App development: Spent force or taking a pit stop for the next lap?

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock


Back in early 2016, we had predicted that the year would see the euphoria around mobile app development die down. A year on, we asked 230 app developers for their opinions on where things stand. We came back with some interesting insights.

Mobile investments have become more and more rooted in ROI.

Like the founder of an SDK company told us, there is no reason to believe that your app is going to be successful. While transaction-oriented apps seem to work well for loyal customers, the ‘let’s build an app and they will come’ era, if there ever was one, has ended.

Back in 2015, 30 percent of the businesses built apps with specific revenue goals. In 2016, that number doubled. Sixty percent of organisations that invest in mobile do so with ROI in the equation. Mobile is mainstream, and the expectations are driven by hard numbers. Most enterprises seem to understand how to make mobile work and how to sustain the engagement on internal mobile apps (or have understood that web still works as well as, or better than, mobile in some cases).

Enterprises today understand mobile strategy and mobile design like never before. According to app development agencies that we interviewed, nearly 75 percent of their enterprise customers understand mobile strategy.

Surprisingly, app developers still feel that we are not past the peak of apps. More than 70 percent of the app developers believe that custom app development will still thrive within the enterprise. The inertia of their success with mobile for the last seven years perhaps clouds their opinion on how soon they have to look at the next big wave and ride it.

We predict 2017 to be the year of hyped expectations on apps that are ‘intelligent’. One in five app development agencies are investing in re-skilling themselves to build intelligent apps or bots. While only 3 percent of app developers believe that bots are app killers, 78 percent believe that bots and intelligent apps would be the next logical evolution of personalised computing, which was heralded by mobile. Twelve percent believe that bots and intelligent apps would be a bigger phenomenon than mobile apps.

Nearly 50 percent of app developers have received requests to build bots or intelligent apps within the last six months. But only 15 percent are skilled enough to undertake the development of intelligent applications. By the end of 2017, this could rapidly change. We expect at least 70 percent of the app development community to re-skill themselves to build intelligent apps.

Virtual and mixed reality as a category could see mainstream interest in 2017, even as wearables as a category gets relegated to a fad. Two out of three app developers expect virtual reality to become a mainstream technology in 2017. The app development community has not, however, written off the wearables category just yet – 35 percent of app developers think that wearables will continue as a niche category within the overall mobile device/apps space.

In the app SDK category, we see an increasing trend towards consolidation. Winners in each SDK category have largely been identified, and the category leaders exhibit growth strains as the segment within the app economy with the ability to pay is now a red ocean, with major players holding places firmly.

In terms of app development economics, 30 percent of app developers believe that they could get better price realisation in 2017. Twenty percent believe that there would be a decline in app development pricing. ContractIQ has been observing several app development bids on its platform, and the shift is clearly towards cheaper app developers as the risk and uncertainties with app development have largely been mitigated through acquired knowhow over the years.

Like in the past, this year too, we have published the rates we see on our marketplace across various markets for app development and some of the modern front-end technologies. You could find this rate card and other detailed stats in our report.