Windows Phone a target of more than 1/4 of app developers, despite market share

It's not easy to make it as an app developer. That's the key takeaway from the latest State of the Developer Nation report from Vision Mobile, pulling together data from more than 10,000 mobile developers (including some of you) across 137 countries. With that many developers they were able to get a broad view of what's popular and (more importantly) what's successful in making great apps.

When it comes to mindshare among developers, it's no surprise that Android and iOS lead the pack, with 70% of developers targeting the former and 51% the latter. Windows Phone pulls up a strong third place with 28% (and modern-style Windows 8 apps at 18%). 15% of developers are coding for the mobile web, and 11% for BlackBerry 10.

The strength of iOS isn't surprising, even if its global marketshare of 16% pales next to the explosive growth of Android at 79%. What is surprising is the strength of Windows Phone, commanding the attention of more than a quarter of developers while having a global marketshare in the low single digits.

When it comes to the programming languages of choice, a full 42% of developers use HTML5 in their development — but only a third of those are meant for the web. Java, the primary language for Android, nabbed 38% of developers, cross-platform-friendly language C/C++ 26%, iOS-only Objective-C 24%, and cross-platform-friendly-but-best-on-Windows C# at 23%.

That nearly a quarter of developers are using C# — roughly as many are on Android and iOS combined as are for Windows Phone (where C# holds a 63% share) — which shows that Microsoft's plans to reorganize around platforms and services hold some potential for success in mobile.

The most popular languages for Windows Phone app developers:

  • C#: 63%
  • Visual App Builder: 16%
  • C/C++: 8%
  • HTML/CSS/JavaScript: 8%

When it comes to the tools that developers use, that ad networks clock in as the top add-on tool with 30% of developers is no shock. Cloud services are next at 29%, push notifications and cross-platform tools both at 24%, and user analytics and beta testing both at 21%. Confoundingly, 27% of those developing with cross-platform tools have only deployed their apps to a single platform.

When it comes to income, making money off apps is not the easiest of things to do. Half of iOS developers and 64% of Android developers make less than $500 per app per month, and nearly a quarter of all developers make no money whatsoever. And if you were hoping to make it big with an app, know that just 1.6% of developers reported earnings of over $500,000 a month, and most of those were likely developers associated with large development houses (especially those that produce games with loads of in-app purchases).

That only a third of iOS developers make less than $100/app/month compared to half of Android developers and even larger shares on Windows Phone and BlackBerry helps to explain that outsized influence that iOS app development has on the wider global development community. There's potential in the smaller platforms, but developers are at large targeting the more lucrative market versus the larger market.

When it comes to enterprise apps, that's where the real money is. Two-thirds of developers are targeting consumers, but the 16% that target enterprise users directly are twice as likely to be earning over $5000 per app per month, and three times as likely to be over $25,000/app/month. Of course, those apps also typically require substantial investment to build, so there's a trade-off.

Sure, that's a big chunk of data, but it's just a nugget of the numbers from the Developer Economics report. If you're a developer, or considering being a developer, it's definitely something you should check out. Let us know what you think!

