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Insights into the 2013 iOS Developer Survey (bigswing.com)
42 points by RickDT on July 2, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments

You guys are asking some interesting questions in particular about whether people feel they charge too much or not enough. The best expose on that I've seen is in Gerald Weinberg's "Secrets of Consulting" http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0932633013/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=...

It's a question that's both externally determined, e.g. "What does the market bear?" and also based on someone's own perception of their worth. It's hard to disentangle the two but very important in order to maximize revenue. What's more the objective question of what the market will bear is often colored by my own perception, which is a recipe to leaving money on the table.

Weinberg's advice is to set your rate such that you'd feel emotionally neutral whether or not you get the gig. If you over price (by your own feeling, not by what the market says) and you get the gig, you'll be stressed to deliver at what you think that price level should be worth in labor. If you under price (by your own standard, perhaps because you think the market will not accept more) then you'll be resentful for working below what you're worth. Having been a consultant myself, I can only advise everybody to challenge the own perception of what the market will bear.

Fantastic point on challenging your own perceptions of the value of an hour, the market, etc. We really hope this survey (and subsequent ones that we plan to do) gives people an additional data point to consider.

These "feel" low to me. For context I'm a freelancer doing mostly front end web work based in MN and comfortably charging 50-60 with relatively little experience (~18 months, three of which were an internship with a creative firm). My intuition would have previously been that iOS devs; being both more supply constrained and needing more technical depth in skills (webdevs can get away with just knowing how to string up wordpress instances. I'm not aware of anything similar in the objective C world) would command much more leverage.

On the top end, I would hope these "rockstar" teams are charging 250/hr per developer?

I like to think I'm at the very bottom of the totem pole with plenty of room to climb higher and increase my revenue over a long career to come; seeing things like this make think I'm rapidly approaching a pretty hard cap.

Especially comparing the average rates to proficiency and locale, I was surprised. I would expect Journeymen and Master to be charging more than $100/hr on average. Same with people in tech-heavy areas.

But, our data may be skewed this year just due to our reach. We didn't have many people from companies in the range of 20-100 people which I think is a sweet spot for high specialization.

I think it'd be cool to see more visualizations of that data. What percentage was around the median and mean? What percentage of people charged under $50/hr?

Indeed, very little substance here. They couldn't even be bothered to indicate the time interval their "rate" applies to. One assumes hours, but it's not stated anywhere on the page. $93/hour? Day? Week? Project?

Point taken, but if you look at the results page (linked in the post), it's a lot more clear: http://bigswing.com/ios-rates-2013

Ah, thanks! That's exactly what I was looking for.

The heavier font weight didn't register and I completely missed the links in the body of the text. Maybe they need to be set off more, or maybe I just need more coffee :)

Beautiful, that's exactly what I wanted to see. I agree with the other commenter who missed the link. You should combine those into one page.

I will freely admit that I suck as stats and data viz. We'll track the feedback and add to the results page.

Hey Rick, I'd humbly suggest that you load the dataset into Statwing, and you'll get visualizations (histograms, scatterplots, etc.) and stats out of the box, as well as a link to share so others can play with the data.

Or ping me at contact at statwing.com and I can do the data-loading stuff for you (I'm a cofounder).

Interesting that "innocent"s charge more than "exposed"s or "apprentices." I wonder if these are senior developers making a transition into iOS.

I hadn't considered the transitioners. That's a good point. The other way to look at it is that they don't know how bad they are yet :) When you first start to learn something, you feel like you know everything until you get that first smack down!

- Note this is a self-reported survey where people are likely to overstate their earnings in order to impress peers.

- Additionally there isn't enough supporting data, e.g. no where is the rate of time defined in the article. I'd be interested to see the original survey to see if this is clearly mentioned here.

- Can someone point to one clear unambiguous place where an iOS developer position is advertised at over $100 per hour?

- The survey was anonymous (unless you signed up to get the results). And, I don't think anyone is trying to impress us ;)

- The data clearly shows that this is per hour (see the data here: http://bigswing.com/ios-rates-2013, per the post). You can also view an archived copy of the survey here: http://bigswing.com/ios-rate-survey-2013-archive/ It poses the question: "If you do have an hourly rate, what is it on average?"

- The point of doing this survey was that rates are rarely, if ever, actually posted. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it also makes hard to know if you're in line with your industry. Hence, the survey!

Your critiques and questions seem to imply that you don't think our findings are valid. Is that true or am I reading too much into it? ~$100/hour USD is right in line with our experience for an average across the whole industry. It's low for an agency or big firm and high for a young freelancer.

>> "- Can someone point to one clear unambiguous place where an iOS developer position is advertised at over $100 per hour?"

I think this misses the point. You seem to imply you're thinking about what a developer could make in a full-time salaried position. What a consultancy (whether one person or ten) charges is generally significantly higher.

How did you get the survey out? Was it via your email list or Twitter HN etc? Survey methods can dramatically change your results.

All of the above. We posted here on HN, on Twitter, our blog, and we emailed some people that we knew would want to participate.

I'm in the wrong goddamn business. Time to look at mobile development!

For other people, maybe. The market's starting to get flooded with mobile devs I believe - and making a hit on your own is just non calculable for potential profit.

I think the point isn't to make your own apps, it's to become a freelance app-maker. After all, in a gold rush sell shovels. There's tons of room right now for mobile developers - the influx isn't nearly as big as you would think, and most of the new entrants are woefully incompetent.

If you're a legitimately good mobile dev (or can become one), there is lots of room for you in the scene right now, making plenty of money.

What kind of profit are we talking about? I'd be content with 2k revenue a month.

Mobile app profitability isn't linear, or even close to linear - you're either rolling in the dough or you're not even making ramen money.

Discoverability is a huge problem, if you're not in a featuring, a top-X list, or something of the sort, your profitability is extremely limited. If there's no visibility on the App Store for you, you don't get fewer users, you get almost no users.

$2K sustaining revenue a month isn't impossible, but it's hard.

From this discussion, it sounds like it's potentially very profitable to be a consultant MAKING apps for other companies, but, except for very rare cases, the apps themselves are not profitable.

We may do a follow-up survey to attempt to confirm our assumption that the vast majority of people that make money from apps are doing so by invoicing clients, rather than selling apps in the store(s).

So what's stopping people from making a web app that offers better native app discoverability than the app store?

Those exist, but there are a few key problems:

- Most of them are pretty sketchy marketing schemes, not unlike the "Top Sites" aggregators of yore. There's no user trust, because they are just pay-to-play.

- The friction is still enormous. You're on a website, you find an app you like, you tap on a link. It switches to the App Store App (heh). You wait. You wait some more. You wait for the hybrid-webview-bullshit-thing to kick in and load the detail page. You tap Buy/Install, you authenticate. You wait some more. There's no way to bypass the App Store, sadly.

Android does better in this regard where a user sitting at their home computer can send an app to their phone. This does wonders for your ability to market your app.

I like the idea too. I have done a lot of freelance but only in my country. Doing US 40/h is good enough for me (I'm in Colombia), and know python, django, sql (ie full stack, but not much on design)

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