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Mobile Platforms: What is the Developer Mindshare, Intentshare, App-building Costs and Revenue?

by Abel Avram on Jun 25, 2012 |

A new survey from VisionMobile shows how developers perceive mobile platforms and what are the costs to develop mobile apps and associated revenues.

VisionMobile has surveyed over 1,500 developers on development costs and revenues associated with mobile applications. The developers came from 83 countries spread all over the world including Oceania, Africa and Latina America beside the usual North America, Europe, Asia, and it was carried out in April and May 2012.

VisionMobile has kept a Developer Mindshare Index for the last 3 years referring to the top 10 platforms used by developers irrespective of their main development platform. Android and iOS have grown while other platforms have stagnated or diminished over the time as shown in the next chart:

image

The survey also includes data on a Developer Intent Index for the last 2 years, representing the percentage of developers intending to use each of the top 8 mobile platforms. Unlike most platforms which remained roughly the same or decreased, Windows Phone is drawing the attention of developers in 2012:

image

When asked what is the deciding factor in choosing a platform, the majority of developers chose the platform’s reach: “Large installed base of devices” – 54%, “Low cost development” – 43%, “Familiar development environment” – 31%, “Revenue potential” – 30%, and “Good documentation and tech support” – 30%.

The Developer Sentiment Barometer shows how developers perceive major platforms in terms on reaching users, generating revenues, cost of development and other factors. Android disappoints the most at generating revenue, iOS is perceived negatively when it comes to the cost of development and learning curve but it is better seen due to its reach and ability to generate revenue, while Windows Phone still needs to get more market share:

image

This year’s VisionMobile survey asked developers how much money they make with their mobile apps. Some reported that they make no money selling apps while a good number across four major platforms make less than $500/app/month. When they do make more money, excluding the top 5% of developers, most of them come from BlackBerry followed by iOS and Android and a distant Windows Phone, as shown below:

image

When comparing revenue models it is interesting that the most popular ones bring the least money:

Revenue Model Popularity Revenue/app/month
Pay-per-download 34% $2,451
Advertising 33% $1,498
In-app purchase 19% $3,033
Freemium (free download-pay to upgrade) 18% $1,865
Subscriptions 12% $3,683

Another insightful metric is the cost for developing applications, iOS being the most expensive and BlackBerry the cheapest:

image

The VisionMobile Developer Economics 2012 survey contains more information on the developer ecosystem, the revenue/costs ratio, mobile application marketing, and localization. As with other surveys, this one needs to be taken with a grain of salt. While it covered a good number of developers distributed globally, the survey reached a certain audience through an online website and its results may not accurately reflect the reality. The numbers could be close, at least drawing a course-grained picture.

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