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Freelance Mobile App Developers in Demand

Demand for mobile application developers continues to grow as smart phone adoption shows no sign of slowing. In Freelancer.com's annual list of the Top 50 most-in-demand skillsets, mobile phone development ranked 19th, with 4,608 openings, up 31 percent from the previous year. 

With “post-PC device” sales outstripping that of personal computers and a slew of new models
hitting the market, the number of jobs in these areas has seen a steady increase. The demand
for mobile developers has been insatiable and will continue to grow as more businesses seek
to offer their products and services on these platforms, Freelancer.com said.

YouTube skills ranked 20th, with 1,248 jobs, a 31 percent increase. Behind that was:
Visual Basic, 1,345 jobs (+29 percent)
User Interface, 1,237 (+29 percent)
Android, 2,863 jobs, (+28 percent)
CSS, 5,579 jobs (+27 percent), and
iPhone, 4,318 jobs (+27 percent).

The continued growth of "post-PC" devices and their support of next-generation open web standards such as HTML5 has seen many businesses invest in Web 2.0 technologies such as jQuery (up 39 percen to 2,324 jobs). This has been to the detriment of older and proprietary technologies such as Flash (down 1 percent to 2,697 jobs). HTML5 (up 48 percent to 2,160 jobs) continues its ascent as the de-facto Web 2.0 standard.

Want to Sell Your Mobile App? Consider China

Total mobile application downloads for both smartphones and feature phones will reach 5.5 billion next year in China, which has the world's largest subscriber base. Expansion of China’s 3G subscriptions, which are expected to jump from 102 million in 2011 to 540 million in 2016, are driving app download growth.

“Feature phones are an important market for app developers, maintaining a large share of the app store user base over the next few years,” said ABI Research analyst Fei-Feng Seet. “Regardless of device type, successful apps in the Chinese market are those with a local look and feel and incorporate local content.”

Examples are game apps like PopCap’s “Plants vs. Zombies” and Electronic Arts’ “Need for Speed,” which has instructions in Chinese so users could easily understand the game. Halfbrick Studios launched a tailored version of “Fruit Ninja for China” that includes peaches as a new fruit and has a background image with the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. The localized app was updated five times ahead of the main English app, which was pirated.

App localization can also mean working with local partners such as Renren and Weibo, two Chinese social networking sites. Today, more than 90 percent of apps offered by China-based app stores are in Chinese and include local content.

“Pricing and payment options are critical to success in the Chinese app market,” adds vice president Jake Saunders. “Chinese consumers are very price sensitive and less willing to pay the same fees as US consumers for the same content.” To help alleviate such issues, local app stores Mobile Market, WoStore, and eStore allow developers to price apps much lower than other stores, such as Apple. They also offer mobile carrier billing or support for local online payment accounts.

Higher Salaries Forecast for Some Technical Specialties

According to salary research from Robert Half, demand for positions such as mobile application developers, data warehouse analysts, and user experience (UX) designers is expected to grow in the coming year as companies look to invest in their information technology infrastructure and digital presence.

As companies strive to reach consumers on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, they will need applications developers who can develop for the small screen. Starting salaries for mobile applications developers are projected to increase 9.1 percent to a range of $85,000 to $122,500 in the coming year, according to Robert Half.

Maintaining data has become an increasingly complex task, which is why companies need data warehouse analysts who can collect, analyze, and mine stored data. Anticipated base compensation for these professionals is expected to climb 6.7 percent to between $88,000 and $119,000 in 2012.

For UX designers, the starting pay is expected to rise 6.2 percent to a range of $71,750 to $104,000. Data security analysts can expect base salaries to rise 6 percent to between $89,000 and $121,500, and base salaries for SEO/SEM specialists with three or more years of experience are projected to increase by 6 percent, to a range of $63,750 to $87,500.

Starting salaries for network engineers are expected to rise 5.8 percent to a range of $75,000 to $107,750, and Web developers should see a 5.4 percent increade in compensation, to between $61,250 and $99,250.

Higher Salaries for Mobile Media Professionals

Continued adoption of smartphones and tablets is heightening demand for individuals with experience creating and organizing content for the small screen, according to Robert Half Technology's latest salary report. As a result, starting salaries for mobile applications developers are expected to rise 9.1 percent over 2010 levels to a range of $85,000 to $122,500.

