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App developers: state of the market last 2016

Much has already been said about app development and the profession of mobile app developers. But it’s much easier to take a look at concise data: in this case from the State of Mobile App Developers study carried out by Inmobi last 2016. More than a thousand app experts from all around the globe took part in this study.

In short, we can draw as a conclusion that the app development market is still young and in continuous growth. That’s what the data collected on the app developers’ activities during 2015 reveals and seems to be in accordance with 2017’s trend.

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The app developer’s profile

The first fact thrown by this survey is that the average mobile app programmer is a male aged between 31 and 35 years. In fact, when it comes to gender we can notice that only 6% of respondents were women. The percentage programmers who are women increases to 11% in the US and falls down to 3% in Europe. It’s clear that women still have room for exploring this career − from which they seem to be excluded so far.

When focusing on age (globally) we can see that 46% of programmers are aged between 23 and 34 years and that the average age is 33 years. The Asia-Pacific region stands out for having relatively younger app developers.

Work environment: as a freelance or on a development company’s payroll?

It’s a fact that the mobile application industry is relatively young and, therefore, development companies are still in a full growth stage. A large majority of app developers work for themselves, i.e. they are self-employed or freelancers.

On the other hand, only 8% of companies that took part in the survey have 20 or more employees. In other words: a very low percentage. Small and medium-sized enterprises represent a big portion of the industry. These are struggling to gain a foothold in the application development industry.

Which kind of apps do app programmers create above all?

The answer to this question is plain and clear: they mostly develop games. Mobile games are currently at the very top of the list of most developed mobile projects. This is true for the United States, Europe and anywhere else in the world. Be it either for being the most used kind of app or for being those that generate the largest revenue, games account for 41% of all applications created in 2015. Applications conceived to entertain the user come in second place at a significant distance. These account for 32% of all apps created during last year.

In the other end are corporate applications, which represent only 8% of the applications created by the programmers surveyed. However, the industry behind this kind of apps seemed to grow during 2016, as many companies are realising the need to be present in their customers’ mobile devices.

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Creating apps for different operating systems

Even if we may seem a bit annoying, we must say again that Android is currently the king of operating systems. It surpasses by far other main operating systems like Apple’s iOS and especially those created for Windows Phone, Blackberry, Java or Symbian. This is a worldwide fact, although Android and iOS seem to be sharing the market more evenly in North America.

Moreover, 42% of app developers have between one and three Android apps in Google Play. On the other hand, only 28% of app developers have between one and three iOS apps in Apple’s Store. This comes as further evidence on the interest that users and developers have in Android. Most professionals focus on Android development as their first option and iOS comes in as their second option. Windows Phone and Kindle Store apps are already less relevant.

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Applications by OS

We must also bear in mind that Android is considered as an ‘input OS’ through which to obtain a foothold in the app development industry. But it’s also a ‘learning platform’ because it’s an open-source OS and there is plenty of documentation available on it.

In short, Android and iOS developers and applications dominate jointly the market in any given territory.

How much do app programmers earn?

Let’s get to what’s really important when devoting yourself to creating mobile apps: is it worth it or not. The truth is that determining how much will a developer or a development company earn on a monthly basis depends on many factors.

However, we can say without fear of contradiction that it’s a job in which most experts earn around one thousand dollars per month. To be more precise: 55% of application developers earn around $ 1,000 per month. The vast majority of these app professionals are freelancers. If we take a look at large companies, it’s more common to have larger turnover figures − in line with the development company’s size.

And what about apps? What’s more important: earning money or obtaining downloads?

Regarding app revenue on a worldwide scale, a standard app doesn’t exceed $ 6,000 on average. In fact, the average monthly turnover is somewhere between $ 5K and $ 10K, always depending on the platform. Paradoxically Windows Phone is the platform that generates the largest monthly turnover per app: approximately an average of $ 11.5K. It’s a platform with very few applications and a relatively small amount of users. It has done well so far but has lost influence during 2015.

However, we will not be able to obtain any revenue if we don’t obtain downloads first.

It’s estimated that only 5% of users generate revenue when it comes to free applications. This income comes from in-app purchases or through the Freemium model. This is a very low percentage, so it’s key to obtain as many downloads and loyal users who make purchase as possible to generate revenue. In fact − according to App Annie − in-app purchases accounted in 2015 for approximately 50% of the total turnover figure generated by this kind of applications.

Getting your app to succeed is still a complicated task

We keep insisting that the most important aspect of creating an app is development. However, our initial plan must include a marketing strategy and a business model for our app. The way to earn revenue is also a vital part of the development and design processes. And we don’t get tired of insisting on this!

The study carried out by Inmobi also indicates that creating a successful app from the moneymaking standpoint is still a difficult task unless we undertake a big effort. Creating a mobile marketing strategy and defining a good business plan (through a Freemium model, in-app purchases, advertising, etc.) is required to motivate players to use the mobile app.

43% of developers agree on the importance of allocating a portion of the budget to invest in post-development marketing. App design is the most important aspect when it comes to creating an app for 21% of development professionals. These two aspects are precisely the factors that developers don’t usually master seamlessly, so having several experts in each of these matters at your disposal will be essential for your app to succeed.

Don’t be discouraged: the application industry is still growing. It’s still very young and has a lot to offer to both users and application programmers. We only have to know how to adapt to the changes brought by the innovations and trends that shake the world of apps. Are you ready to take on the challenge?

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