Source: Developer Economics

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

102 Comments
  • That's what I'm talking about!!
    ..........
    There's just more opportunities on WP ironically because of the small market share.... Less competition people!!!!... HTC take note!!!
    ..........
    Wait, Sony, HTC, LG, and especially Motorola take note....
  • Oh is that what you were talking about this whole time? Smh?
  • Smhid❕❕❕❕
  • Well never thought and went in this deep details of developers developing apps for various platforms (thier incomes interest and sub head ofmost used tools) .!!! Geez this info is interesting :)
  • I spent more money on WP platform more than other OS that I use simply because:
    1)the apps selection is small, and I can easily find the most worthy app among others and 2)I don't know about Android and iOS but as far as I am aware, WP is the only modern OS that allows carrier billing in my country. Having job in one of major carrier that support this payment method, I'm able to spend my monthly available credit on purchasing apps and in game items since my actual usage on call and sms is pretty small.
      p/s: To the developer of Clash of Clans; if you read this please consider porting your game to WP. 
  • Check out a game call of arena. Probably the closest you're going to get. Fun game though been playing for months now
  • Exactly. There's much more opportunity and growth with Windows Phone, which is why I'm trying to get coding down to a science BEFORE that happens.
  • You dont need to know how to code to create an app.
  • This may seem naive, but how would one create an app fit for a market with no coding/development skills? I assumed the process would happen like this: Idea> planning >create > sell
  • Templates and tutorials are available, so basically anyone with a positive IQ can do it. I've created a WP camera app when I was in school and I had no idea what visual studio was before that. Now you have to have good coding skills to design and implement a good and useful app. Posted via WPCentral App.
  • The comment read "you don't need to know how to code to create an app" I wanted to know how he got an app created if it wasn't created by his knowledge of coding. If there is funding or people who will help to get an developed, I'd really like some info (I'm being lazy/stubborn really, and I feel time isn't on my side)
  • Lol!!.. A positive IQ.. That's hilarious❕❕
  • Yes, if you want a mediocre app. But with the versatility of C# (and my new copy of Visual Studio 2013), I believe this is a vital skill to learn. And with Windows Phone and RT merging, this is even more important.
  • Hello, sorry if I take any of your time, but you seem very competent, can I please have a laymans term style run down of the process you'd recommend for me to eventually publish an app to the store. Thank you in advance if you can take some time to reply
  • You will need access to a developer's account through Microsoft to post your own versions of apps for both the Windows Store (Windows 8, 8.1, RT, etc.) and the Windows Phone Store (7.x, 8, 8.1, etc.). The process must be renewed every year, and requires an app built based on the merits of JavaScript, C/C++, C# (most versatile way, IMHO), or HTML5. Visual Studio Express software (free download on Microsoft's site) and the Windows Phone 8.0 SDK should help you out here. Download and install all these pieces of software to a Windows 8 machine (or virtual machine like Fusion on a Mac) to begin coding. There are also MANY tutorials on how to create apps on Microsoft's Virtual Academy web site (also free) using various programming languages. Hope this helps. (This is what I've been doing as I find time.)
  • Thanks ever so much, I'm working with Lumia 1020, 7 year old PC that is on it's last legs and a Surface RT that I assumed would have been worth it, but was a bad choice, thanks again and I'll seek you out of my shop ever appears in the store :P
  • +WP
  • Ho.... That's great......*sarcasm*
  • 3% of the device market share but 28% of developers? I'd say that's pretty great.
  • And, that's exactly what other developers need to jump onboard... They follow the crow just like everyone else...
  • The crow flies above all and sees all....he must be followed in order to share enlightenment :P
  • Lol! What?
  • And only 5% of the apps, the developers don't seem to be making any apps, or apps worth having. Hopefully, WP8.1 rollout will cause a load of universal apps to be created. I only really want to buy universal apps going forward.
  • Or in other words, 3 out 4 developers don't even bother with Windows Phone when they release new apps.   It's no wonder Windows Phone still has an abysmal ecosystem 4 years later.
  • True story
  • Hopefully the market share continues to increase.
  • Just give us the Cyan update ...so its easier for developers to make more productive apps..
