Whither native app developers?


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I’ve observed something fascinating recently. 5 years ago, senior developers with vital iOS expertise obtainable for brand spanking new work appeared roughly as straightforward to seek out as unicorns who additionally laid golden eggs. Even two years ago, they have been awfully exhausting to unearth. This yr, though? Perhaps it’s just a random blip — but this yr, like the truth, they appear to be on the market. And some issues make me suspect it’s not a blip.

App Annie’s “State of Cellular 2019” refers obliquely to “cellular maturity,” i.e. the point at which the number of downloads per yr flattens out in a given market. That very same report exhibits that the US is there; the number of app downloads in the US elevated a paltry 5% from 2016 to 2018 — though it’s value noting that app income which flowed via the app store increased 70% in that same time.

In the meantime, the number of apps within the iOS App Store is essentially flat during the last two years — this has been influenced by more stringent approval standards from Apple, sure, but continues to be noteworthy.

Meanwhile meanwhile, non-native cross-platform improvement platforms are growing in reputation. “We scanned Microsoft’s iOS and Android apps and found that 38 of them, including the likes of Phrase, Excel, Xbox, and lots of others, have been just lately updated to incorporate React Native” reports AppFigures, who add “In the last yr use of React Native has almost doubled.”

I can affirm anecdotally that shoppers are more and more serious about building cross-platform apps, or no less than simple cross-platform apps, in React Native. I definitely don’t assume this is all the time the best move — I wrote about this choice and its trade-offs for ExtraCrunch a couple of months in the past — but It’s definitely a extra viable choice than Cordova/Ionic, which I’ve had nothing however a number of terrible experiences with through the years. After which there’s the sluggish but distinct rise of PWAs.

Is the app growth over? Are at present’s app specialists doomed to grow to be the COBOL programmers of tomorrow? Not so quick. Native improvement instruments and applied sciences have gotten quite a bit higher in that point, too. (For example, I’ve by no means talked to anyone who doesn’t vastly want Swift to Goal-C, and whereas Kotlin is newer, it seems to be on an analogous trajectory for Android.) And we’re still seeing consistent progress in a “long tail” of latest app improvement, which, as an alternative of being constructed for mass shopper or enterprise-wide audiences, are built and iterated for very specific enterprise needs.

However I’d still feel at the very least barely uneasy about going all-in as a specialist app developer if I was early in my career. Not because the market’s going to go away … however because, barring some new transcendent know-how out there solely on telephones (perhaps some AR breakthrough?) the relentless progress and ever-increasing demand of yesteryear is, in mature markets like the US, apparently gone for the foreseeable future. There’s nonetheless some progress, but it appears that evidently’s being sopped up by the rise of non-native improvement.

Briefly, for the primary time because the launch of the App Store it’s potential to no less than envision a future during which the demand for native app builders begins to diminish. It’s definitely not the one potential future. This definitely isn’t the traditional wisdom — just ask any of the hordes of Android builders flocking to Google I/O in Might, or WWDC in June. However it may be value build up a backup technique, just in case.