Developer Economics Q3 2014: State of the Developer Nation

Based on a survey of 10,000+ app developers

July 2014

Developer Economics Q3 2014: State of the Developer Nation

Based on a survey of 10,000+ app developers

July 2014

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

Based on a survey of 10,000+ app developers, the 7th edition Developer Economics: State of the Developer Nation Q3 2014 research report investigates the latest trends and discusses platform consolidation, languages, consumer vs. enterprise revenues, as well as developer tools and segments.

Key Themes

  • Platform wars go local – Global vs. regional Mindshare
  • Language ranking – Most popular vs. most actively used programming languages
  • Language lock-in – Language mix for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry
  • App monetization – App revenues globally, Android vs. iOS, app revenue split
  • Consumer vs. enterprise – Revenues for developers targeting consumers vs. enterprises
  • Game developers – Revenues for mobile game devs, top platforms and tools
  • Developer tools – Revenues of devs using tools, top tool categories
  • Developer segments – Characteristics, sizes and revenues for all 8 developer segments

Sample Graphs

Mobile Developer Mindshare Q1 2014

Developer mindshare for iOS is down slightly over the last 6 months but this is not fewer developers making the platform their primary target, just fewer choosing to support both Android and iOS. In most local markets developer mindshare is related to platform market share, with a bias towards iOS due to its disproportionate share of the high end customers - latest official figures imply that the average iOS user is worth 4 Android users in terms of store revenues. Eastern Europe and the former CIS is an interesting exception to this rule; Android has a massive majority of device sales locally, yet 38% of developers prefer iOS, exporting their apps to wealthy western markets.

Contract development is the highest grossing direct revenue model for mobile developers

At the bottom of the app revenue pile, 24% of all developers that are interested in making money make nothing at all. A further 23% of developers make something but less than $100 per app per month. This level of revenue is unlikely to cover the basic costs of a desktop machine for development, test devices and an account to publish apps. Those prioritising iOS are significantly less likely to suffer this fate, with “only” 35% earning $0-100 versus 49% of Android developers and an even higher percentage on all other platforms.

Developer Tools and Services Tracker

The average games developer targets 3 platforms, compared to an average non-games developer at 1.75 according to our research. This increased portability also shows up as a higher proportion of games developers on minority platforms. The mobile browser is the major exception here, since most games are built with native code for performance and are not easily ported to the web. BlackBerry 10 also has a lower ratio of games to non-games developers relative to its popularity. This is likely due to the ease of porting non-game Android apps but also lack of an NDK environment that many Android games depend upon. Game developers priorities are evident in the number of platforms targeted by those who use each platform. The typical Nokia X game developer targets almost 6 platforms, meaning that they also target most of the more popular platforms first.

Key Insights

  • On a global level the platform wars are ending with iOS claiming the majority of the high-end device market and Android winning almost everywhere else. Windows Phone continues to gain developer mindshare steadily at 28%.
  • HTML5 is the most widely used at 42% of developers with Java, the native language on Android, the next most popular at 38%.
  • A surprisingly high 47% of iOS developers and 42% of Android developers are using something other than the native language on their platforms.
  • The majority of app businesses are not sustainable at current revenue levels. 50% of iOS developers and 64% of Android developers are below the ‘app poverty line” of $500 per app per month.
  • 67% of mobile app developers primarily target consumers and 11% target professionals directly. The 16% of developers who target enterprises are twice as likely to be earning over $5k per app per month and almost 3 times as likely to earn more than $25k per app per month.
  • Games dominate app store revenues, yet most games developers struggle. 33% of developers make games but 57% of those games make less than $500 per month
  • Third party tools are a critical part of successful app businesses. There’s a strong correlation between tool use and revenues, the more tools a developer uses, the more money they make.
  • The breakdown of developer segments that target each platform is determined by how well the platforms help them meet their goals. Adoption of iOS amongst Explorers and particularly Hobbyists is limited, while the opposite is true for Windows Phone.

Testimonials

  • Well Done for the comprehensive research, you guys rock!

    Yaacov Cohen Co-founder & Social CEO
  • I find your research fascinating, as do the Forbes readers who follow me. You did a fantastic job with Developer Economics Q3 2014

    Louis Columbus Columnist at Forbes

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