In December, we demonstrated that iPhone application development was beating the pants off Android – jobs to develop the Apple apps were leading by 10 to one. This week, we comb our trend data to look at Facebook app development vs. iPhone app development. Facebook became open to third party development when it launched the Facebook platform on May 24, 2007. Apple announced the iPhone SDK on March 6, 2008 at a Town Hall meeting.
Facebook and iPhone are, of course, very different platforms. One is the leading social network, whereas the other is the world’s fastest growing device. Not only are these different technologies, they also follow different business models. Facebook apps are free and depend on traffic and advertising for revenue. iPhone apps, on the other hand, are either free or charge installation or upgrade fees, usually $0.99 to $2.99. Distribution of facebook apps is primarily viral (via invites, newsfeed, etc) whereas iPhone applications are downloaded via Apple’s app store.
However, both technologies, and application development for each, have captured mainstream imagination. So let's look at the numbers! There are currently 1,246 Facebook Developers on oDesk. Demand for Facebook app development rose fast at the beginning of 2008, plateaued, then started a dramatic upswing late in the year, peaking at 159 job posts last month. Meanwhile, over on the iPhone aisle, we see a much steeper, more prolonged rise in demand starting last May. 217 iPhone jobs were posted last month. There are 561 iPhone programmers on oDesk.
(Caveat: oDesk is a growing service, so upward trends can partly be attributed to our growth).
Looking at both the January 2009 totals and the angle of these rising curves, it's clear that iPhone has caught, and is now beating Facebook for developer demand. Considering Facebook’s head start, and its 175 million users, iPhone's rising popularity is even more impressive. Apple's old-fashioned “make it, sell it, cash the check” business model seems to be humming along while the social networking app business model is a longer-term play.
That's our latest technology-versus-technology cage match, but the hard-core stats fan can find tons more data on iPhone, Facebook and more than 40 other skills and platforms on our Trends pages. Comments are open — let us know what you think of the iPhone/Facebook comparison, or tell us which trends you think we should be spotlighting.