More Smartphones, More Apps Mean More Mobile Developer Jobs

By Chandler
Harris

When
Apple reported it had sold 2.5 billion iPhone applications worth $4.2 billion
in 2009, it made clear the market for mobile applications is booming. Add to
that Gartner’s prediction that 21.6 billion iPhone apps worth $29.5 billion
will be sold in 2013 and you have a mobile application market that many are looking
on as a gold rush. 

Smartphone developersThe rapid rise of the iPhone and competitors like Google Android,
Blackberry and Palm Pre, as well as the release of the iPad, has created something
of a micro-economy for mobile apps. Developers in the space made more than $2
billion in 2009, and should make around $10.5 billion in 2014, according to consulting
firm Frost and Sullivan.

“When
you increase revenue five times in five years, obviously this will create a
very large market for developers in this space,” says Todd Day, industry
analyst in the mobile and wireless communications practice at Frost and
Sullivan. “I think the market is wide open and a really interesting place
for somebody with programming experience and entrepreneurial drive.”

Developers are needed to create apps for the major application storefronts of Apple, Android and other phone operating systems, as well as for other businesses and phone manufacturers, Day says.

Where the Jobs Are

Many –
maybe even most – companies are coming to grips with the need to create a
presence and services on mobile platforms. For instance, 78 percent of airlines
intend to adapt their websites to work on mobile phones by 2012, according to
SITA, a company that specializes in solutions for airline companies.

“We view (mobile application development) as a high-growth
area for both developers and businesses, as companies turn to these
applications as an important conduit for business and services,” says Kurt
Daniel
, chief operating officer of WorkLight,
which provides mobile
application development services. “It’s clear
that the smartphone category is driving mobile innovation, thereby increasing
the need for highly-specialized mobile developers.” 

The demand for mobile apps has helped WorkLight grow its staff from 20 in 2009 to 30 this year.
It expects to have more than 40 people on-board next year.
Daniels
sees the mobile app industry as a “three-horse race,” with the
majority of WorkLight¿s customers seeking apps for the iPhone, Android and
Blackberry.

Since
most mobile OS platforms use different programming language, developers often
need to be specialized in one language or skilled in multiple programming
languages. Specialization includes knowing Objective C and Xcode for iPhone,
Java for Android, HTML, CSS and Java for Blackberry, C# and .NET for Windows
mobile and C/C++ for Palm.

Other
important skills sets WorkLight looks for are proficiency in Eclipse,
VisualBasic IDEs and relevant developer plug-ins. Also, developers need to
understand not only how to create apps, but how to install, manage, maintain
and improve them. 

Good Times for Growth

The demand
for mobile applications has helped Endeavor Software Technologies grow by 75
percent each year for the past three years. The company, which provides mobile
consulting, technology and outsourcing, isn’t only looking for computer science
graduates and software engineers with solid understanding of mobile platforms,
but developers experienced in designing visual backgrounds for mobile devices.

Jobs in
mobile apps also extend to phone hardware and software manufacturers. Google
has more than 20,000 developers writing software applications for the Android
phone, which went from zero apps in 2007 to more than 27,000 currently. Apple,
Microsoft and Nokia have developers working in-house as well.

Even
mobile phone producers such as HTC, which produces the Android and Microsoft’s
Windows mobile phone, employ engineers that develop software for phone-user
experience and create tools for independent developers to use.

“Apps
as a whole are becoming a very important piece of smartphone development,”
says Keith Nowak, senior public relations manager at HTC.
“We’re
seeing a lot of traditional companies developing mobile apps, as well as
technology companies.” 

Chander Harris is a business and technology
writer in California.

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