Businesses are also seeking those who can gather and organize data and highlight what's relevant to business goals. Among the positions most in demand are business intelligence analysts, who will see a 6.3 percent increase in average starting salaries to a range of $87,750 to $123,500, according to RHT.

Data security and protection also continue to be a priority for companies, particularly in the banking and healthcare industries. Consequently, starting salaries for data security analysts are expected to increase 6 percent to a range of $89,000 to $121,500.

As firms increase their use of internal social media to facilitate collaboration and online learning, there's an increasing need for software developers, especially those with SharePoint and .NET experience, according to RHT. The base compensation for software developers is expected to rise 6.5 percent next year to a range of $70,000 to $111,000.

"The demand for professionals who can help companies take advantage of new technologies, such as mobile media or popular collaboration tools, is outpacing the supply in some cases," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "This has resulted in higher starting salaries within certain specialty areas."

Mobile Apps Development Certificate Launched

The University of California, Irvine Extension has launched a new mobile application development certificate program. The certificate program will provide participants with the skills required to create advanced applications for major mobile devices and supply the knowledge needed to stay ahead of the technology curve. Participants will learn how to effectively use application architectures for a range of wireless devices through hands-on experience, and will have the option to focus their learning by taking one of three available tracks, focused on leading mobile operating systems: Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 7. Registration for the mobile application development certificate program is taking place now.

“According to Canalys, the total revenue from mobile phone and tablet application sales will reach more than US $36 billion by 2015. As a direct result of this 61 percent increase over 2011 estimated sales, employers are actively hiring people who have the technical skills to design them. Business professionals are seeking high-quality educational content to compete effectively in this market,” said Dave Dimas, director of UC Irvine Extension’s engineering, sciences, and information technology programs.

As part of the new certificate program, two new online courses will begin this fall. A core course, “Introduction to Mobile Application Design and Development,” will focus on installing, developing, testing, and distributing mobile applications. Participants will learn about mobile application development, market opportunities, and technical requirements for iOS, Android and Mobile 7.

Instruction will begin on 26 September and run through 6 November. The second course, “Application Development for Windows Phone 7” is an elective for the “Windows Mobile 7 track” and will offer hands-on experience for developing real-life applications using the Windows Phone 7 platform. Participants will learn the basics, understand the product lifecycle, write applications, use built-in widgets and work with the data store. Instruction will begin on 3 October and run through 13 November. For more information, visit http://unex.uci.edu/certificates/it/mobile/.

Developer Interest in Android is Waning

Developer interest in Android has apparently plateaued and is shifting back to Apple amid fragmentation concerns and disappointing tablet sales, according to an April survey by Appcelerator and IDC of 2,760 Appcelerator Titanium developers.

The survey found that Apple iOS interest remains high, with 91 percent of developers saying they are "very interested" in iPhone development and 86 percent are very interested in developing for the iPad. Reported interest in Android phones fell two points to 85 percent, and Android tablets fell three points to 71 percent, after increasing 12 points in the first quarter.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that device fragmentation in Android poses the biggest risk to Android, followed by weak initial traction in tablets (30%) and multiple Android app stores (28%). However, the respondents are also concerned with fragmentation of skills (Objective-C vs. Java) and OS capabilities (iOS vs. Android vs. WP7).

While 71 percent of developers are very interested in Android as a tablet OS, only 52 percent are very interested in one of the leading Android tablet devices today, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Further down the list, only 44 percent are very interested in the Motorola Xoom and 31% in the upcoming HTC Flyer.

Smaller players such as Acer and Archos registered minimal interest. In short, the promise of an Android tablet is appealing, but the reality of currently, or soon-to-be, shipping devices is disappointing to developers, the survey concluded. Only 29 percent of developers said they are very interested in the Windows Phone 7 and 27 percent very interested in BlackBerry phones.

Startup Launched to Build Advanced Mobile Products

IAC, which operates 50 Internet brands, has launched a new one: Hatch Labs, "a technology innovation sandbox" for the development of mobile products. The startup was founded in October 2010 by Dinesh Moorjani, formerly the SVP of IAC Mobile and is dedicated to rapidly prototyping new applications, tools and platforms that tackle emerging problems in mobility.

