Who are App Developers?

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September 27, 2012 at 12:41PM

Today, the Application Developers Alliance and GigaOM released the results of a survey of Alliance members and a wide audience of developers. Contrary to the stereotype of a young guy building the “next big thing” app between classes or after his day-job, the survey found that the average app developer is a well-educated professional in his mid-thirties. App developers tend to work for small firms, and most are building paid apps for smartphones.

“App developers are innovators and creators, and most are older and more experienced professionals than some might imagine. Building businesses, working individually or in very small firms, most developers are working to overcome the same challenges to deliver quality apps,” said Jon Potter, President of the Application Developers Alliance. “The Application Developers Alliance is working to support app developers, providing them the tools they need to continue to build their businesses and produce innovative apps that are loved by consumers.”

The survey found that 94 percent of app developers are male and nearly 60 percent are over 30. More than 70 percent have a college degree, and nearly half of those have completed some graduate work.

Most app developers are full-time employees, with app development accounting for all, or a portion, of their jobs. Moreover, app developers are professionals, with more than half building apps for more than 2 years. Nearly 30 percent said they have been building apps for more than 4 years, making them pioneers in the field. The average income of a professional (non hobbyist) is $75,000 a year.

"Our research shows that seven out of ten application developers entered the market in the last three years, a testament to how fast this segment of the software market is growing," said Michael Wolf, Vice President with GigaOM. "As app downloads grow from 31 billion in 2012 to 56 billion by 2015, we expect continued growth in both consumer and enterprise markets, which will result in additional opportunities for entrepreneurial software developers across all geographies."

Two-thirds of respondents work in small firms, defined as those with three or fewer individuals. 95 percent of respondents were developing an app for a smartphone or had done so in the last year, while 70 percent of respondents were developing apps for tablet devices. Tools and utility apps were the most developed apps among respondents, with games, business or finance apps, and location-based apps also popular.

The majority of developers are creating paid apps, which the study defined as apps with a fee for download or with opportunities for in-app purchases. Only a quarter of smartphone developers and 18 percent of tablet developers are incorporating ads in their applications, suggesting developers are facing challenges like limited mobile ad budgets and lack of data charting the effectiveness of these ads.

The web-based survey of developers was conducted by GigaOM in partnership with the Application Developers Alliance over the course of the summer and received 352 responses.