Why it’s hard to find Android developers

I’m an Android developer (at Aviary) and a New Yorker since late 2010. I’ve been also an actionscript and python developer for more than 10 years.

I hear this every day. Your New York based company is desperately looking for an Android developer, and it’s damn hard to find one.

And you know what? This is your fault. I mean you, tech startup. Yes, you.

Almost all the startups I know here in NYC have launched their core product for iOS first (most of the PMs I’ve spoken with have said that was because of lack of people or time). And then, maybe, if there’s time… they start to realize they need to have an Android version of their app. But by this point the job is not to “create” something, it’s just a “porting” job. Which, for obvious reasons, is a much less attractive job for developers, just as it would be for a PM or a designer.

Anyway, ignoring Android at first is somewhat understandable, if you think in short terms and you’re not thinking globally. Here in the US, and even more in NYC, the iOS market share is still very strong: as of this past May, Android has 50% of the share and iOS has 42% nationwide (https://www.comscore.com/ita/Insights/Market-Rankings/comScore-Reports-May-2014-U.S.-Smartphone-Subscriber-Market-Share).
If you remove the huge number of “low end” (not profitable) devices from the Android share – as most people do – you’ll see why I said I can understand it.

But, that said, I don’t agree with it. Because globally, for the rest of the world, things are completely different. Android has 80% of the market share and iOS only has around 12% (http://www.idc.com/prodserv/smartphone-os-market-share.jsp).

Ok, I know the numbers, but why is hard to find Android developers?
Because you are not committed to Android development. You just think you “have” to do that. Because at some point you realize either that you need it to go global, or because a lot of users are asking it, or just because you think that porting your app will double your users overnight.

But you’re not committed to doing it.

And when you start, most of the time it’s with a 1-to-1 porting of your iOS app, or at the very best a porting of UI created ad hoc for an iOS environment, which cannot be applied to Android (although, to your credit, you probably don’t know this because you didn’t bother hiring an Android PM or UX expert). I don’t think I even need to mention the cases where you’ve already given the initial porting to 3rd party companies…

Then, after all of this, you complain because the response of the Android market is not as good as you expected and the profits are not comparable to iOS. Well, I would be extremely surprised if this weren’t the case. You’re not committed to it, and you didn’t build an app that takes advantage of any of the benefits of the platform, so what do you expect?

(When I say committed, I mean all the departments in your company from top to bottom. You can’t say you’re committed to it just because you have an Android team. The whole company needs to acknowledge that it’s a priority.)

Ok, but I still don’t get why it’s hard to find Android developers.
Well, try to think from a developer’s perspective. Android developers don’t find it very attractive to join a company where Android will be always the 2nd choice. That’s very frustrating.

And as for developers who are approaching the mobile market for the first time, which platform do you think they’ll choose? They see all of your apps being introduced on iOS first, they see that the Android version is not as good as the iOS one, and they see you complaining about the Android market.

So, why should they choose Android? And why should they choose your company if they do?

Here are some suggestions for ways that you can help:

  • Switch to Android (temporarily, if you want). Get to know the platform. Understand why some people prefer it. Read some articles about purchasing habits of the users. Understand the differences between ios and android. Etc.
  • Commit to Android as a platform. Talk openly at your company (and externally) about the market share, the benefits of the platform, and think about ways it can help your product – so that when an Android developer does join, he or she has some interesting projects to work on.
  • Offer a signing bonus to developers who switch to Android for your company.
  • Launch your next product on Android first (or at the same time as iOS).
  • Attend Android meetups. Speak at Android meetups! Encourage the developers you work with to do the same.
  • thisguy

    You don’t get it. It is about mentality. People using androids are not willing to pay for a service (or it is less likely compared to people buying iDevices). That is why android will always be a 2nd player in the game and will be used to gain the audience not THE CUSTOMERS..It’s google’s flawed mentality

    • Leif Sikorski

      Wrong, that’s just the common argument of people who don’t know the platform. If this would be true there wouldn’t be apps that sell much more on Android than iOS. If the quality of the app is good people pay for it, if it’s a simple iOS port they won’t. The biggest fault many think is that an app that’s successful on iOS also has to be successful on Android, but that’s just crap. Treat each platform as it’s own and it will work.

      • thisguy

        I partially agree…but you just showed the proof…even if the app is crap it generates at least some kind of a profit on iOS while on Android it just exists. BTW the only profitable apps i see on android are navigations and alike.

        • Lemure

          “even if the app is crap it generates at least some kind of a profit on iOS”

          I would consider that a fault with the iOS platform, not the other way around…

    • guest

      It depends on Market share. Where i live ios has less then 5% market. If you want to app or any mobile related services(like ecommerce) to reach mass users you need to have a Android app.

    • Will

      Did you read the article? Maybe, just maybe, people from Android are less likely to purchase a service because it’s always subpar to the iOS version? Personally, I think it’s the strong open source community behind Android offering services for free.

      Regardless, branding people as cheap is the lazy man’s excuse to approach this.

    • Rich

      I do not agree at all. Myself and many others buy tons of apps. We just buy ones that are actually made for android and work well on android.

