They may be working as independent one-man shops in many cases, but when it comes to connecting with software vendors, developers are literally getting with the program, according to a recent study by Evans Data. The Santa Cruz, Calif.-based research firm surveyed more than 500 software developers in February about their participation in developer relations programs and what they're willing to pay for.
- Eighty percent of developers belong to a developer program.
- There has been a 57 percent overall increase in developer program participation over the past five years.
- 2008 was the first year that more developers belonged to programs than did not.
- Thirty-four percent of developers belong only to free programs, 23 percent belong exclusively to programs that charge a fee and 23 percent belong to both paid and free programs.
- Both paid and free program membership has increased significantly during the last year. Total membership has increased sharply each year since 2011 when only 55 percent were in a program.
"Developer programs are highly important today and getting even more so," the report says. "Not only do developers expect to be supported by anyone who offers a platform or even an API for adoption, but the number and types of companies that are offering APIs is increasing rapidly as the world becomes more interconnected and software becomes ubiquitous."
Eighty percent of developers belong to a developer program.
Ideally, developer relations programs should be mutually beneficial between platform providers and the developers using their services. However, in their earlier days they might have been interpreted as more of a lobbying effort on the part of large software companies. The fact that there is such an uptake suggests that more developers are finding it valuable to get release information, troubleshooting tips and incentives for working with specific APIs and operating systems.
That being said, there's no question that developer programs are still largely about peddling influence. BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) has been working overtime offering port-a-thons and other gimmicks to lure developers to create more apps for its recently released Z10, for example. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), meanwhile, has been actively hiring a slew of developer relations people and fine-tuning its developer portal. Even social networking services like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) are recognizing such programs as a priority.
Over time, many of the developer program elements--such as hardware for testing, free services, online tutorials and live events--will become more standardized. That means the only thing providers can do to differentiate themselves is making program information easier to find and finding novel ways of promoting them. The results of their efforts may be reflected in Evans' next report on the subject.
- download the full report
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