend," said Schwarzhoff, "is Android. That's the platform to watch."

Appcelerator plans to release Titanium Tablet SDK April 5, two days after the iPad launch this Saturday. Like the company's flagship Titanium 1.0, which lets Web developers create native iPhone, Android, PC, Mac and Linux applications using JavaScript, HTML and CSS, the Tablet SDK will allow them to turn out native iPad software.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

Read more about software development in Computerworld's Software Development Knowledge Center.

Original story - http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9174486/Developer_enthusiasm_for_iPad_slackens_as_Android_surges

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