December 11, 2008 by Frank Higgins

A good gauge of the strength of a platform is the trend in demand for development on that platform. Since cell phones are becoming fully featured handheld personal computers, the availability of cool and useful applications they offer will be the battleground by which these platforms will claim their ownership of the cell phone market.

oDesk’s programming skill trends show the demand for application development across almost 80 different skills.  You can get an interesting look at the iPhone’s strong initial and continuously increasing demand. 

See the full rankings and trends for iPhone Developers



As you can see in the graph above, we had 40 jobs posted per month in the 3 months from March until June. This shows a very strong belief in Apple and its future as well as a validation of the power of its public relations department in generating strong buzz. This is followed by a dramatic increase in demand for iPhone developers over the next 6 months to 160 jobs per month posted for iPhone application development. Apple “Talked the talk” and then “Walked the walk” by delivering, as it did with the iPod, a product that people wanted to use. 

Google is less aggressive in its release of new products and features. In many cases we are lucky to get a Google blog post on a new product or feature.  Android is not strictly “Google’s” as it is open source and is merely backed by Google. It is not a Google “product” but we can’t help put them together.

The first Android-powered phone snuck out with nowhere near the fanfare of the iPhone release and it shows in its application demand.  Preceding its release, there was literally no demand for application development.

See the full rankings and trends for Android Developers


Post release, the demand for application development has increased to a humble 12 jobs per month compared with the iPhone’s very healthy 160 per month. This represents to some the degree the future of the device’s feature set and does not impress at this stage.

In looking at the demand for application development between the iPhone and Android, one can appreciate the power of the Apple PR department, Apples reputation and the continued popularity of the iPhone. Even with Google’s powerful reputation, Android does not even seem to put up a fight with the mighty Apple product. We can’t necessarily count Android out yet, far from it but it has a ways to go yet based upon the past, present and future application development that the iPhone has mustered. 

  • http://www.samcomtechnobrains.com Samir

    Hi Frank,
    Thats actually correct but not anymore. Cz android market is also growing rapidly. I have worked on odesk from 2.5 years and i am earning only from android when i started. Android is far new than iphone technology but its getting market exponentially. So now a days odesk is also getting lots of android jobs and its increasing immensely.

  • Bera

    Nothing wrong with this, at all, people should get it more.

  • Pingback: Demand for iPhone Application Development Passes Facebook | Freelancing and Outsourcing Tips, Commentary, Analysis, and News from oDesk()

  • fhiggins

    Absolutely, we would be foolish to underestimate Google and think they have given their best effort so far. Their style is more of the quiet patient growth than the Apple trumpets and fanfare approach.

  • http://www.impact-works.com Parvesh Malhotr

    Hi Frank, Apologies for harsh words, well the user base for Iphone is enough to warrant good amount of interest in developer community. Android will pick up once more users are onboard.
    Demand can only increase when interest among users will increase and user base increases. remember when microsoft came up with .net platform the same discussions started everywhere about Java and .net; we all know the situation now

  • fhiggins

    Parvesh, thank you for your feedback. The most amount of drugs I had was caffeine when writing this.
    I think there is enough differences between the two platforms to argue they are not directly comparible but in looking at iPhone app store opening in pre summer 2008 and android following on by a few months, there is enough there to compare. It is true that iPhone had a year to build up users but the Android SDK has been available for quite a while.
    In a year or two we may be discussing how Android and the open source movement has obliterated the iPhone as a platform but as of now, the data has some value. Thoughts?

  • http://www.impact-works.com Parvesh Malhotr

    what a rubbish article,were the guy on drugs who wrote this? did the person kept in mind the releases for both the platforms.. come on a person with minimal common sense can think this much that developers dont have android compatible DNA, there is learning curve for everything and that is what will increase demand in coming day.
    Comparing an established platform with a new 2-3 months old platform is plain rubbish.

  • KenC

    Of course Android is “getting slaughtered”, there are probably 15M iPhones out there now, not counting iPod Touches, and there are maybe 150k Android phones. Of course the number of requests for iPhone developers is going to be an order of magnitude higher.

  • fhiggins

    Definitely. Google has that “slow creep” in the way its products move up to prominence. Apple has the finished polished product with the big PR sweep around it.

  • Kurtosis

    In addition, Apple tends to release finished products while Google releases in Beta and then uses user feedback to evolve them. That seems to be the modus operandi of both in this case too. iPhone has always been a much more polished product from Day 1 than Android has from its release. The G1 is good, but by comparison is clunky and just not in the same league as iPhone yet. Hopefully future versions and other companies’ iterations will close the gap, but it appears it will need to offer more than just an open-source platform to capture market share.

  • http://www.mgmblog.com Michael Maitlen

    I’m biased toward the Android platform, and I totally agree with Wyatt, I would also like to point out that companies cannot charge for their apps yet on the Android Application Market. I would assume that many companies are holding back on development until they can actually see some profits coming out of their development effort. I would think that any mobile development house with a long term vision would port their applications to both platforms once they can make money on both markets.

  • http://www.androinica.com Wyatt Foard

    One factor that should be taken into account in this analysis is the release dates for the devices that run the two platforms. The first iPhone was launched mid-2007 while the first phone running Android was not launched until Oct of 2008. I would argue the time lag for developer positions is to be expected and reflects not faith in the OS, but rather practical decision-making when companies look at the end result. Business developers can believe Android will be a major player in the mobile computing market, but without devices to run it on their money would be more wisely spent in other areas. The true test will be how these numbers change in the coming months, especially as the number of Android-powered devices continues to grow.

  • http://www.itmatchonline.com/ Ashish Adeshara


    Good Observation of Odesk about iphone trend. Specially in Supply.

  • Frank Higgins

    I get what you are saying about the nature of the apps but I think the point here is more the huge discrepancy between the quantity of development. This is the future feature set of the devices and it appears the Android platform is not being embraced to near the same degree.

    Time and effort can change things but right now, the gap is large.

  • http://timlytle.net Tim Lytle

    Not quite a fair treatment, if I’m not mistaken the first iPhone apps (which would have to be the apps in your stats) were not much more than specialized web apps. On the other hand, Android apps are on-device apps. Two very different things.

  • http://twitter.com/BigLebowski Brian Flores

    Another opinion is to consider the impact that Apple’s “Walled Garden” approach has on simplifying the application development process. With the iPhone & iPod Touch, you’re developing for what is essentially a single configuration/platform. With Android development, you have to write code that will potentially be supported by multiple configurations – QVGA & VGA screens, portrait & landscape mode, widely differing amounts of onboard memory/storage space, different processors, etc. All things being equal, it’s much simpler to develop an App Store application.