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U.S. Leads for Number of Professional Developers
U.S. Leads for Number of Professional Developers

By Barry Levine
December 23, 2013 7:33AM

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Countries with a lot of professional developers like the U.S. tend to have fewer hobbyists, apparently because there are more professional opportunities, according to IDC. Countries with high levels of education but without large IT industries tend to have a lot of hobbyist developers including Russia and China, IDC said.
 



The U.S. has nearly 20 percent of the world’s 18.5 million software developers, followed by China and India with about 10 percent each. That is one of the findings in this year’s survey of developers from industry research firm IDC.

The report, “2014 Worldwide Software Developer and ICT-Skilled Worker Estimates,” is the fifth such report from IDC in the last 14 years. Al Hilwa, Program Director for Application Development at IDC and author of the report, told us that the report will now be conducted annually.

The study looks at three categories -- professionals, hobbyists and information and communications technology (ICT) skilled workers. Of the 18.5 million developers at the beginning of 2014, 11 million are professionals and 7.5 million are hobbyists. ICT-skilled workers are pegged at 29 million, 18 million of whom are operations and management skilled workers and the balance are professionals.

China Catches Up

Ninety countries are represented in the report. Hilwa said one of the differences in this year’s study compared to earlier years is in the methodology. In the past, he said, the developer population would be calculated in a few key countries using governmental data on professions, and then a model would be created to estimate other countries’ populations through such data as educational levels. This year, however, many countries were modelled individually, plus hobbyists were included in the calculations for the first time.

The report is used in various ways by subscribing companies, such as aiding predictions of market potential for developer-related products in specific countries or getting a sense of the talent pool in geographical areas where a company might want to outsource.

Surprises in this year’s report, Hilwa said, include the fact that “China has caught up quite a bit with India in numbers of developers,” while India “historically had the second largest number.” The two countries are now nearly tied, with China at 10 percent and India at 9.8 percent, but India has more professionals and China more hobbyists.

Fewer Hobbyists

Hilwa said that “countries with a lot of professional developers tend to have fewer hobbyists,” apparently because there are more professional opportunities. Countries with high levels of education but without large IT industries tend to have “a lot of hobbyist developers,” he added, including Russia and China.

There also tends to be more malware originating from countries with large numbers of hobbyists, with Russia and China being prime examples. Although the report did not determine why that might be, one speculation is simply that skilled developers without jobs will look for something to do. The report also pointed to a steady increase in the developer population in Eastern European countries, such as Romania, Estonia, Latvia and the Ukraine.

In 2014, the three major regions have pretty much the same number of professional developers, with Asia/Pacific edging out at 36 percent, Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) second with 34 percent and the Americas taking 30 percent. By hobbyists, EMEA is tops at 39 percent, followed by Asia/Pacific at 34 percent and the Americas at 27 percent.
 

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