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August 25, 2015

Why are most developers giving mobile the cold shoulder?

Report reveals that issues such as a lack of time and development tools is preventing developers from moving into mobile.

By Alexander Sword

The majority of software developers have never built a mobile application.

57 percent of developers have never built a mobile app and 47 percent create just one per year, according to the State of Mobility 2015 Global Developer Study by Progress.

Reasons for the inability to deliver mobile apps included a lack of time, cited by 19 percent, and changes in technology or development practices, cited by 16 percent.

In addition, a lack of development tools to deal with multiple platforms and devices, detailed and updated requirements and specifications, skills and budget were cited by 15 percent, 14 percent, 13 percent and 13 percent respectively.

This was despite applications being valued for a range of reasons, particularly internal ones. 43 percent built apps to improve operational efficiency, 39 percent built them to create revenue and 38 percent felt that they increased employee productivity.

Customer service advantages were cited by 35 percent and customer engagement by 34 percent.

Among other findings, the research revealed that hybrid was the most popular type of app to develop, with native following at 25 percent and 19 percent of respondents favouring web apps.

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Many developers are developing cross-platform, with 76 percent providing for Android, 63 percent iOS and 83 percent of iOS developers also working on Android.

Meanwhile, 36 percent said that creating a clean and consistent user interface across multi-platform B2B was the most challenging part of the development process.

"The most poignant finding of the survey is that 57 percent of developers have never built a mobile app, indicating that mobile app development remains highly specialised," said Karen Tegan Padir, President, Application Development and Deployment, Progress.

"It’s clear that the developer community as a whole needs easy-to-use tools and processes to move forward with their mobile app development efforts in a more substantial way."

Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst, commented that developing mobile apps relied on combining a business case with the technical requirements.

"Ultimately it’s about how you bring together the commercial and technical side."

Bamforth highlights the multi-platform element as an important obstacle to overcome, reflected by the 15 percent referencing a lack of multi-platform tools.

"Partly this is a matter of getting a good development platform. That could just be a good porting regime or using platforms that allow multi-platform development.

"That’s a good foundation from a technical perspective.

"The other side is having a strategy for commercialising that’s well thought out. Organisations need to work out how it all ties together. This is not the sort of thing that developers are necessarily good at.

"Linking those two things together is more critical in mobile than anywhere else."

The global survey, conducted in June 2015, quizzed 3,000 developers, CEOs/owners, architects, IT professionals, CTOs and others.

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