Stereotypes are often correct.
The mobile ecosystem is diverse and filled with creative minds who are passionate about apps. An average person probably pictures app developers as mysterious individuals hunched over a keyboard feverishly writing code … code that has the power to run our lives.
The average person may have a set image of app developers in their mind, but the truth is more mundane. App developers are just like everybody else. They come in all shapes and sizes, cover a variety of ages and want to make money. And they are overwhelmingly male.
According to a global survey of more than 1,000 developers by mobile advertising platform InMobi, the average developer is a 31- to 35-year-old man with less than three of years of app development experience earning approximately $6,000 per month. InMobi’s State of Mobile App Developers 2016 report said that only 6% of developers are female and a mere 16% of all developers have more than five years of app building experience.
Male, Over 30, Writing Java
The survey focused on three regions of established mobile app development—North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific—with an aim to provide a snapshot of the current developer community. A total of 1,089 responses were received and the report highlighted a number of disparities within the ecosystem itself.
On a global scale, men dominate the industry. Fully 91% of people identified themselves as male, with Europe and the Asia-Pacific region showing female representation of less than 5%. Approximately 11% of app developers in North America were women but men still accounted for 83% of all developers.
Age and experience varied depending on the region, the report said. The global average age of a developer is 33, with 46% of people saying that they were between 25- and 34-years-old. Fully 49% of developers in Asia-Pacific fell into that category, compared to 44% in Europe and 35% in North America. App developers in North America are older than their global counterparts, with 52% 35 or above.
The app development industry is still relatively young, the report said. The majority of developers have fewer than three years experience, with 34% claiming four-plus years in the industry. Most developers prefer to work on their own, said the report. Approximately 47% of people are an independent developer, while 33% worked on a team of fewer than five.
Money is the primary motivation for developers, InMobi said. Nearly 35% of people said revenue was the reason they build apps with fun and the chance to be creative cited by 17% and 16%, respectively. Fully 14% of developers said that the apps economy is an exciting market to be in, while 6% said it was the lifestyle that attracted them.
Show Me The Money
For a community with money as the primary motivator, the rewards are still very low.
The report said that 55% of developers make $1,000 a month at most, with a tiny proportion (4%) taking home more than $100,000 per month. Independent developers are paid the least and can expect to earn average monthly revenue of $1,500 while large studios rake in 30 times more than that every month.
Developers in North America can earn average monthly revenue of $9,400, despite the fact that 49% of developers are still earning less than $1,000. Approximately 3% are financially secure with a take-home pay of $500,000 or more. Developers in Asia-Pacific are paupers compared to the rest of the world … as 61% earn $1,000 or less, while average monthly revenue is $3,400.
The big payer in the mobile app ecosystem is Microsoft. Apps built for the Windows Phone can net a developer $11,400 per month, the report said.
Android and iOS are drastically different in terms of monetary return for developers showing monthly revenue of $4,900 and $8,100, respective. The reason why Windows pays the most is very simple … it has a niche audience and there are not as many apps available to that small segment of the population that have a Windows Phone.
Games were the apps category that developers preferred, followed by entertainment, utilities, education and lifestyle.
More than 41% of developers worked on game apps—an unsurprising statistic when you consider just how many games are in both the App Store and Google Play. Entertainment apps accounted for 32% of all app development, although media apps were well down the list—only 9% of developers are working in that category.
This pattern was repeated across the globe. In North America, 64% of all app development was in games with Europe reporting 55%. Asia-Pacific had a more reasonable spread as games accounted for 39% of work compared to 34% for utilities and 33% for entertainment.
Android Is The One Developers Like
Android remains the operating system to which developers migrate. The report said that 86% of developers build Android apps while iOS is the focus for 57%. Windows was the only other platform of note with 21%.
The fragmentation of the device market and the open source nature of Android mean that the operating system—from a marketshare perspective, at least—is the one to beat.
Fully 90% of developers in Europe and 81% in North America build Android apps, although the report failed to identify the number of cross-platform developers. In Asia-Pacific, Android beats iOS by a significant margin—88% to 54%, respectively. The number of low-cost devices available in that region has played a part, especially in countries that are either new adopters of smartphones or whose Internet infrastructure has improved.
App discovery was—surprise, surprise—the main problem that developers face. Only 15% of apps have been downloaded more than one million times globally, with 37% installed fewer than 10,000 times. Approximately 40% of apps have shown reasonable install rates of between 10,000 and 500,000 downloads, but the age-old problem of making people aware that an app exists is the fundamental challenge for all developers.
“The speed at which the app industry continues to evolve, the tools and platforms available to build and monetize apps, is overwhelming for developers to build a sustainable business,” said InMobi. “This has opened up great opportunities for the app developers to launch their own entrepreneurial avenues, build great products and further scale their businesses. The market is massive and with huge competition the challenge for the app developers is to make sure that they are able to monetize these apps to fund innovation.”