  • How the hell can a firmware update helps developers to make apps? Lol ☹
  • Because everyone isn't in Developer Preview.. And the API in Windows Phone 8.1 is Great, and simpler for developers
  • Two main features missing on wp 8 are audio and video attachment. While in wp 8.1 developers have access to files and folders.
  • I feel u on that
  • Impossible, they just cancelled the greatest phone in the history of phones ever, how can this beeeeeeeee? /s
  • Like I've said... This phone really never actually existed outside of MS... Companies scrap prototypes all of the time.... And, its not like MS ever officially announced this device in the first place... If it was so great then it wouldn't have been allegedly cancelled.... So, the question is what was so great?... MS wouldn't admit to it even existing, so we should forget about it, and not look at it as a negative, a failed device, which some of you are doing... Rather just an internal project that never saw the light of day, which happens at Samsung, Google, and Apple just as much..........
  • Exactly ! it was internal project  I'm pretty sure WP team have done a lot of things but kept them internal, McLaren was one of them
  • They said other WP flagships coming soon anyways.
  • Yeah, I'd rather it be killed off than be released as a gimmicky half-arsed mess.  I mean, Kinect is really neat, but does anyone actually use it?  Does it really work all that well?  Is it a unit-moving differentiator?  Like you said, companies scrap prototypes all the time, and since there was little to nothing actually known about this device, how can we really mourn it?  Just give us an update on a Lumia 1030 so everyone can move on.  :o)
  • Where can I find the background image of the windows phone in the photo? The green one.
  • It's created from the app PolyScreen, I believe.
  • You shouldn't look, my friend... Be original❕
  • That's an HTC Sense 6 wallpaper --- I currently use it on my HTC One M7. You can find all of them here: http://imgur.com/a/e6vQ8
  • Thanks TheCudder, is the same image, very nice. Thanks
  • theme+ i think
  • Hi Derek Kessler. You can share the background of the Lumia? I want this background,please
  • Look at TheCudder's post two posts above yours :)
  • that's nice. hope we'll get even more official apps soon
  • 28%of developers but still we lack a lot behind in apps .
  • We need better support of apps. Not bombardment of apps
  • I need to learn C#, I just wanna make $2k a month. Too much to ask?
    Of course a quality app is needed.
  • Not at all. I'm a single-man independent development company and pull in a regular salary. Just make something great and maintain it.
  • You mean you got a regular paying job and develop apps as a hobby, or make apps for a living? I'm curious, really - thinking of jumping in to get some extra cash. I'm an R&D engineer, I have skills and love the platform. I will love it more if I can profit from it :D
  • What I'm not getting is, why one would choose HTML5 over C# and XAML. I think that this is much more work and that it's kinda messy, and they're slower than C# or C++, that's what I have seen on the apps that were written in html. Well, but these are some interesting numbers, and 1/3 isn't bad for Windows.
  • They choose html5 as web apps are easier to use nd they able to make internet app which we use all the time like in facebook
  • I want to become a Windows Phone App Developer.  I have great ideas, deep understanding of the human mind/design/UX etc, where do I begin!
  • Try the free Microsoft app development courses for windows platforms.... You can start from scratch ...
  • Great!! do you have a link?
  • http://appstudio.windows.com/en-us/home/howto ..... This is actually the basic startup.... But I saw another link I try to search for it
  • Thank you :)
  • Do you know a Great deal about code? ;)
  • Hehe.. I own an IT company and have access to Devs worldwide, I did a CS degree at uni and know C++ although very rusty!  My gf is a Java Developer and all my mates are IT.
  • Look for Bob Tabor videos on Channel9 (there is even an app) or sign up for Microsoft Virtual Academy.
  • Thanks!   Watch this space! next year I will have an outstanding app with everyones input of course :)
  • As an iOS developer myself, I think it's hard to justify spending hours making an WP version of an app just for the ~3% market share it has. I mean, just WHY BOTHER?!? :-P
    I also think that a big chunk of that 28% does not comprise of "active develeopers", that is, they know C#, they CAN make apps for WP, but not necessarily they do. I could be wrong, but I don't think so! :-P
  • If you were wrong, how would you know?
  • As a retailer myself, I think it's hard to justify spending hours and money to open stores in New York City just for the under 3% of the US population it has.  I mean, just WHY BOTHER?!? :-P
