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.

App Developers Look Like This

The community is on average older and more employed than you might have thought.

The average app developer turns out to be a 33-year-old employed male from North America with a college degree.

That's the conclusion of a study (PDF) just released by the Application Developers Alliance and GigaOM. It cuts against the stereotype of the young guy building the next killer app after his day job or between classes.

Age, gender, and education
The app devel­opment game is overwhelmingly male: 94 percent to be exact. Two-thirds fall in the age range from 25 to 44. Twenty percent are under age 25, and only 3 percent under 18. Over 70 percent have a college degree. Almost half of that number, 33 percent of the total, have pursued some graduate study.


A plurality of app devel­opers, 39 percent, work full-time at it. Nearly as many, 36 percent of the total, work at app devel­opment part-time while holding down another job. One in five work on apps part-time as part of a full-time job.

Company size and location
Two thirds of app devel­opers work alone or in firms of 2 or 3 people, and almost 1 in 5 are in a 10+ person firm. Over half (54 percent) are in North America, 21 percent in Western Europe, and 14 percent in the Asia-Pacific region.


Income from app devel­opment varies widely. Probably because many solo devel­opers consider their work as a "project" rather than a "product," over 45 percent of those responding to a question about income reported less that $15,000 per year. Over one-third (36 percent) said they bring in more than $50,000 annually, and one in 6 reports over $100,000 in income from app devel­opment. (Of the total survey population, 25 percent declined to answer this question.)

Three quarters of app devel­opers have been at it more than a year, and just over half have put in two years or more. Almost a third (30 percent) have clocked three or more years. This relatively mature and experienced workforce will be progressively diluted as more and more people enter the field with the introduction of ever-simpler devel­opment tools.

Changes coming
Among the changes app developers can expect to their field will be a greater demand for business-oriented apps, as opposed to consumer-facing ones, which have represented the bulk of the work to date. The center of gravity will shift from smartphone apps towards tablet apps as more tablets are adopted in businesses of all kinds. The report outlines the emerging field of apps written for TV platforms such as Google TV and Samsung TV, which engage only 11 percent of app developers at present.

The Web-based study was fielded in the summer of this year and had 352 respondents. Its conclusions should be considered suggestive rather than definitive.