There are mobile app writers who create software to run natively on the mobile platform. There are also those who write web apps tailored to work well on a mobile device. What does the marketplace have to say about these two breeds?

We investigate the Mobile Developer, Android Developer, and iOS Developer roles (sorry, not enough jobs for Windows Phone developers to produce reliable statistics!)

  • What skills are being asked for?
  • Are the jobs for native mobile apps or web apps running on mobile platforms?
  • How many "mobile developer" jobs are really web development roles?
  • Has there been any change in demand?

Overall demand and web mentions in mobile jobs

The global demand for mobile related jobs has been relatively steady this year with a slight rise. Specific technology jobs (e.g. Android and iOS) are, unsurprisingly, less common.

Global demand trend for mobile related jobs

We mined our database for ads mentioning both mobile and web development skills. Almost 40% of Mobile Developer ads asked for web based programming skills like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. A still significant 28% of Android and iOS Developer jobs require web based skills. It's worth looking into each of these in some detail.

Mobile platform jobs mentioning web technologies

The Mobile Developer

Mobile Developer roles appear to be reasonably generic. We can see this by looking at the mention of web technologies in these ads. Approximately 48% of ads required web development skills and the trend is relatively steady.

Mobile developer jobs mentioning web technologies

This isn't surprising - "mobile developer" roles are clearly of the more generic kind. What is surprising is that almost a third of all jobs for Android or iOS developers, appear to be web focused. Let's look at those next.

What about Android and iOS Developers?

Whilst 30% of these roles are web app focused, the trends show that iOS roles are becoming more about native app development, and less about web apps for mobile platforms. This year alone, we've seen a drop of 13% in mentions of web technologies in these ads. iOS developer roles are becoming more specialised. The same may be happening for Android roles, although the trend isn't quite as clear.

iOS jobs mentioning web technologies

Android jobs mentioning web technologies

If you're looking to develop for a specific platform, then the trend is good that organisations and recruiters are begining to understand the area. However, the number of ads for both iOS and Android roles have fallen 6% this year. If that trend continues, then you may need to venture into the mobile web arena.

Cross platform development

We next looked at ads which mention both iOS and Android technologies. The trend so far this year is clearly upwards. The ability to work with multiple mobile platforms is increasingly required.

Jobs mentioning both iOS and Android

The same is the case for specific cross-platform technologies like Xamarin. Xamarin is a cross-platform mobile development tool based on .NET. It allows you to write code in C# and deploy it natively to iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices. It's popularity in the marketplace is still emerging so the overall figures are low.

Demand for Xamarin has fallen in iOS and Android focused roles, but has almost doubled for Mobile Developer roles. Cross-mobile-platform development is definitely on the rise.

Trends of jobs mentioning Xamarin

Key takeaways

  • If you're a mobile applications developer, and prefer working on the native platforms, then a Mobile Developer role may not be the best thing to search for - 40% of these roles appear to be web app development with a focus on mobile platforms.

  • The marketplace is begining to understand the distinction between apps that run natively on mobile platforms, and apps that are web based but work on mobile devices.

  • The market for specific platform developers is shrinking slightly (6% this year). The more generic Mobile Developer role has increased in demand by 30%, and cross-platform development such as Xamarin (or simply jobs required both iOS and Android skills) are on the rise.