Developer Economics Q1 2015: State of the Developer Nation

Based on a survey of 8,000+ app developers

February 2015

Developer Economics Q1 2015: State of the Developer Nation

Based on a survey of 8,000+ app developers

February 2015

Developer Economics is the leading research program on mobile developers and the app economy, tracking developer experiences across platforms, revenues and revenue models, apps, dev tools, APIs, segments and regions.

The 8th edition State of the Nation report features all the latest trends in mobile and IoT development, including platform and language prioritisation, revenues and revenue models, tool adoption and more. It also examines the rise of Swift, the most popular IoT markets, enterprise vs. consumer apps, as well as presenting the most important sources for developer monetisation.

Key Themes

  • Stalemate in the platform wars? – Global vs. regional developer Mindshare
  • The rise of Swift – Most popular programming languages, breakdown of Swift developers
  • App economy revenues are polarising – Developer revenues by platform, region
  • Developing the Internet of Things – Most popular IoT markets, devs interested in IoT
  • Not all tools are created equal – Total tool adoption, breakdown by platform, user analytics
  • Enterprise vs. consumer – Top app categories and platforms, revenue breakdown
  • Platforms appeal to different motivations – Developer segments by platform
  • The app economy in 2015 – E-commerce vs. app store, advertising, contract revenues

Key Insights

  • The platform wars have ended in a stalemate. Android is a priority for 40% of full time professional developers, iOS for 37%, whilst Windows Phone and the mobile browser have just 8% and 7% respectively.
  • Our development language rankings show absolutely unprecedented growth for Apple’s new Swift language. 20% of mobile developers were using Swift just 4 months after it was introduced to the world.
  • 23% of Swift adopters were not using Objective C, a sign that Swift may succeed in attracting a much wider range of developers to build native iOS apps.
  • Despite the immaturity of IoT platforms, mobile developer interest is high. A massive 53% of mobile developers in our survey were already working on some kind of IoT project.
  • Smart Home was the most popular market with 37% of mobile developers working on IoT projects targeting it. Wearables were a close second with 35% mindshare.
  • Tool awareness is increasing. The fraction of developers not using any third party tools at all has fallen to an all time low of 17%.
  • Cross-platform tool adoption is on the rise. The percentage of developers using these tools has grown from 23% to 30% over the last 6 months.
  • 43% of enterprise app developers make more than $10K per month versus 19% of consumer app developers reaching the same revenue level.
  • We predict that mobile e-Commerce will account for 2.5 times as much revenue as all the other sources put together at $300 billion.

Graphs

A majority of these are trying and failing to earn some money with a side project, rather than doing this as their full-time occupation. This group also includes those who aren’t making any money yet, but presumably don’t expect to be. A further 18% of developers make less than $100 per month and the next 17%, bringing us to a total of 52%, make less than $1000 per month.

The iOS ecosystem appears to have a lock on the high end that will be hard to break. Slow but steady, iOS developer mindshare declines over recent years have reversed; they’re now back up to 54%. iOS also remains the primary platform for 37% of the full-time professional developers, creating the quality apps that keep their ecosystem in front. In North America and Europe, iOS commands a greater mindshare (58%) and by far the largest share of professional developers, with 42% prioritising the platform.

Our survey of 8,000+ developers ran just 4 months after Swift was introduced to the world and only 1 month after it was possible to submit an app written with it to the iOS App Store. With this background it’s fair to say that adoption levels are totally unprecedented. 20% of all mobile developers were using Swift and 2% as their primary language. For a language that’s still evolving and for which the tools are not yet mature (Apple just released an updated compiler that crashes a lot less) this is highly remarkable.

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