4 lessons from my first 9 months as CEO

In this slightly up close and personal post, I outline 4 things I’ve learned with a major work and life change. This post is aimed to walk through a few main points of reflection or possible recommendations when the time comes for anyone to take on a new and challenging opportunity. 

Now, this is based on my own experience 9 months in as the CEO of SlashData. It’s a few things I recommend someone to consider when changing roles, maybe you are becoming a first-time manager, taking on a larger team, and/or becoming a parent. 

If you prefer the executive summary, the gist is: Whatever change you may be planning to make in your personal life and career, it’s my personal experience that you should start preparing early, but be ready for surprises along the way. You shouldn’t start a new role on day one – think about what you can do ahead of time to make the transition smoother. Especially in leadership roles, you might have become the manager, good for you! But, on the flip side, everyone has to have you as a manager now. For more context, keep reading. 🙂 

#1 Plan everything but be ready for surprises.

Some sayings are cliche for a reason. You know what they say, how life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans? Well, I felt the irony of that one when I found out I was pregnant 1 week after taking over as CEO. Travelling to my first board meeting, sick as a dog and not able to say anything because it was too early and the doctor’s advice is to keep it between you and your partner for a while. Obviously I want a family, so this was great, but we have to admit, the timing is also funny. I mean, I didn’t even get a headstart before the nausea sunk in. 

That said, having seen other women have children and come back from pregnancy leave and continue to grow in their roles successfully, gave me a lot of encouragement. I look up to the women both at SlashData and not, that have done this before me, especially before the era of remote working having to wear business suits and pumps. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be up at 7am and get panty hose on with the belly and swollen feet. Even in the world of remote working though, having a family and working full-time is really an accomplishment for any working parent. Fingers crossed I do it well.

#2. Don’t wait till day one.

I was very lucky to have a founder that was open  to me “soft-launching” the role 3 months early. Taking over a leadership role should always have some overlap or shadowing. Since I was already part of the Leadership Team I was very attuned to the ins and outs, but the relationship dynamic changed with me and my colleagues. If you are moving into a new management role, you need to understand and comprehend, there is a relationship shift between you and everyone you will be working with. I hope you expect this before you take the role. Actually let me say things a bit differently. If you really want to be liked by everyone you work with, don’t take the job, it’s going to be very disappointing. Not everyone will be happy you have been promoted and that’s ok. If you are lucky someone will be excited, but people need time to adjust and you will need to give it to them. 

Changes like this need to happen in steps. If you can, advocate to allow some time to shadow, be present in your predecessor’s 1-2-1s with your future reports and in cross team meetings. Be aware of what’s being discussed within the leadership team (or the team you will be taking on) and how things are being addressed. Decide what you care about keeping within the agenda and if you might change something, prepare your thoughts as early as possible. Once you take over, have open discussions with your direct reports on what they also think about what they would like to keep, change, or what’s missing for them.

On the one hand, people needed time to adjust, while others had nearly immediate expectations. Be aware, people will not be as open with you once they know you will be the new boss. They won’t tell you directly things you might have discussed openly just a few days earlier. This was something I didn’t consider ahead of time, from the day colleagues were notified, some saw me in a different light. There was an immediate expectation that I would be a different person, take a different approach as to how I communicate, even if they had known me for years. They weren’t as candid any more, they may have been more protective of their opinions, which also meant I needed now to be more careful how I spoke about the future of the company or a new project. Was I speaking hypothetically or sharing a plan that they should expect and take action on? Things change when you take over. It may take some time for you to adjust to this new reality. I took the honest approach, which I recommend. Open communication to explain that the adjustment is on both sides, you also need time to adjust to the new expectations from your new direct reports. Ask for that time from those that may have immediate expectations from you. You probably won’t fit their expectations anyway, your leadership style will be different from your predecessor and the leadership style of others on your team. Ask for that time to find your bearings.

#3. Let your team tell you what to do

Even more importantly for me before I took over, was taking over a strategic workshop we run a couple times a year. This would be a type of all hands meeting for the Leadership team. If you can, take this over early and design it to fit what you need it to achieve.

I took over the last one in Q4 of the previous year. 

Even though I hadn’t officially started, I was able to re-design the structure of the meeting to fit what we needed for everyone to feel aligned. They needed not just to be aware of where we are going in my first year as CEO, they needed to own the direction. You’ve taken over, but everything is not about you or what you think should happen right now. Create the opportunity and the safe space for your new team to build your next steps together. You should have an opinion, but let them bring up the issues, and jointly decide on a plan to address them. Let them suggest what your priorities are, chances are you will agree with them too. 

Was it perfect? No of course not, I’m a newbie afterall. But, the time was extremely well spent. I planned a workshop that would set the pace for the next year. Everyone gave feedback for improvement, but also said they felt we were more aligned than ever and they knew what to expect in the next year. What everyone seemed to feel at the end of it was above all clarity about what’s next. For a new CEO, I couldn’t ask for more than that. Doing this BEFORE I took over, was 100% the right move. We all brought up the issues, we collaboratively came up with the plan with actions on what to do about them for the next year. We are still executing things we decided in that meeting, 9 months later.

#4 Life happens to everyone, even you

Now it’s possible you may be reading this while I’m off on my maternity leave. Yes, I took the job and 9 months in, I’m taking some time to have a baby. I plan to be in touch and have created a schedule for my leave to allow for time off and check-ins with the team, but I will be 100% off for some time and I know the leadership team has things covered in my absence. After that, we’ve planned a schedule to manage all the major events of Q4 and annual strategic planning to allow me to be on a half time schedule. That said, this is not a model I am advocating for others. This is simply what I felt would work for me at this moment. I have the help and support from my partner and family to allow me to have a flexi-schedule. All parents should have the opportunity and the right to take as much leave as they need while building their families.

It’s up to us to define what leadership and mother-hood looks like. As a first-time mother, and CEO I know I won’t have it all figured out the first time round, but looking at all the women that have done it before me and watching everyone at SlashData take their place in moving the company forward, it gives me the comfort and confidence that I can take the time I need. I always thought I would step back from career progression when I had a family, as it turns out I’m pressing the gas pedal instead.

Introducing SlashData’s new CEO

SlashData has come a long way, as has its DNA. It has pivoted and transformed itself several times. It has moved from a tiny consulting shop shedding light into the future of mobile software – to a leading analyst firm helping the world understand developers. 

Our reputation reached all corners of DevRel ecosystem thanks to our Future Developer Summit series, podcast, our Developer Marketing and Relations book written by the who’s who in the DevRel scene. 

With every transition, and through every phase we‘ve continued to develop as a business, learning from our mistakes and successes, running post-mortems, and always asking “what can we do better”.

And now SlashData is changing yet again. We opened up custom research in 2021 which helped our revenues double over the last year. The market opportunity is growing rapidly, as every software firm is asking how to understand and engage developers who influence the purchase of their software. And it will grow even further, as every company under digital transformation needs to understand how to build and train its newborn developer workforce.

After 15 years since founding SlashData, the time has come for me to move on. I ‘m passing on the CEO baton to Moschoula Kramvousanou. Moschoula has been at SlashData since 2017. She’s served the company, leading the Client Relations team and more recently Strategic Partnerships. She’s played a pivotal role in leading the company’s growth, not just in terms of sales and the growth of her team, but also catalysing several changes across the company and forging valuable relationships with clients and partners. She understands our clients and our market intimately, and has helped propel forward every team.

Moschoula is now taking the team through the next few years of rapid growth, stellar reputation and carrying forward our tradition of innovation, always asking – “what can we do better”. The company could not be in better leadership hands, in a better shape financially, or in a better place for demand and market growth.

Here’s to the road ahead!
Andreas Constantinou
SlashData Founder

The largest developer community: a critical view

When developers evaluate new technologies, one of the elements they often look at is the size and strength of the community surrounding that technology. “Can I get help and support from peers when needed?” It’s one of the reasons why open source technologies tend to be so popular. Conversely, technology vendors regularly signal their virtue with community numbers: “Our product is used by millions of developers, choose us!”

However, there is reason to be critical of this line of thinking. The activity of a core group, or indeed the vendor itself, may matter more to get great support than the sheer number of users. Most technologies are not subject to network effects: they don’t become inherently more valuable when more developers adopt them. Even in open source projects, there is often only a small number of core contributors. Furthermore, vendors may bloat the numbers they report: deliberately, or simply because they don’t have good data available.

At /Data, we’ve been maintaining and publishing estimates on the global developer community for a few years now. Our biannual survey also gives us a solid idea of how those developers are spread across various communities. So let’s see where some of the largest developer communities can be found and how powerful those communities may really be.

What do you mean by “community”?

The largest regions in terms of developer population are North America, with an estimated 4 million active software developers in mid 2018, and Europe (3.8M in the EU28). However, calling these communities is a bit of a stretch. Developers in these regions are fragmented across countries and cities, as well as technologies and languages. North America includes the relatively homogenous USA, but also various Latin American countries. Europe includes software powerhouses like the United Kingdom, but also smaller Eastern European countries. From the perspective of finding peers to support you (or talent to recruit), looking at small groups gathered in cities around specific technologies is more useful than considering the wider geography.

The largest developer program in our research, with over 10 million active users globally, is Google. Google is great at empowering and supporting their community through forums and the likes. This said, they also have excellent developer satisfaction scores when it comes to vendor-driven support of developers with documentation, tutorials and training, tooling, and so on. Google is the default choice for many developers; it’s not clear whether that is due to the strength of their community or due to the value they provide themselves. They of course offer a multitude of technologies, where experience in one product doesn’t necessarily translate into another. Perhaps it’s more correct to view them as a collection of communities.

What about different sectors of the software industry? More than 14 million developers are involved in creating web apps. Once again, we can wonder about the fragmentation in this community across technologies. A sector view may not be the right level of analysis.

Finally, we can look at a technology. There are over 10 million active Javascript developers, making it the most popular programming language in the world today. Here we may see a stronger sense of community, with forums, real-life groups, learning institutions and more being organised specifically around the language.

In short, when we say “community”, it’s not trivially clear what we mean by that. (Neither is “developer” for that matter, but that’s a story for another blog post). Community size is not necessarily an indicator of homogeneity, coherence or level of activity. That makes it less than straightforward to assess the value of a developer community.

developer community

How (not) to count developers

If you’re interested in estimates of developer communities, you will have no doubt seen very high numbers being floated. Developer tools routinely reports user numbers in the millions; communities who claim a broad reach, like Stack Overflow or Github, will report tens of millions of developers. At /Data, we are skeptical of such numbers, in particular if you intend to use them to make adoption decisions.

First, because it is not clear where each source draws the line in what they consider to be an (active) developer. Are IT professionals, DevOps, or sysadmins included? What about people who once made an account, but never actively used the product?

However, the bigger issue seems to be where such numbers are sourced. Most estimates floating around the internet are based on (unique) pageviews, downloads, IP addresses, and the likes. All of these are susceptible to a multiplier effect, not in the least due to multi-machine and multi-browser software testing, frequent cleaning of caches and cookies for testing, repeat downloads of developer tools, and development automation (e.g. build servers). Abandoned accounts may significantly skew the estimates as well. Sometimes, numbers we’ve come across seem to be based on nothing at all.

Measurements like that are only a vague indication of the number of actual active developers and therefore of the strength of the community. They tend to be not comparable across vendors. Not to mention that it is in the self-interest of the vendor to report the biggest number they can find. Indicators that indicate actual developer activity, like Monthly Active Users, are exceedingly rare.


Whether you’re a developer thinking about the direction of your career, or someone who is deciding on which technology to adopt, the question of how strong the supporting community is, is perfectly legitimate. To asses the true benefit of community, however, make sure to use the right scope and reliable, meaningful numbers. On our part, we will continue to provide you with our best estimates of active software developers, using sources that are direct evidence of recent coding activity.

If you are interested in having a look at a list of the largest developer communities in terms of active users have a look at the 1 Million Developer Club .

Virtual reality: Where did it all go wrong?

In this article, I’m going to talk about how I perceive the mainstream consumer audience to have rejected virtual reality, and suggest that its child, augmented reality, may be the Slope of Enlightenment that convinces us to buy in. While these are my views alone, towards the end of the piece, I’ve dug out some data from software developers around the world who are working with AR and VR. 

Tomorrow’s world, today

I worked in the smartphone industry before it came of age. Our mission was “a smartphone in every pocket” at a time when simple feature phones like the Motorola RAZR were the must-have communications device. Within a few years of our early projects, the competitor, Apple, launched the iPhone. The rest is history. The App Store opened its doors, the stars aligned, the technology dream was realised and smartphones went on to rule the world.

I grew up in a time of change. We had a BBC microcomputer before I was ten years old. As a teenager, I sashayed along to the sounds of the eighties on a tape Walkman, and later mobile CD players and minidiscs. Then Napster, now Spotify. Change. The cadence of technological evolution was a rapid heartbeat, sounded out by the Internet, mobile phones and a maturing software development industry, which I joined enthusiastically.

Maybe I just got used to an unrealistic pace of change? But whatever happened to virtual reality (VR)? Its heartbeat seems to have flatlined. Nothing much has changed in the years that have passed since the “year of VR” (pick your year, we’ve had a few of them), which turned out to be nothing much of the sort. When I look at my mobile phone of a few years ago, or my website developed in 2004, I think how clunky and quaint they look compared to the sleek form factor and execution possible today. But when I look at the VR headsets of yesteryear and today and compare what they deliver? Not so much.

Take a look at this slideshow of legacy VR hardware. Sure, we’ve come some way since the Sensorama, but the Sega VR of 1993 wasn’t significantly more dorky than today’s HTC Vive Cosmos, was it?

Does anybody really want to strap a heavy, nerdy headset on that makes you suffer motion sickness after a few minutes use, tethers you to a PC, dulls your senses to the real world outside the headset and causes you to trip over your furniture?

Sure, expensive and shiny, next generation VR devices, are coming. But much of the hardware available is unchanged from when it came to the stores two or more years ago, which means hard-core early adopter audiences aren’t shelling out again.  While availability of more cost-accessible hardware for casual users has increased, e.g. the Oculus Go, the handsets are still expensive enough to give mainstream consumers pause, and typically compromise on aspects of quality that mean the VR experience is somewhat flawed.

Convince people that you’ll change their lives

In the consumer world, expectations for VR were raised early and sadly led to disappointment as it became clear that the ambitions went far beyond what was possible given the technology available. Overpromised, VR lost the attention of mainstream audiences, as it simply could not deliver. In part, this was down to problems with the hardware, such as cumbersome headsets, inadequate processors, poor displays and weak audio. Then there’s the secondary reason: there is no “must-have” killer app that convinces sufficient people that you’ll change their lives.

The two issues go hand in hand (the ‘chicken and egg’ situation) since if technology is inadequate, the content creators see no justification for investing heavily in VR. In turn, this means insufficient buyers and revenue to justify the investment in improving the technology. (It’s worth pointing out that secondary uses for VR, such as in industry, education, healthcare, have a very different uptake/content model, and as such, I’m considering just the mainstream here).

And, as such, entertainment content is the key to unlocking adoption by persuading consumers that VR devices are a must-have item. Like 3D TV, VR has thus far failed to deliver a sufficiently convincing experience that sends people rushing to shops to buy the hardware, despite its costs and the limitations involved.

What’s more, VR content isn’t coming along as fast it used to. Hollywood used it for marketing, e.g. to promote films such as 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and TV shows including Game of Thrones. But this has dropped back as consumer uptake and gratification was found to be negligible.

Venture funding for consumer VR software companies may drop by more than half this year, to $265 million from $576 million a year ago, SuperData says. And this isn’t surprising. According to the SiliconANGLE. VR headset sales have dropped nearly 34% since Q2 2017. Even committed hardware manufacturers are showing signs of taking their foot off the gas. Samsung, which was one of the first to market with its Gear VR mobile headset, didn’t say anything about VR in its major announcements at CES this year.

Is AR the way out of the trough of despair?

Experts predict that new kids on the block, Augmented Reality (AR) on smartphones and Mixed Reality (MR) headsets, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens. will pick up the audience that VR failed to serve. In terms of the Gartner Hype Cycle, AR and MR — the children of VR — look to serve as the Slope of Enlightenment.

AR can be delivered by the hardware already in your pocket. It doesn’t need the level of resolution or processor power demanded by VR. AR is also far less cumbersome than VR and can be used on the go since it doesn’t require total immersion in the experience. The software brings in a virtual element without losing the real world.  

Certainly, analysts report adoption of augmented reality and mixed reality to be on the up, with earnings expected to come from mobile AR apps, particularly games. Google and Apple have strongly embraced this market with ARCore and ARKit, enabling developers to access AR services on more than 500 million devices in the wild today. Both Apple and Google envisage third-party apps and services that use AR as valuable additions to their app stores. Successful apps add billions to the top line (Apple was expected to make $3 billion revenue over 2 years from in-app purchases within the best known AR title to date, Pokémon Go) and high-profile AR apps also strengthen the ecosystems of both companies, boosting other revenue streams.

The smart money is now shifting to companies working on AR and MR. Apple have a rumoured research project to build a headset for delivery next year. Investment in companies working on MR is expected to jump by nearly 50 percent this year, according to SuperData, with sales of MR headsets expected to ramp up significantly and surpass earnings of VR headsets within the next two years.

The above is purely my opinion, based on observations of the tech industry over a number of years and a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to inflated expectations. It’s uninformed by experience at the coalface of development however. So, what do software developers working with AR and VR, have to say?

Software developers working in VR and AR told us…

Here at SlashData we run regular surveys of software developers around the world to uncover valuable insights from those working in mobile, desktop, IoT, cloud, web, game, AR/VR, data science and machine learning.

In our Developer Economics 14th edition report, which is based on a large-scale online developer survey that ran over a period of eight weeks between November and December 2017, we reached over 21,700 respondents in 169 countries. We studied the data returned from developers working in AR/VR and found the following:

  • 25% of professional game developers say they are targeting AR and/or VR. This figure falls slightly to 19% across the entire corpus of developers surveyed.
  • Dedicated VR hardware, such as Oculus Rift, is attractive to games developers (61% report using it), but across all developers working on VR projects, we see a much lower uptake (33%), reflecting its early adopter status in fields other than games.
  • Across all developers working on VR projects, 32% are targeting smartphone hardware using Google’s Cardboard, and 19% are using Daydream View, built into Android Nougat and beyond, reflecting that developers, and consumers, are still experimenting with the technology on their existing hardware.
  • A similar picture emerges for AR, with Android and iOS taking the lead in most popular AR platforms across all developers targeting AR.
  • Of the dedicated AR hardware available, Microsoft HoloLens leads the pack, with Google Glass at Work and MagicLeap trailing behind when the survey ran in late 2017.

We are currently running another survey and we would value your input. If you’re a software developer working in the field of AR or VR, or considering doing so, please consider answering the questions. If you’re not a developer but are working in the AR/VR field, pass the link on to your developer friends and colleagues.

Every survey completed has a chance to win Oculus Rift +Touch Virtual Reality System to test your creations (or simply play around), Samsung S9 PLus$200 towards the software subscription of your choice, or other prizes from the prize pool worth $12,000!

Plus, if you refer other developers to take the survey, you may win up to $1,000 in cash. Just don’t forget to sign up before you take the survey, so that we know you want to be included in the prize draw!

What do you say, are you in?

Developer Marketing Leaders Are Back for the Future Developer Summit 2018

Future Developer Summit is back September 13, Menlo Park, CA, bringing together 60+ VP & director-level champions of developer marketing in an intimate invite-only setting to share knowledge, celebrate innovative thinking and discuss the course for the future.

Continue reading Developer Marketing Leaders Are Back for the Future Developer Summit 2018

Welcome to SlashData: the next 10 years.

We‘ve come a long way since VisionMobile was founded in 2005. I founded the company just after I had left Orange (the telco) as a means to build a strategy consultancy for the era of mobile. That was two years before Android and iOS were introduced to the world, and ended up impacting every single industry out there. We, much like the tech industry, have come a long way since then. We ‘ve expanded our research scope from mobile to almost everything touched by software – surveying 40,000 developers annually across mobile, IoT, cloud, desktop, web, games, ML and AR/VR. We pivoted from a strategy consultancy to an analyst firm helping top-100 tech platforms understand developers and measure developer satisfaction with their products. And it’s time to change our name to celebrate that change. But before we get there, some history.

In our first five years we were the mobile strategists, advising mobile software companies on their positioning and strategy. We delivered open source training, measured openness, measured the performance of Symbian vs Android, tracked software players in the 100 Million Club, and mapped the hundreds of players making up the Mobile Industry Atlas.

During our next five years (2010-2014) we were the mobile software analysts. Our team of 10 worked with the top telcos and handset makers to help them navigate the software disruption. We deciphered software business models, analysed the annual Mobile Megatrends, and launched the Developer Economics research series, measuring mobile developer attitudes, monetisation and mapping out enterprise dev tools.

Our third and final phase started in 2015 when we evolved to an analyst firm, launching a set of subscription services. We’ve now found our purpose, earning the trust of Microsoft, Intel, Google, Amazon, Facebook and many more top-100 technology firms, who we help to understand developers and measure developer satisfaction with their products. Our Developer Economics research service now surveys 40,000 developers annually, across mobile, IoT, cloud, desktop, web, games, Machine Learning and AR/VR, from hobbyists to professionals and across 150 countries.

