Vision Mobile’s Mobile Developer Economics 2010

visionmobile.gifIf you haven’t done so already, I’d take a look at Vision Mobile’s Mobile Developer Economics 2010 sponsored by Telefonica.

One thing I should say is that the term ‘developers’ is a bit misleading in all of this. Mobile developers are driven (employed by) by handset OEMs, carriers, companies, brands, marketing agencies etc. so the economic insights of the Visionmobile survey speak as much for the industry as a whole as they do for individual developer impressions.

On my first quick read through I started to connect a few things together. On the addressable Market and monetisation, the research showed…

"Developers care more about addressable market and monetisation potential than any single technical aspect of a platform."

yet…

"… felt that the best aspect of their platform was the large market penetration, even if the actual market penetration was relatively small."

Leading on from this, there’s a disparity between the device installed base and the number of available apps for each platform. The apps that have greatest installed base have the fewest applications and vice versa. Developers have flocked onto the new platforms resulting in huge competition and low revenues…

"The dubious long-tail economics are reinforced by our findings on developer revenue expectations. Only five percent of the respondents reported very good revenues, above their expectations"

Now, developers say the…

"key challenge reported by mobile developers is the lack of effective marketing channels to increase application exposure and discovery"

My thought is that while more success might come through better marketing and exposure, this can’t happen for all (or even a large number of) developers. There’s a limited number of consumers on each platform that have a finite amount of time (and sometimes money) looking for apps.

I question what will happen with the even newer platforms: MeeGo, Symbian^4, Windows Phone 7 and Bada. Will developers stay away because they have been burnt (financially) by iPhone and Android or will they move to them because of the poor long tail revenue opportunities on iPhone and Android? Is there a finite audience for mobile apps (or at least people who want to spend money on them) and has this already been served (and targeted) by the iPhone?