    • Dennis Forbes

      Play Store payouts to developers have, in the preceding three years, gone from $0.9B, to $2.0B, to $5.0B. At current growth rates it is poised to exceed Apple payouts within the year.

      They are both wonderful, lucrative platforms, but arguments like yours are expiry-date-coming-due relics.

    • I wish I could pay for some of the apps I use so they could get better. I’d be so happy to do so.

  • Dan Nolan

    Except for the fact that android is garbage, the developer tools suck and it’s not worth supporting or working on because only poor people use it

    • At least poor people are smart enough to choose something that is worth much more than some extravagant fancy ishit.

    • sudarshanpbhat

      Whatever you’re saying is baseless. As a developer, I have loved making beautiful apps for Android. May be you are not familiar with how much Android has evolved lately, for example try using the Android Studio IDE and you will know what I’m saying.

    • Misanthrope

      You obviously don’t know what you are talking about…

    • Dave Newton

      I’m not poor. I use Android on both phone and tablet.

      What a ridiculous statement you’ve made.

    • kpbird

      This garbage has 80% of market share globally. My friend take walk on street and observe how many people are having expensive Android phone.

    • Just check market share and if your statement is really true then world’s most part is POOR and indirectly you said you are amongst the Richest people! Wow, Congrats!

    • opendna

      WhatsApp sold for over $19 billion USD. Not worth working on, eh?

  • Because screw Android, that’s why. As a developer, I certainly don’t enjoy working with inferior technology like Java, various Java-based I.D.E. crap and other catastrophic artifacts of the Android ecosystem.

    MS-DOS is much more developer-friendly than this disgusting Java stuff.

    • sudarshanpbhat

      Your hate for ‘Java’ is your personal problem.

      • Well sure. And many good developers share this “problem”, to an extent.

        We’re also constantly looking for Java&Android developers, and that’s indeed a problem: those who enjoy Java are mostly so very inferior they cannot write a `for` loop, let alone FizzBuzz (no kidding).

    • Dave Newton

      Having done extensive development on both, that’s rubbish.

    • Francesco Belladonna

      You can use scala without any downside. And scala is a very modern language and it works with all java libs (compile to bytecode)

  • Photis Patriotis

    I agree with the author that the big issue is startup mentality, but the problem is that is not going to change just because Android engineers want it to. A lot of companies big and small view iOS as their first foray into native apps for a lot of reasons that are really hard to combat effectively and there is not really a point in arguing here about.

    However, I think that the *way* porting is done could make a big difference. In my opinion, if you do it right, it shouldn’t be considered or feel like porting.

    I work at a mobile products agency (www.prolificinteractive.com) that does both iOS and Android, and of course, most of our clients want iOS first when they’re doing their first app.

    Our Android business, on the other hand is usually for clients with existing iOS apps. This is where it actually gets interesting, because our engineering team gets to learn about a whole new business, UI, and architecture, and we have an opportunity to consult on how to really make it work for Android. We even have designers do Android-specific designs and we pitch this as very important to clients because even though the branding and overall feel needs to be the same, the iOS experience is qualitatively different than the Android one.

    Is this porting? Barely.

    The Android eco-system is also a lot more receptive to open-source, and it allows for another avenue of interesting work for engineers.

    Again, my experience at an agency rather than a startup has made me realize that, as an engineer, it’s super hard changing the overall business objectives of a company (i.e. going Android-first instead of iOS-first). But, engineers and engineering leaders can make sure that the virtues of Android are pushed within the organization so their jobs are interesting and their products are appreciated by users.

    • Andy Bakun

      The “branding” argument never made much sense to me. A value of brand things consistently is in order to remind people of you where ever and when ever they are exposed to you. Yet there is a push to make IOS apps have the look and feel of IOS in-general, which is good from a UX consistency standpoint. But this isn’t branding your brand, it’s branding Apple’s brand. Additionally, the number of people who switch between using IOS and Android regularly *and* use the same app on both platform is *extremely* rare, rare enough to be non-existent. So similarity of branding between the different platform apps is meaningless.

      • Photis Patriotis

        I meant branding in the the first sense of it. The value of a company hiring us to build their mobile product is that it is unique and specific to their brand / products. If we were just building iOS apps that looked & worked like every other iOS app, you’re missing a big opportunity to impact your user-base.

        Using Material Design is the same principal. It is just a set of guidelines for how to have Android users understand and navigate easily. This is, again, added value for redesigning apps when “porting”.

        I don’t think it’s a good idea to build a product that doesn’t have a strong brand on its own and is not above and beyond the guidelines. If you care about your brand, it should transcend platforms. It’s not about making the experience the same on Android as iOS, it’s about how you want your users (in any platform) to interface with your company.

        • Andy Bakun

          Of course; we’re in agreement. There’s nothing that says that the experience needs to be the same on both platforms in order to be branded to/for the experience you want the users to have when interfacing with the company. But when doing a “port” is requested, the goal often seems to be to reuse as much of the work/research done for the first platform when creating it on the second platform, and this often falls flat. How your agency approaches creating the branding experience on a new platform looks like a better way to do it — but I’m sure that’s more expensive than a plain “port” when someone just wants to get something out the door to have checkboxes next to the list of mobile platforms they support.

