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Measuring and Forecasting Developer Populations

November 19, 2018

Some market data is current and measured.  Some looks to the future and is forecast.  While very different from each other, each has its own value and reliability.

For example, Evans Data’s recently released Global Developer Population and Demographics Report , shows a total worldwide population of approximately 23 million developers.  This is forecast to grow to 27.7 million by 2023 which is based on a growth rate that varies slightly by year but turns in an average of 3.86%.  Growth projections are based on a very long and solid regression analysis going back to 2006 and, barring a huge economic event of some kind, they are quite reliable.

In the same study we find that 7.3 million developers are using Clouds for their development environment (either public, private or hybrid), meaning they write their code, debug, build etc in the Cloud itself.  Cloud vendors of course encourage this and often supply tools and incentives for developers to work in their Cloud environments.  These efforts have been very successful and we find that an additional 4.9 million developers report that they EXPECT to be developing applications in the Cloud within the next 6 months.  That’s a highly significant growth rate and if that were achieved and repeated every six months for 1.5 years the Cloud would be the ONLY environment that developers would use in just two years.

But there’s a big caveat.  Developers are wonderful beings, but they’re not prescient.  And for this question they are using their intuition rather than any type of data analysis.  They have been predicting a similar adoption rate for Cloud development for several years; and though the Cloud as a development platform has definitely grown, it hasn’t grown to that extent in any six month period.

That’s why we think of the future intentions that developers tell us as just that – intentions.  But make no mistake, intentions are important.  They not only tell you what the person thinks he’s going to be doing, but in most instances they imply what he wants to be doing or what technology he thinks will be successful. This glimpse into the psyche is essential for product strategy, as well as marketing, messaging and positioning.  Current attitudes and perceptions highly influence actual future adoption and can they can be an invaluable resource to inform a product strategy for great results.

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