Mobile development

It’s already been an exciting week for those with an idea and thinking about starting out in mobile development.  Apple and Strategy Analytics have both made announcements that demonstrate the continuing growth and strength of the mobile market.


Apple Q1 earnings

On Monday, in the US, Apple released its Q1 earnings.  The stand out number in this for mobile app developers, was its announcement that in the quarter it paid out $2billion to developers.  Continuing the upward trend, that’s a record for the first quarter result, and perhaps more excitingly is three to four times what it paid to developers in the same period last year.

For all the stories about increasing competition in the app stores and how hard it is for new apps to be discovered, it must be remembered that the actual financial returns when discovered are growing at a terrific rate.  As for discoverability, whilst search in the app stores is imperfect, it’s not easy for a new web app to be discovered either – with it taking many months of hard work (content marketing, relationship (no, I don’t mean link building, I mean real relationships) and press relations efforts) to climb to the top in organic rankings (with anywhere off the first page, effectively nowhere).  So, it’s hard to consider mobile apps as worse off than web apps, rather it’s just not as easy to succeed as it was on the App Store’s launch in 2008.

The real impact of more competition, is less in the fact that it’s harder to be discovered, and more the fact that it’s now imperative  that you make a great app.  You need to design something that provides a unique and valuable experience to the user, so valuable that they’ll return to it often (ideally once or more a day!) and refer it to a friend (the seed of viral growth – the holy grail of marketing).

It’s exactly these things that we teach on the Course, and if you haven’t already, I’d urge you to learn more by signing up for a Free trial today.

Strategy Analytics

The stand out number released by Strategy Analytics this week, was that just under 1 Billion (990 million) smartphones were sold globally in 2013.  This represents growth of 41% over 2012, when 700 million shipments were made.  When you consider that the world’s current population in 7billion people, and that only half of those have internet connection, it’s a truly remarkable number.

Assuming a 2 year product ownership cycle (as encouraged by manufactures and cell phone companies alike), this suggests that at least 1 in 2 people with an internet connection, now have a smartphone (with total smartphones sales of 1.69billion in the last 2 years).  Considering that the actual lifecycle of smartphones can be much longer (both my parents are still running iPhone 4), the likelihood is that the number of smartphone owners is actually much greater.

The other confirmed trend (the Report didn’t produce any revelations, was more confirmatory of what we’ve been saying for a while) was the continued impressive growth of Samsung, which shipped 319.8 million smartphones in 2013 – more than double the number of iPhones (153 million) that Apple shipped.

Indeed, the analyst group’s executive director, Neil Mawston stated this was:

“the largest number of units shipped by a smartphone vendor in a single year”

As for Apple’s future, somewhat foreshadowed by last week’s announcement that the iPhone 4 would be sold in India, Mawston noted:

“Apple remains strong in the high-end smartphone segment, but a lack of presence in the low-end category is costing it lost volumes in fast-growing emerging markets such as India”

As a mobile app developer, you shouldn’t be too concerned by this trend.  Rather, you should consider it when being wooed by Android’s tremendous user growth – many of those users remain unlikely to be making significant app purchases.

What’s clear from Strategy Analytics Report is that the smartphone is now well down the path of killing the mobile phone – with Nokia’s mobile phone shipments falling from 335.6million sales in 2012, to 252.4million sales last year (or 25%).  Whilst Nokia’s Windows Phones are performing relatively well, and indeed look set to be the third player in the smartphone market, these sales are being dwarfed by the decline in the traditional handset market.

So with app and smartphone sales both continuing to record the strong double digit growth we’ve been predicting, now remains a great time to enter the mobile development market.  Start on a Free trial of our Course today.



Nicholas Wright wrote on

Nicholas is a co-founder and CEO of AppInstruct. Nic is actively involved in the start-up space, mentoring other founders with mobile, fundraising and legal advice. Nic's favorite app is WhatsApp, which allows him to remain in contact with family in America and England.