Moorjani, who serves as CEO, manages multiple teams of startup engineers and entrepreneurs in partnership with Xtreme Labs to build the new ventures. Multiple products are currently operating in beta and will be introduced later this year. The first product, Blu Trumpet is a monetization platform for app developers and advertisers to marry mobile users' interests with mobile apps in a self-sustaining ecosystem. Details on the next project, which will improve the intersection of social, web and mobile, will be released in the second quarter.

"Our team has deep mobile expertise building and scaling mobile businesses across IAC. We started Hatch Labs to focus on entirely new products that can serve five billion people globally with access to wireless, as mobile networks and smart devices eclipse fixed broadband and stationary computing, respectively," said Moorjani.

At IAC, Moorjani started the mobile group in 2007 and was responsible for strategy & operations across leading IAC businesses, paving the way for over 40 million app downloads and mobile revenue doubling annually. Previously, he built digital media businesses at Samsung Electronics North America and managed cross-border teams to invent new applications for semiconductors and to turnaround digital media and mobile businesses in Korea and India. He has worked at Goldman Sachs, Mainspring (acquired by IBM) and in strategy consulting while building Saffronart, the leading online marketplace for Indian fine art. He serves as a board director and advisory with several tech companies, and has co-founded an online travel startup.

Mobile Apps Integral to Small Business Operations

Small businesses are increasingly reliant on mobile applications, Facebook pages for their companies, and employees working remotely via wireless technologies, according to the AT&T Small Business Technology Poll. More specifically, the national survey of small businesses with two to 50 employees revealed that:

  • Nearly three-fourths (72%) indicate they use mobile apps in their business, with roughly four in 10 (38%) reporting they could not survive – or it would be a major challenge to survive – without mobile apps
  • 41% of small businesses surveyed have a Facebook page for their business, representing a 52% jump from last year
  • Four in 10 (40%) small businesses report all their employees use wireless devices or wireless technologies to work away from the office, a 66% jump over the past two years.
  • One-third (33%) of small businesses indicate they are using cloud-based or software as a service solutions, while another one-third acknowledged they do not know what is meant by these technologies

Mobile applications are becoming crucial for small businesses, with nearly four in 10 (38%) businesses surveyed saying they could not survive – or it would be a major challenge to survive – without mobile apps. With nearly three-fourths (72%) of small businesses surveyed indicating they use mobile apps for their business, the driving force behind this widespread adoption is time savings, increased productivity and reduction of costs. Moreover, GPS/navigation and mapping mobile apps are by far the most popular, with nearly half (49%) reporting they use them for their small business.

Four in 10 (40%) small businesses report that all their employees use wireless devices or wireless technologies to work away from the office. This is up from 24% in 2008 and is expected to grow to 50% by 2012.

The AT&T survey also found that one-third (33%) of small businesses indicated that they are using cloud-based or software as a service solutions, a solid adoption rate despite the nascent nature of these services. But cloud solutions are not nearly as critical to small businesses just yet as other technologies, with less than one in five (17%) saying they could not survive – or it would be a major challenge to survive – without these technologies. Moreover, despite recent headlines and media campaigns, nearly one-third (32%) of small businesses surveyed acknowledged they do not know what is meant by cloud-based or software as a service solutions.

Considering there are more than 500 million active Facebook users, this year's survey found a significant increase in small businesses that have adopted this social media channel as a business tool, with 41% reporting they have a Facebook page for their business. Usage is up from 27% in 2010, representing a 52% jump in just one year. Additionally, of all businesses reporting that they utilize social media, 41% responded that they've seen measurable success – in terms of better communications and relationships with new and/or existing customers – with these channels.

Ninety-six percent (96%) of small businesses use wireless technologies. In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of small businesses surveyed said they could not survive — or it would be a major challenge to survive — without wireless technology.

Regional Variations: Based on responses to four factors – perceived importance of wireless, use of wireless technology, use of mobile apps, and percentage of employees using wireless to work away from the office– a Wireless Quotient, or "WiQ," was calculated for each of the 12 markets surveyed. Each component was weighted in the rankings. Last year, Atlanta and Oklahoma topped the rankings for highest "WiQ." This year, Miami and Atlanta lead the pack.

