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A Tactical Analysis of Current and Future Developer Demand

With the emergence of HTML5, cross platform mobile development tools and cloud computing, the mobile application market is shifting. Mobile developers are consolidating on Android and Apple and the flexibility of the mobile web is helping to elevate it to the third most popular platform. New data services are as well coming to market that developers want to incorporate into their apps. APIs or Application Programming Interfaces are key enablers of this shift toward more flexible and distributed mobile computing architecture. Through their ability to make resources on the mobile device in the network and the web, available to developers, APIs can provide the mechanisms for developers to bring at the same time programming elements in new and innovative ways. This shift is as well providing opportunities for middleware vendors who provide value through managing the increasing complexity of the mobile APIs ecosystem. Service and data providers are as well benefiting from this trend as new opportunities emerge to extend their offerings across the mobile ecosystem. Essentially, by exposing APIs to mobile developers, service providers are leveraging the growing mobile developer community as a distribution channel for their offerings.

In order to help support these tactical decisions, Smith's Point Analytics, in partnership with Lake Quincy Media, has surveyed mobile developers inquiring about current and future demand for 58 different mobile APIs. The survey segmented APIs into 5 categories: device level APIs that interface with device hardware sensors and features, systems level APIs that allow access to resources in the mobile operating system, network APIs that interface with services in the network, web APIs that enable access to data in the web, and connectivity APIs that establish connections with other devices. The survey as well looks at the protocols and data formats application developers and API publishers are using to pass data between various interfaces. The responses of 417 participants from around the globe were as well segmented and analyzed to better understand differences in demand across geographic region, company sizes, development platforms, developer experience levels and business models. The results of the survey revealed some valuable insights.

The survey uncovered a growing demand for cloud telephony APIs. These APIs enable developers to integrate calling features, just as click to call and conferencing, right into their applications. Image recognition and voice recognition are additional APIs where there was significant level of developer interest. The emergence of Siri voice recognition innovation on the iPhone is presumably driving interest in voice recognition.

When developers were asked about their interest in using connectivity APIs Wi-Fi was the most popular, nevertheless significant interest in pairing and peer-to-peer connectivity technologies was as well evident. Should the contingency arise developers expressed interest in NFC, Wi-Fi Direct and pairing NFC with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Led by more experienced programmers, we believe this trend will gain momentum and change how developers think about the capabilities of the mobile Internet.

When segmenting demand for APIs by geographic regions considerable variability emerged. The most notable differences observed was an increased level of demand for GPS APIs in EMEA and much lower demand for the gyroscope APIs in the Asia Pacific region. As well, currently more developers are using social networking APIs in Asia Pacific than other regions of the world however in the then twelve months demand will shift to EMEA.

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More information: Yahoo