Indie application developers are facing potential extinction

March 6, 2013
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android launchers smartphones

One aspect that we as consumers constantly overlook is how hard the developers of our favorite applications work to keep us happy. Generally speaking, the primary reason people are drawn to Android in the first place is because of the wide selection of devices to choose from.

 

Unfortunately, it is this aspect that is making things difficult for indie application developers. To put things into perspective, the analytics firm Flurry states that if a developer hopes to be able to support 80 percent of all devices, then he or she would have to support 156 devices. This can be an incredibly daunting task for a small developing company or a single-person developing company.

Smartphone use has been absolutely exploding recently. It has gotten to the point where the number of different device models are vast and confusing. According to Flurry, there were 2,130 different device models active in January, while 500 of those models were sporting at least 175,000 users. Keep in mind that these numbers are for all mobile operating systems, not just Android. These numbers are a sign of just how popular this business is becoming and unfortunately, making it harder and harder for small and independent developers to get their software supported on a wide range of devices.

Flurry device models

The problem is that as a developer, you must first choose which operating system(s) you want to code for. Unfortunately, in some cases, even choosing a specific operating system will still require you to make some tough decisions as to which specific devices to support. This is because you will have to deal with a variety of different hardware specifications, screen sizes, software versions, and even different forms of input. As a result, indie developers are sometimes forced to allow the installation of their applications on devices that could be unsupportive. This will leave them vulnerable to bad user reviews and consequently, damaged reputations.

The only way to remedy this issue is for the developer to buy expensive devices to properly test his or her applications on. This of course is very difficult if the developer isn’t linked to a corporation.

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The truth is, if the developer is an average Joe working from his home to try and live on his or her developing income, then he or she will never be able to compete with the enormous spending capacity that some developing corporations have at their disposal. Android is unfortunately the biggest headache for developers.

If you are an iOS developer, you stand to make more money than Android because on average, iOS users spend more time actually using their applications than Android users do. Additionally, you only have to develop for 3 different screen sizes on iOS, with the hardware only changing about once a year. As a result, it is very easy for a single person to actively maintain a solid developing career.

However, on Android, there are literally an infinite number of possibilities that the developer will potentially have to address. So what do you guys think? Do you think that a single person developing a popular application is possible? Or will we start to see wealthy corporations overtake indie developers? Additionally, is Android to blame for this issue?

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