Mobile Development Job Trends – April 2011

As many of you know, I tend to write about programming job trends every few months in different development segments. So, it was with much interest that I was pointed to a Wall Street Journal article regarding the shallow mobile app talent pool. I am not going to debate the benefits of mobile operating system applications over generic HTML applications, as that is not the point. The point here is to go into my typical analysis of the job trends, while including a few more data points than the WSJ article included.

Given that this is a new job trends category, I did a little digging into the various mobile operating systems. The terms included were iPhone, Android, WP7 or “Windows Phone“, BlackBerry, Symbian and WebOS. This hits most of the major mobile operating systems without digging too deep into the past. I also checked for noise in the job listings, and I found very few listings that were not for mobile development in these searches. If anything, BlackBerry had the most noise due to the various BlackBerry server administration jobs that were listed, but it still did not seem to have much effect on the trends.

First, let’s look at the basic job trends from Indeed:

As you can see, iPhone and Android development have already started to dominate the job trends. BlackBerry has had the lead for several years as it was the only platform where any money could really be made prior to the new smartphones. Symbian shows steady, but not great demand, and provides a good baseline of comparison for other operating systems. Windows Phone (or WP7) and WebOS have started to show some growth but need some more time to gain real adoption.

Now, let’s take a look at the short-term trends from SimplyHired:

Here, the short-term trends are a fairly close reflection of the long-term trends. There is a minor difference of whether Android has more demand than BlackBerry, but Android growth is faster and will quickly surpass the BlackBerry in the near future anyway. Again, Symbian provides the baseline and Windows Phone and WebOS wait for traction. Overall, there is not much difference from the long-term trends which is not surprising given the immaturity of this industry.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the relative scaling from Indeed, which shows trends based on job growth:

I think it is obvious where the growth in job demand really is right now. iPhone demand is still exploding, which diminishes the extremely rapid growth of Android demand. To put this kind of growth into perspective, the typical programming trend graphs that I include have a maximum growth trend of about 5000%. This is such a new field that the growth can not be compared to other development segments. There is no way that the talent pool could keep up with this kind of demand given that the real money in mobile development only appeared within the past 3 years.

What does this mean for you as a developer? Well, you might want to pick up an iPhone development or Android development book. If you think Windows Phone is the next big thing, you might want to wait a few months to see how much sales and market share increase.

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