If you’re a mobile app developer, you know that you’re confronting a crowded, difficult market in 2020. Apple’s App Store and Google Play continue to fill with apps, making discoverability a huge issue (what else is new?). And although the world’s biggest companies have infinite money to throw behind promoting their apps, most companies are restricted in their marketing spend—making it that much more difficult to transform an app into a success.
With all that in mind, it’s worth taking a moment to examine the actual shape of the mobile market this year. Fortunately, App Annie has an interesting breakdown: Consumer and mobile ad spend will hit $380 billion, with gaming alone totaling $100 billion across all app stores.
The average consumer spends 3.7 hours per day on their device—up 10 percent year-over-year, and up 35 percent since 2017. Some 50 percent of that time is spent on social and communications apps such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Facebook’s various social properties. Retail and “fintech” firms also enjoyed significant gains, with developers for those firms figuring out better ways to translate services into mobile UI/UX.
Mobile App Developer: Breaking In
Given the growth in mobile apps, it should come as no surprise that opportunities to work as a mobile developer will only increase in coming years. Burning Glass, which compiles and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, estimates that mobile app developer jobs will grow 30.7 percent over the next decade. The firm also estimates the median salary for mobile app developers at $103,805 (analyst firm Robert Half, meanwhile, pegs the median salary for a mobile app developer at $141,000 per year).
Which skills do mobile app developers actually need? If you’re interested in working with iOS, the operating system for the iPhone and iPad, then you’ll absolutely need to know Swift and Objective-C, the programming languages for it. Curious about working with Android? Better learn Java and Kotlin.
In addition, many employers put an emphasis on “soft skills” such as communication and teamwork, given how mobile developers must work with multiple stakeholders (including cloud engineers and marketing folks) in order to successfully launch an app. Here’s Burning Glass’s breakdown of the top-requested skills for mobile app developers, based on job postings:
And here are the top states for mobile app developers, as broken down by salary. California takes the top spot, which is natural given the concentration of tech companies in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego (not to mention all the state’s non-tech companies that need mobile apps built). Across the country, though, it’s clear that mobile app developers can earn pretty generous salaries, provided they have the right mix of skills and experience:
And if you want more data on the general state of the mobile app economy as we head deeper into the year, take a gander at this nifty infographic that App Annie prepared: