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.
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