According to Ovum, operators hoping to launch successful tablet devices should look to the smartphone world for advice.

The most popular smartphone platforms are supported by strong developer communities, imperative for tablet developers to emulate. Results from the survey suggest operators with plans to launch a tablet should assess the strength of each platform’s developer ecosystem as a priority.

Ovum’s 2010 survey of 217 mobile application developers highlights that mobile developers are centered around two groups of platforms: iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android on one side and Windows Phone on the other. Additionally, most developers are willing or able to support three platforms – indicating that similar tactics may well hold true for tablets.

Ovum analyst Tim Renowden said, “The iPad is naturally benefiting from the strength of the iPhone platform and it is already becoming clear that it has a strong application ecosystem springing up around it. Many iPhone developers have already decided to produce iPad-specific versions of their apps – in many cases sold as a premium or HD version of the app with a higher price.

The recent growth in Android’s smartphone market share, the growing appeal of Android devices comparable to competitors, and the likely emergence of Android-based tablets early in the second half of 2010 indicate that Android will probably form the second choice for tablet application developers (considering the absence of BlackBerry and Windows Phone tablets).

This clearly favours two tablet platforms: iPhone OS and Android. Both already have a strong presence in the smartphone space, enabling many developers to transfer much of their existing code base with relatively little problem. For developers that are not already writing applications for these platforms, the availability of tablets may provide some extra incentive to switch.

The big question remaining for operators is whether it is worthwhile investing time and resources into differentiated tablet products, and to what degree it is worth customising these devices.