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  • s73v3r

    No, you were banned because you were a fucking idiot, plain and simple. You were given multiple warnings, and you kept burying your head in the sand.

    • fbl

      You mean that ripping off the identity and content of several youtube channels was a bad idea ?
      I would have never guessed !
      It is an outrage that this guy got banned.
      I seriously wonder if this guy is not in fact a troll, such a blind naivety seems impossible.

    • Lono

      If 3 strikes policy is applied to the Internet, Google would have been banned long time ago by
      ICANN.

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  • Anshul

    I am an Android dev. Our company has a trading app(IG) in ios and Android both. And believe me the

    Android app is rock solid and performs well.I disagree with the author but i believe its not hard find the Android dev but skilled Android dev.Some people’ s comment i read was The IDE is not good i would recommend use Android studio with all the google’s recommended tools you would love to be an Android dev.

    • tard

      You are an indian. Your opinion is irrelevant.

    • I believe Android is equally as good as iOS, or even more. But I don’t like the IDE, even Android Studio which uses Gradle for building. For even the smallest changes, gradle takes about 2 – 3 minutes to build and it drives me crazy.

  • America

    When you develop for Android, you’re developing for China and India. Moreover, you’re supporting China and India because one walk through Google’s office will reveal how many Chinese and Indians they hire over qualified Americans to build their Google products, which include Android.
    iOS is American. It’s used by Americans. It was made by Americans. I’m tired of these Obama-care touting liberal vegan pro-immigration H1B supporting activists arguing for the case of Android.

  • Derek Stutsman

    I disagree. I think porting apps is fun! Porting is a best case scenario, even – it’s a from-scratch app but with 100% known requirements!

    The real reason people don’t want to code for Android is the tools are terrible, and there’s no money in their app store. These two factors combine to make it unappealing to learn on your own time.

  • V900

    Actually, desirable mobile users worldwide ALSO tend to be iOS users. Desirable as in: Is willing and able to use online services and spend money on them.

    Sure, 100$ Android devices might have
    a larger share of the market, but look at the usage statistics for first world countries: Europe, Japan etc. The rates of iOS users are similar to the US: 30-50%.

    In countries like China and India, the affluent users are also for the most part iOS users.

  • Lono

    80% people in Taiwan use Android, but most app downloads comes from iOS. Market share doesn’t imply download share.

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  • Most of your observations about the lack of commitment and focus on Android are damn right.

    I’ve been in the position of developing iOS-first and then having to look for Android developers: one might think is hard to find iOS developers but it’s actually harder to find good Android ones.

    Up until now all I though about was that lower barriers to join Android development (it costs less to join the development program, and there are a lot of Java developers around the world) created a lot of shallow involvement from a technical standpoint. For iOS development you have to learn quite an hostile language and platform from scratch (Objective-C then, and now you have to deal with Swift, and, oh, the provisioning portal), and then you have to pay a lot more to join the program: all of this creates a way higher barrier and then a much more serious involvement.

    It’s harder to find good Android developers because most of them just “play around” with the SDK and maybe pull off some crappy apps just because it’s easier to do so for Android — so it’s lack of commitment from developers’ side, which may be hugely related with the lack of commitment on companies’ side that you are highlighting, but in my opinion the lower barrier is a strong feature of the Android ecosystem that negatively influences both companies and developers alike.

  • Ege

    This is a lame outcry, in my opinion, no offense

  • nuthinking

    As you briefly say, startups don’t do Android first because they don’t have time. First step for startups is to create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to evaluate the idea. Until this is faster/cheaper to do on iOS, less devices to test or design for, Android will be the second choice for startups.

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  • Джек

    Hey, I’m awesome android developer! I would like to work at NY, but… I live in Russia. ;(

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  • Luisfer Romero Calero

    Companies around there:

    I am an experienced and motivated Android developer. Just pay me well (decent salary and/or company benefits), offer me a nice team and work environment, and tell me why should I work for you. That means: is the Android app going to be meaningful, or just a second plate for iOS? Is the app going to be useful for the society, or just another Tinder / Facebook thing? Am I going to enjoy the process of creating it?

    I think I am not stuck-up by asking these questions, but my experience tells me that this is very important even before starting working somewhere. I guess, that’s why it’s hard to find Android developers. We kind of “smell” some red flags before joining a project / company.

  • Yuanchen Deng

    Hi,I am an Android dev come from China.Our company has an app just called “impi”,which focus on chat based pictures.Now,we’d read you code of HorizontalVariableListView,it’s pretty good! But,we even have several problems about the effect of horizontal slide:

    We slide pictures as quickly as possible,the pictures scroll to a certain speed, when the time to stop scrolling,we need an effect of smooth stop and the current picture is in the middle(just like the app on IOS:Pixotale), at the present of this project, the picture is not in the middle.

    Now,we developers have no ways to solve this problems.Can you help with us? Anyway,if you provide a demo for us for the better.
    You may contact us with the e-mail below:

    dyuanchen@gmail.com

    Thanks!