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Projecting Developer Population

September 21, 2011

Twice a year we publish a study called Global Developer Population and Demographics Study. It projects the developer population worldwide by region and by major countries as well as layering global survey data from our twice yearly Global Development Survey to provide estimates of how many developers there are and what they’re doing. Projecting populations is easy for countries like the U.S. who publish census statistics by job codes – the only trick is deciding which codes fit into your definition of a developer. But very few countries publish these statistics, so how do we estimate the populations in most of the rest of the countries in the world?

We spend considerable time researching what statistics are available from organizations such as World Bank, UNDP, CIA, and the governments of the countries themselves. We use country population, GDP, tertiary education, and whatever other technical markers are available for that country such as computers sold, mobile phones shipped, internet connections etc. From there we can make an estimate by applying a formula derived from what we can see in the US as to how these statistics roll up to deliver a developer. Growth rates are derived from linear regressions modified for real world events. Since we’ve been publishing this report twice a year since 2006, and are continually monitoring it, we can show some solid history with reliable forecasts.

Since the results always depend on what variables are put into the mix, it’s very important that these are relevant as well as reliable. One variable that is no longer relevant and one that can be misleading is developer spending. We know of one firm that uses this as a variable in calculating the developer population of countries with no published job census data. While this used to be relevant, the easy availability of open source and free tools has made developer spending into a declining variable, even though the actual population of developers has increased. This leads to crazy results, such as estimating a population for 2010 that is half of what the firm estimated in 2007.

Knowing developer populations is important for sales as well as product and program strategy. If you have questions about developer population and would like to talk to an analyst – give us a call.

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