  • It could be a nice argument, but you yourself know that it doesn't work that way! ;-)
  • Actually, it does work that way.  WP users spend more per capita on apps than Android users -- a lot more.  The average WP app customer is a big-spending customer.  The Windows Phone Store stats, as well as those from major developers like Dropbox, confirm this. If you want to ignore tens of millions of big-spending underserved customers to chase after the same space where every other marginal player is getting ignored (and thus seeing little to no uptake), that's your choice.  But it's not necessarily an economically-rewarding choice.  If you're after revenue, ignoring big-spending customers is not a smart idea. You're choosing to trade in prime real estate in Times Square for two dozen locations in suburban strip malls.
  • Touché
  • And here's the deal.  You can make all the iOS apps you want.  I for one will never know about it or even care.  Because I have zero interest in iOS.  But for those who want to spend a few hours to develop for WP at least I'll give them a try if I see something that peaks my interest.  So you're right no need to bother.  But I'm glad to see for an OS you're not interested in you actually visited a site specifically for WP just to inform us.  Looks like you're interested to me or why else would you spend your precious time commenting when you could be developing those out of this world iOS apps.  ;)
  • Now, don't get me wrong here, my development work is my "career", as a consumer, I am interested in all things tech, I even visit crackberry daily, and use a Nexus 5! :-)
  • I think the main point here is less competition. With "small marketshare" in mind, main and big developers wouldn't take a look to WP as you stated. But with indie developers, this like a charming platform, either for fame or money. Take a look at some apps on WP right now, what happened if users couldn't find "exactly" the same official app and they don't want to jump just because of that app? Especially when the official big developers keep their mind and ignore this platform. Well, of course you will face with some copyright problems, but Rudy still has his name around this forum, right? Less app in store also means that more chance for your app to be used and reviewed, and if you keep on upgrading your apps then at some points, other platforms will take notice. Just imagine what will happen to Fantasia Painter if they release their app on Android/iOS only at this time? Can it compete with bigger and more popular names which are already crowed in these platforms? Now just go to Fantasia you can see bunch of people are crying loud to beg the app go to Android/iOS. Just my theory, well, in fact, it's what I'd do if I wanted to release an app :) More chance for me, less competition then the 3% or marketshare is more than enough to build my brand or money.
  • Those are some good points you make. But most devs don't really think that way, it takes time and effort to properly learn making apps, and after learning, get expert enough to make good apps for a platform. So one newbie dev usually focuses on one/two platforms at first, and not many want to start with WP because neither there is enough resource on the net, nor there is much "appeal". And those who are experts and make a living developing softwares, don't usually have the time/energy to port their apps to the "barely living" platforms like WP. So you see the issue here is a bit like this, the new devs don't want to learn WP, and the experts don't have time for developing for WP!  
  • If some devs want to forego revenue in Windows Phone's large market of big spenders to try and chase success in a larger market with fewer big spenders, that's their perogative.  It's just going to increase the proportion of "iOS and Android developers who make less than $500 a month on their apps." :) The evidence of this is getting pretty significant -- not only the total Store sales figures across the three ecosystems, but also the fact that criticism of the Windows Phone ecosystem is broiling down to "it only has six of the top 10 Apple apps," which sounds better than "it's missing iFart and the Kim Kardashian game app," which is closer to the truth and rather embarrassing. With Android taking over the world, it's unlikely that developers in that ecosystem will make much money (if any at all) from app store sales.  Piracy and "free apps" are rampant there, and their userbase -- despite being large -- doesn't like to pay for premium content.  A giant userbase of freeloaders ain't a great prospect versus a "much smaller" base of paying customers.
  • This.
  • I smell excuses in you..
    No disrespect.
  • Oh cool! I never knew Android or iOS did not have Fantasia, its such a wonderful app. I like the cloning feature it has.
  • WP is going to steal the Zeus cup from world players soon... With the current rate of developer support and more to come.... But if Microsoft stress a little more on marketing their products better there is a clear winner...
