Keeping track of the latest mobile trends and updates is absolutely essential for developers who wish to earn professional success. In today’s discussion, we have summarized the most noteworthy facts and figures from the domain of smart devices and app platforms from the first few months of this year.
A lot has been happening in the world of mobile technology since the turn of the year. Highly-anticipated smart devices like Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy S6 have been launched – much to the delight of gadget-lovers. The iOS vs Android tussle has been raging on, with the latest mobile OS from the respective platforms (iOS 8 and Android 5.0 Lollipop) clamoring to go one up on the other. Mobile app developers and analysts are also looking forward to this year’s Google I/O (May 28-29) and Apple WWDC (June 8-12) events, where major announcements are expected to be made. Let us here take stock of all the interesting trends and figures related to mobile tech from the perspective of developers, from the first quarter and a half of 2015:
- Workload – On average, professional app developers are taking up 6-7 projects annually. Most mobile app companies across the world are focusing on being prompt in providing free app quotes and other ongoing services to clients, and delivering value via their products. Developers are also increasingly working on multiple platforms (iOS, Windows, etc.), instead of limiting their service on any one platform.
- Battle for market-share – Android still has a more than healthy lead over iOS, but the dominance might just be faltering a bit. Researches conducted by mobile app development experts have revealed that, while Android’s market share in Europe stood at 68.5% at the end of the first quarter of 2015 (a fall of more than more than 3% compared to 2014 Q1), that of iOS jumped to nearly 21% (an increase of around 2%). In addition, Apple’s mobile platform has experienced rapid growth in the Chinese markets (its current market share in China is 26.2%).
- Android losing users to iOS? – One of the most intriguing aspects of the iOS vs Android debate in 2015, and one that has got app developers all hooked on. In Europe, almost 32.5% smartphone-users switched over from Android to iOS during the first quarter of this year. The success of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 probably has contributed to this so-called ‘exodus from Android’. It remains to be seen whether Google can hit back with its Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.
- Revenue talk – iOS is, by far, the mobile platform with the maximum earning potential for app makers. However, there are distinct indications that the pace of revenue-generation from mobile apps have slackened in 2015. 6 out of every 10 iOS app developers have a monthly income of less than $5000. On the Android platform, only about 18% developers manage to touch or surpass that income figure. In fact, the HTML5 platform has more app developers over the $5000/month earning zone than Google Android.
- Not a profession that promises overnight riches – From the evidence available from 2015 Q1 figures, it would be fair to say that the number of unsuccessful app developers is way more than that of successful ones. Only 5% of the total number of app development professionals worldwide manage to rake in more than $500 per month from their projects, with a further 5% falling in the $100 to $500 income bracket. At the other end of the spectrum, we have close to 18% app developers not making any money whatsoever on their software, and another 18% earning less than $100 every month. It is, in fact, somewhat paradoxical that app revenues have stagnated somewhat at a time when smartphone sale figures are escalating.
- Consumer apps ve Enterprise apps – Once again, there is a difference between the developer mindshare and the earning potential between these two categories of mobile applications. Around 45% of those involved in enterprise app development boast of monthly income figures in excess of $10000 (not even 20% of consumer app developers can make a similar claim). However, when it comes to professional focus – the enterprise market is treated as the primary target by only 2 out of every 10 app developers. For 65% mobile app development companies, creating apps for general consumers is more important.
- Primary platform for developers – With Blackberry struggling and Windows yet to make any significant mark, it’s once again iOS and Android fighting it out for becoming the primary platform for app developers across the globe. Figures from the first few months of 2015 suggest that Android has a slight edge in this regard (it is the primary platform for 41% developers, while 38% treat iOS as their main development platform). Interestingly, these figures are up by 15% (for Android) and almost 10% (for iOS) over last year’s statistics. This only goes to show how far the other smartphone OS platforms are falling behind.
- The curious case of Windows Phone – The Windows platform did manage to register solid growth in developer mindshare in the first quarter of the year (at present, 3 out of 10 developers work on the platform). However, a paltry 8% app developers consider Windows Phone as their primary platform. Windows has not been able to make much headway in terms of market share either (approximately 3%). For freelance/indie developers though, the Windows platform does offer a scope to gain greater professional exposure than the already overcrowded Android and iOS platforms. In terms of revenue though, the prospects seem pretty bleak.
- Developer mindshare outside Europe and the United States – There is a general belief that iOS dominates in Europe and the US alone, while Android is the king everywhere else. While not entirely true, the figures from the Q1 of 2015 are slightly skewed in that direction. 43% of mobile app developers in Europe and America reported that iOS was their primary platform, while outside EU and US, 49% developers preferred working on Android as their primary platform. The difference is even more significant when it comes to overall developer marketshare. Almost 60% app developers in the UK and the US create apps on the iOS platform. In other countries, Android has a whopping 73% developer mindshare.
- Premium vs Budget – As expected, the focus of Apple has remained on positioning iOS at the premium end of the mobile market. The price tags of iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus and the recently released Apple Watch bear testimony to that. In any case, the Cupertino company was not going to walk down the budget-smartphone line – after the iPhone 5C debacle. On the other hand, although the Android One project did not do well in India – Android still has many vendors that churn out budget smartphones on a regular basis. The only catch here? Most of these vendors do not provide the ‘plain-vanilla’ version of Android in their phones.
- Adoption rates of the latest versions – iOS has a headstart on this count. By March 2015, the adoption rate of iOS 8 was an impressive 73% (despite the fact that the iOS 8.1 and 8.2 upgrades were pretty lousy). The number of iOS 7 users (which, incidentally, was off to an even faster start) has dropped to around 26%. On the Android front though, Kitkat still leads the way with a close to 40% adoption figure. Android 5.0 Lollipop has been installed in just a shade over 2% devices – a far cry from what many Android app developers and software analysts had predicted. The uncertainties over the rollout of the Lollipop update hasn’t helped either.
- Swift is a roaring success – There are no two ways about it – Apple has hit the bull’s eye with its new Swift programming language. More than 20% app developers worldwide have started coding with Swift, and more interestingly, 23% of them have actually replaced Objective-C with Swift (47% developers use Swift and Obj-C simultaneously). If the overall iOS app development scenario is concerned, only a shade under 40% developers use Swift on a regular basis. App-makers have clearly taken a liking to it.
- The cost factor – Both on the software and the hardware fronts, the mobile app development costs on the iOS platform is significantly higher than that on the Android platform. This, in turn, slightly offsets the discrepancies in revenues from the mobile platforms of Apple and Google. iOS app developers still earn more than their Android counterparts – but the net difference is lower than what it seems at the first glance.
- A final word about Blackberry – It seems that new CEO John Chen is repeating his Sybase-magic at Blackberry as well. When the company officially reported a loss of almost $6 billion early last year, most app developers had written the company off. In fact, BB had failed to find a buyer in 2014, when it was almost certain that the company would be sold. The much-hyped Z10 and Q10 were unmitigated disasters too. However, the impressive show of Blackberry Passport and Blackberry Classic have made cross-platform developers sit up and take notice. Maybe, just maybe, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for this once popular mobile platform.
iOS and Android are still expected to be the platforms that app developers would be interested in the most, for the next few quarters at least. It will be interesting to note how the Tizen OS (from Samsung) performs, if and when it is released. By the time Watch released, there were well over 3000 WatchKit applications at the store – although most of them were qualitatively below par. All eyes are on the next few months, as developers keep an eye on new announcements, and strive for ways to boost their earnings and serve their clients better.
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