This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Develop in the Cloud, sponsored by AT&T. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Develop in the Cloud site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

US Developers Are Getting Younger

Median age is declining in the US, but not in the rest of the world.

The demographics of the developer community are trending younger in the US as more young people turn to mobile-device development. Apple's iOS especially attracts teenaged, and younger, developers.

The median age of developers in the US declined from a peak of 46 in 2008 to 38 today, according to Evens Data's recently released Global Developer Survey, as reported in eWeek. (The median is the age at which half of the population is younger and half older.) The decline is the result of a youth influx combined with older developers leaving the scene, some as a result of early retirement and recession-fueled layoffs.

While the median age is declining, the mean has held steady at 44 years of age. The mean is the numerical average of the ages of all those in the population. This divergent trend of median and mean results from a relatively small number of much older developers holding up the numbers.

The US median age has now dropped below that of the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, which stands at 39. The Latin America and Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions are both younger, with medians of 35 and 34 respectively.

The median age is relatively unchanged outside of the US, indicating that the influx of young people into the world of development is not happening to the same extent in other regions.

Young Apple developers
The Wall Street Journal has a profile of some of the teenaged developers who attended Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last month, titled "App Developers Who Are Too Young to Drive." Apple opened the conference to 13- to 17-year-olds for the first time this year, and supplied 150 of them with scholarships to cover the registration fee. The Journal's report features an 8th-grader, Paul Dunahoo, president of Bread and Butter Software LLC, whose six productivity apps have been downloaded 2 million times, netting him around $8,000.

A California company called ID Tech Camps runs computer-themed summer camps around the country for kids as young as 7 years old; this summer they will teach 6 app-building courses to 2,500 students, up 70 percent from the year before, according to the Journal.

Developers prefer working on Apple's iOS over Android by a factor of more than 2-to-1, according to research from Flurry Analytics. One reason for this is because for every dollar a developer earns from Apple's App Store, s/he would earn 24 cents from Google's Android marketplace, Google Play. Another factor is Apple's dominance in the tablet market, which provides a larger potential customer base for developers' tablet apps. These economic and market factors apply to developers of all ages, so it stands to reason that younger developers too are preferentially writing to Apple's SDK.