  • What I Zeus cup
  • What cup I Jesus
  • We've got Live Tiles Dammit!!!
  • I can't go back to a static OS. WP has spoiled me.
  • I think 28% is due to C#, lot of developers know this language so they can build WP apps. They may not be involved actively in the development.
  • +1
    C# is popular among devs mainly because it is the main development language of Windows OS (the desktop one that is!).
  • False. For desktop the main language has always been C/C++ - only using C/C++ lets you create the most sophisticated applications. C# at best is used at representation layer in some. I would say the Visual Studio is too good and devs love using it.
  • Hey wait I forgot!WP central you are still missing another potential phone or maybe a tablet-lumia 2020 which you guys said that it was under testing in India.
  • great news! :)
  • Nice to hear :)
  • So true, I spent money to buy worthy apps, which I found many on WP store.
  • I need an app idea.  Dang.
  • I have app ideas but not much coding skill, Dang.
  • I can code. Just can't come up with app ideas.
  • For those of you have have any amount money from apps, how are you paid?  Do you get a check?  Direct deposit?  Paypal?  Credits toward something?
  • I asked a lot of companies based in the UK on Twitter if they had any plans to support Windows Phone or Windows 8 and the responce was either "We will pass this request on to the relevent department" or "no plans at this time" which does suck a lot.
  • I recently changed banks and brokerages as a result of not supporting Windows Phone.  When the distraught asset manager asked me why, I told him. If you'll open a $4.5 million branch to support a town with 40,000 people, but won't spend $1 million to develop a decent Windows Phone app for the millions of WP users, it tells me you don't get it, and I don't want you managing my money. When my bank/brokerage said "but under 6% of people in the USA use Windows Phone," I replied "OK, so if 6% of your customers all left abruptly, would that concern you?"  Got a blank stare and then a "I see your point." If every Windows Phone user voted with their feet and moved their business to the competition, it would be noticeable right off the bat. It's 2014.  If you can't bother supporting my entire software and hardware ecosystem with your solutions, you're not a good partner for me, and I'm gonna move ALL my money.
  • Yes,I vote with my feet too. Google does not support me, I stop using them. Give me an app, I will change my business and support you.
  • I noticed in the picture each phone has it's respective MN app on it (Crackberry, Android Central, etc.) lol.
  • Lol. Good call.
  • Story
  • There should be a web app store that runs on any touchscreen device on any os or platform. Buy once, it works on all devices you own. Apps and games can be cache for offline use. So developers can target cross-platform and only need to code 1 app. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • This is good
  • While Daniel's article focuses on the devs who are feeding our hungry WP devices, this website has some interesting information about smartphone user stats, including which countries use the most apps, which types of apps are used, etc: http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/e#ratingappstores BTW, did you know that one of the key differences between the WP store and the Google store? WP ranks apps according to user satisfaction/reviews while the Google store ranks by downloads only? So an Android app dev can publish a piece of crAPP and if he/she can promote it well enough to get users to download it (even if they uninstall it 10 minutes later), they can become the top ranking app on Google. In the WP store, you don't get that slot by talking a good game, you get that slot by delivering a good game. One stat I haven't been able to find: how many cell phone users are under age 18? Recently, Apple had to refund millions to parents whose kids bought apps/music (my older daughter got a $250 refund and my granddaughter got her account locked down), and Amazon is being sanctioned for allowing in-app purchases by minors. According to Consumer Reports, here in the US, 60% of kids between 8-12 years old had cell phones, 27% of them had smartphones (2012). That percentage undoubtedly goes higher as kids get older until it rivals the 91% adult user stat. So let's assume that users under 18 do not have any purchasing power here. How many potential buyers does that eliminate for Google? Apple? WP? Given that kids want a phone like their friends have... that would be Android or Apple phones. So when counting market share, don't assume that every user is a qualified app buyer.
  • This only covers original content, and not, say contract work, like most service (like bank) apps.
  • Noice