Windows Phone 7 Attracts Interest As Development Platform

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 (s msft) is not out of the gate and yet it’s already doing a solid job convincing developers, advertisers and publishers that it has a future, according to a new report from Millennial Media. The independent ad network teamed with Stifel Nicolaus and Digiday on a survey of 500 publishers, developers and advertisers in the third quarter on their current and future mobile plans.

As expected, Apple’s iPhone (s aapl) is the top current platform: 30 percent of publishers surveyed are targeting it now. Next year could be different though as Google Android (s goog) leads the pack in planned interest for 2011 with 29 percent of publishers expecting to leverage it as a priority. These numbers are similar to recent developer surveys from Appcelerator. But after Android, 20 percent of publishers are equally planning to focus on the iPad and Windows Phone 7. That’s a great showing for Microsoft, considering it has no devices on the market quite yet and there is no clear sense of how big the installed base will be next year. It’s also better than the Appcelerator survey, which showed developers were more interested in BlackBerry than Windows Phone 7.

It helps that Microsoft is paying some developers to develop for Windows Phone 7. But that alone can’t account for all the optimism. More likely, advertisers, developers and publishers are hearing of the promise of Windows Phone 7 and may be convinced that Microsoft is finally serious about competing in smartphones again. We’ll have to see if this intent turns into actual development plans but it’s got to be encouraging for Microsoft. So far, it appears like there will be some 1,000 apps ready for Windows Phone 7’s launch on Nov. 8.

For now, Android still looks like the best platform to overtake iOS in publisher interest. In addition to being the top platform publishers plan to add next year, it is the second most popular current platform for publishers at 23 percent, according to Millennial, followed by the iPad at 21 percent. The outlook for Research In Motion (s rimm) is more challenging, however.

Despite still being the top smartphone OS in the U.S. according to Comscore and Nielsen, only 12 percent of publishers are working on the platform currently and only 12 percent plan on doing so next year. Developers and publishers are still not sold RIM’s prospects though that could change next year with more BlackBerry OS 6 devices and the PlayBook tablet. Palm (s hpq) appears to have an even tougher road ahead. Only 5 percent of publishers currently work on Palm’s webOS devices and a meager 4 percent plan on doing so next year. HP and Palm still have a lot of convincing to do to show that webOS will power a slew of tablets, smartphones and other devices.

Publishers are overall very bullish on app revenue growth according the Millennial Media survey. Thirty one percent said they expect revenue to increase by 100 percent in 2011, while 17 percent said they expect growth of more than 50 percent and another 17 percent expect growth of more than 25 percent. Regardless of who the platform of choice is, it’s clear that the app economy is only going to grow from here. The question is by how much, on which platforms and who will take the most advantage of it.

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