According to a recent worldwide survey, nearly 46% of all professional software developers are into making mobile applications. The global community of app developers has been expanding at a rapid clip over the last five years or so, and currently stands at just a shade under 8.9 million worldwide. Practically every country has a large number of mobile app companies, there are agencies with robust international presence, and there are plenty of indie developers operating as well. In today’s analysis, we will take a tour of the key statistics and trends associated with app developers around the world:
- Where are the app developers located? – Asia comfortably occupies the top spot, as far as availability of mobile app developers is concerned. The continent accounts for 33% of all developers across the globe. North America and Europe, with 30% share each, come in next. Slightly surprisingly, the total count of app makers in Oceania is significantly lower than that in Africa (3% vs 1.5%).
- How big is the incremental growth? – More than 800000 professionals join in as mobile developers every year, a remarkable figure in itself. In particular, countries like South Korea and China have fast-growing economies, and over here, the annual rate of growth of mobile app developers is the highest. The markets in Europe, North America and Australia are expanding as well. Revenues from the app sector have also been spiralling, with growths of 65%-70% on a year-on-year basis (over the last half decade).
- Which platform is generating the most jobs for app developers? – Apple’s iOS has a healthy lead over Google’s Android, when it comes to mobile app development jobs. Globally, 60.3% of all the new developer jobs are on the iOS platform, while Android accounts for around 39.4%. Geographically, it’s the United States that generates the most job opportunities for new developers, followed by India, Australia, France and the UK. This lead of iOS over Android is present pretty much in all countries – with one notable exception. In India, the Android platform generates 51% of jobs, while iOS follows with a shade under 49%. The city with the most number of developer jobs in the world is Seattle.
- What type of apps are being made? – A report from June 2016 showed that mobile games, with 23.35% download share, were by far the most popular category of apps in the Apple App Store. Business apps and educational apps occupy the second and third spots respectively, with travel apps also featuring in the top-10. Social networking applications, with a measly 2.08% download share, come in at a lowly 18th. The total app download count from the App Store is well in excess of 130 billion.
- Profession vs hobby – App development is an overwhelmingly male-dominated profession. In Asia, 95% of all developers are male, and the corresponding figure in North America is 90%, in Europe 96%, and in South America 97%. More interestingly, only 34% of all the mobile developers in Asia are into making apps professionally, while 51% are into this as a hobby. This trend is observable in North America (32% professional developers; 51% coding as hobby), Oceania (36% professional developers; 49% coding as hobby) and South America (38% professional developers; 45% coding as hobby) as well. Apart from mobile applications, developers are also increasingly getting into Internet of Things and Cloud Services. Desktop app development is also popular in all the countries.
Note: In Asia, mobile app development is more of a ‘young man’s job’ than in most other places. The average age of developers here is 27, compared to 32 in Europe, 34 in Oceania and 34 in North America.
- What are app development costs? – The prices charged by mobile app developers is the highest in North America (both for iOS and Android). It has to be noted here that the average Android app development cost here ($168/hour) is slightly higher than the average iOS app development cost ($150/hour). The prices are a lot lower in Europe (average for iOS → $70/hour; average for Android → $70/hour), and lower still in South America and Africa. However, mobile app companies charge the lowest in India, with an average hourly rate of $26 for Android projects and $30 for iOS projects. Not surprisingly, clients from all over looking for cheap app development services make a beeline for Indian firms.
- What are the mobile platforms developers work on? – In the duopoly established by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, it is easy to lose sight of the other mobile platforms that developers work on. Custom applications are regularly made by companies for the Blackberry (although its share is dwindling fast) and the Windows Phone platforms (in addition to the Windows 10 and HTML5 software platforms). While indie developers specialize on any one of the platforms, leading companies generally offer cross-platform app development services.
- How much money are the app developers making? – Many newbies choose mobile app development as their profession in the hope of earning big through their apps and software. Things are not that straightforward though. Among all professional app developers (i.e., excluding the ones who code as a hobby), more than 60% live below the so-called ‘app poverty line’ – i.e., their monthly earnings are less than $500 per app. The situation is the best on the iOS platform, where less than 50% developers are below the ‘app poverty line’, and the worst for Windows Phone – on which hardly 2 out of 10 developers manage to earn that benchmark amount. At the other end of the earning spectrum, only about 8%-9% developers manage to make more than $50000 per month on each of their applications. The number of these ‘top-tier developers’ is the highest in iOS, and the lowest in Blackberry. Around 65% of Android app developers fail to move beyond the ‘app poverty line’, while the number belonging in the ‘top-tier’ is less than that for HTML5 mobile platform.
Note: In terms of income-generation capacity for developers, iOS is easily the leading platform. While Android has a much larger market share across the globe (thanks to the large number of handsets and vendors), making big money on a continuous basis is a lot more difficult for Android developers.
10. Moving beyond the smartphone screen – This is a trend that is expected to gather further momentum over the next couple of years. According to forecasts, there will be more and more developer migration – from making apps for smartphones, to smart cars, smart watches, smart homes, smart TVs, and the like. 53% of all developers are already interested in the Internet of Things. No longer is app development only about making software for phones – the technology is evolving, and evolving fast.
11. Consumer apps vs Business apps – The latter hold out a significantly stronger promise of higher revenues for developers. By 2016 Q1, 16% of enterprise app developers raked in $500000 per month – while only 6% of consumer app developers managed to earn in the similar range. Also, around 32% of those who make business apps were found to be below the ‘app poverty line’ – the zone where more than 47% consumer app developers find themselves in. The stats strongly suggest that developer interest would switch from consumer apps to business apps in the coming years.
12. What is the most popular method for mobile app monetization? – For free apps, 2 out of every 3 app developers prefer including advertisements in their applications. Most of such apps allow users the option to upgrade to ‘Pro’ (ad-free) versions. Although banner ads and interstitial ads are still most commonly used, developers are steadily moving towards native ads – which tend to be less intrusive in nature. In-app purchases are also popular, but that strategy is nowhere near as preferred on by developers as advertisements.
The perception that the rise in mobile app development activities is a relatively new phenomenon is borne out by the fact that nearly 75% of developers have been in this line of business for 3 years or less. Although the iOS platform creates maximum new jobs, Android has the largest developer mindshare (iOS is, expectedly, second). The cumulative revenues from the global mobile app industry is expected to soar to $101 billion by 2020. One thing is for certain – application development is one line of business that is in the fast track of growth. For sure.