Sixty percent of mobile developers are below the "app poverty line" However the proportion varies widely by platform as revealed by the latest State of the Developer Nation report with iOS being the one that is the most lucrative.
Vision Mobile has published the sixth edition of its Developer Economics survey which is free to download. Its report is based on a online survey that was translated available in seven languages - English, Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish. It received over 7,000 responses over a period of five weeks between October and late November 2013 but desktop app developers were not included in Vision Mobile's analysis.
Android emerged as the most popular platform, with iOS a close second.
Comparing this breakdown to the results of its previous research Vision Mobile says:
The Developer Economics Q1 2014 survey shows that 37% of developers now target Android as their primary platform, slightly up from 34% in Q3 2013. iOS remains at the same level in terms of priority,with 32% of mobile developers choosing iOS as their priority-one platform. HTML5 is the priority platform for 14% of mobile developers, down from 17% in Q3 2013. Although this slump is marginal, it is likely that developers that prioritised HTML5 previously have come to terms with the shortcomings of pure web approaches. Our research on HTML5 vs native apps in Q3 2013 showed that the key issue in HTML5 development, is not performance or API reach, but the lack of mature development tools.
Despite Android being the post popular development platform it comes behind both iOS and HTML5 in terms of revenue. In the charts shown below only app developers who are interested in generating revenue are included and this excludes a higher proportion of Android than iOS developers.
In terms of developer income iOS is the clear winner with a median revenue per app per month above $500. At the other end of the scale Windows Phone/Windows 8 app developers earn less than $50 per app per month on average. Commenting on the wide discrepancy between the iOS median of $500-$1000 and that for Android of $100-$200 Vision Mobile says:
As Android continues to grow in mid- and low-end handset segments, we don’t see the median revenues for Android developers catching-up with iOS anytime soon.
Commenting on the bleak picture of "app poverty", Vision Mobile says:
The picture is not encouraging for the average developer on challenger platforms: on BlackBerry 10, around 70% of developers that prioritise the platform are below the "app poverty line". The same figure for Windows Phone is at 79% and even higher on Windows 8 (89%) reflecting the large share of Hobbyist and Explorer segments using these platforms. The income inequality on these platforms is so profound that developers consider it too risky to prioritise these platforms, i.e. to invest more resources into these than on either Android or iOS.
Looking to the other end of the income scale it points out that HTML5 has the largest share of devs who generate revenues of over $50,000 per app per month, and it comes second to iOS in terms of generating a viable income per app, with 59% below the poverty line compared to 62% for Android and only 46% for iOS.
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