More Mobile App Downloads Means Windfall for Developers

Worldwide mobile application store downloads are forecast to reach 17.7 billion downloads in 2011, a 117 percent increase from an estimated 8.2 billion downloads in 2010, according to market-research firm Gartner. And by 2014, the number downloaded from mobile app stores since 2008 will reach 185 billion.

Worldwide mobile application store revenue, meanwhioe, is projected to surpass $15.1 billion in 2011, both from end users buying applications and applications themselves generating advertising revenue for their developers. This is a 190 percent increase from 2010 revenue of $5.2 billion.

"Many are wondering if the app frenzy we have been witnessing is just a fashion, and, like many others, it shall pass. We do not think so," said Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner. "We strongly believe there is a sizable opportunity for application stores in the future. However, applications will have to grow up and deliver a superior experience to the one that a Web-based app will be able to deliver. Native apps will survive the Web enhancements only when they will provide a more-personal and richer experience to the ‘vanilla’ experience that a Web-based app will deliver."

Gartner analysts said the hype around application stores in 2009 continued through 2010 with alternative offerings to the Apple App Store gaining some traction. Android Market, Nokia's Ovi Store, Research In Motion's (RIM's) App World, Microsoft Marketplace and Samsung Apps are the key competitors that saw the number of application downloads grow in 2010.

Free downloads are forecast to account for 81 percent of total mobile application store downloads in 2011. This percentage has been decreasing since the first launches in 2008, and Gartner estimates free downloads will continue to decrease in 2011, but it will increase again from 2012 through 2014. Users will begin paying for more applications as they perceive values in the concept of mobile applications, and they become more trustful of billing mechanisms.

In 2010, application stores' revenue is estimated to have reached $5.2 billion, both from end users buying applications and applications generating advertising revenue for their developers. The growth between 2010 and 2014 is forecast be over 1,000 percent.

Application stores' revenue is split between the store owners (such as Apple, in the case of the App Store, or RIM, in the case of App World) and the application's developer. The average revenue share is based on a 70/30 split, with 70 percent going to the developer. By the end of 2014, advertising will be generating a little under a third of the revenue generated by application stores, up from 16 percent in 2010.

"While the average number of downloads per device onto a smartphone will remain stable as the market grows, it must be assumed that media tablets will drive more downloads from consumers, boosting the overall average downloads per device," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "We estimate that Apple's App Store drove close to nine application downloads out of 10 in 2010 and will remain the single best-selling store across our forecast period (through 2014), although to a lesser extent, as other stores manage to gain momentum."

"Application stores have become a highly visible and potentially lucrative part of the smartphone 'ecosystem, largely due to Apple's App Store. As well as promising revenue, application stores allow store owners to leverage innovation from a community outside their own R&D department," said Ms.Baghdassarian. "However, setting up a successful application store is far from simple. Application store owners need to rise to the challenges of attracting developers, organizing content and engaging users throughout the life of the store in order to remain profitable."

Developers Rank AT&T Best in Mobile App Distribution

When asked to rank the capabilities that carriers offer to developers, those in North America ranked AT&T better than all competitors in four essential areas, according to Evans Data.

AT&T was ranked best in Mobile Application Distribution by 37 percent - almost twice as many Sprint, which was rated second in that category. Twenty-six percent chose AT&T as having the best Tool Offerings – almost a quarter more than T-Mobile, the next choice. AT&T also edged out Verizon as the carrier with the best Supported Technologies and the best Market Potential. When all four categories were combined, AT&T was selected as tops by almost twice as many developers than the next closest competitor, Verizon.

“AT&T has been diligent in creating a full service developer program, and obviously values developers and understand their importance” said Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data Corp. “Of course the exclusive arrangement with Apple helped them gain steam in app distribution and market potential and that edge may disappear now, but the all important basics like tool offerings and supported technologies are a notch above at AT&T according to North American mobile developers.”

The Mobile Development survey is conducted twice a year and focuses on mobile development on a worldwide basis. It includes such as topics as platforms, APIs, app stores and application distribution, and other mobile development topics. Other highlights from this annual survey include:

---Seventy-three percent of mobile developers plan to extend enterprise apps to mobile devices in the next 12 months.

---Java is the most targeted platform with 62 percent currently creating mobile Java apps – more than iPhone, Android, or any other platform.

---Seventy-six percent are concerned about government interference in the mobile market, and 32% are very concerned.

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