It’s time to change our name to reflect that mission. SlashData (slashdata.co) reflects how deeply we understand developers with data, both of which are at the core of our business. “/” is a common symbol in software development, while “data” captures the DNA of our business, and the core competitive value we deliver to clients.

As SlashData, we have an exciting roadmap ahead of us. Helping the world understand developers, from population sizing, to key developer metrics and where to reach devs; and helping the top-100 tech firms measure developer satisfaction, and competitive developer attitudes. You’ll see us launch a lot of new services and formats. Our second Future Developer Summit is being held on Oct 10 in Palo Alto, and watch this space for our developer satisfaction awards launching very soon!



P.S. Even the re-branding project has been a major learning. We first asked the team to come up with a new name. We flooded a spreadsheet with funny-looking to boring sounding names. But we didn’t feel that, we, the management team had the expertise to ask the right questions – should we keep “Vision”? We imagined puzzled clients hearing a name they haven’t heard before. Should the name be serious or whimsical? Do we need to make the domain name availability a priority or a second thought? So we went to an external agency (who shall remain nameless) crying for help. A month later, we had some more names – but we simply felt they did not express our identity or sector well enough. And just as we were getting to a 404, Christos our designer, suggested /data. It was love at first sight for most of the team. So we went for a bold change – a name that does not carry a legacy to the past, but one that will carry us forward for the next 10 years.


What gets desktop developers out of bed in the morning?

Despite all the hype around the death of the PC and the enormous amount of media attention focused on mobile, cloud and IoT, the humble desktop is still the biggest part of the developer economy. There are more professional developers working on desktop applications than any other sector. There’s also more revenue in desktop development. It’s understandable that the media focuses on the exciting growth areas and no-one is arguing that the desktop is likely to make a major comeback. However, while there are still significant quantities of both users and revenue on the desktop there will be developers creating new software for it. While those developers are still adding enough value for the users, the users will stick around. Will those developers still building for the desktop stay loyal to their platforms, or be tempted away into exciting new growth areas? The answer will depend on individual developers’ goals and motivations.

There being enough money to pay developer salaries, in any area, is obviously a very important factor. Even in gaming, where mobile revenue has grown at an astonishing rate in recent years, the desktop still accounts for more than a quarter of revenues. In the enterprise software market, which dwarfs gaming at well over $300 billion annually, desktops still account for the majority of the revenue, with cloud-based software and services gaining fast. Then we have e-Commerce, which in total is likely to approach $2 trillion this year. Mobile devices are rapidly eating into and expanding this market but they’re still only just over 30% of transactions and closer to 20% of revenue. However, although this looks healthy for the desktop currently, the growth trajectories will encourage a lot of developers to move towards mobile or cloud services development in medium term. Even so, our research says that money is not the most important thing for desktop developers.

Individual developer goals, motivations, and success metrics vary significantly and some do put revenues first. Many more developers measure their success by the knowledge gained, or users reached, ahead of revenue or cost savings. Opportunities to learn and reach users should remain plentiful on the desktop for some time. Steve Jobs made a great analogy as he predicted the beginning of the post-PC era:

“I’m trying to think of a good analogy. When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them.”

The desktop PC isn’t going away any time soon and the enormous developer economy based around it isn’t either. Although there are far more cars than trucks today, the trucking industry is still worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Also, new technologies may reach serious commercial scale on trucks before cars. Autonomous trucks platooning are likely to be widely deployed long before consumer transport in autonomous cars. The economics of electric vehicles also makes even more sense for trucks than it does for cars. Similarly, although Virtual Reality (VR) will probably go truly mass market via mobile devices, the early market is likely to be dominated by PC-based VR systems. Developers wanting to push forward the latest cloud technologies in the enterprise will find their audiences demand desktop (at least web) clients on the front-end, with mobile currently more of a bonus than an absolute must-have feature in many cases.

Anyone interested in the ongoing survival and health of the desktop platform needs to understand the developers that are building for it and why they do so. Those that want to tempt developers away from the largest ecosystem to exciting new ones also need to understand what motivates those developers. VisionMobile’s latest Desktop Developer Segmentation 2016 report applies our proven segmentation model to the world’s largest developer talent pool. The report is based on data from our 10th edition Developer Economics survey, which ran in October-­November 2015 and reached more than 17,000 desktop developers in over 150 countries, of which over 2,500 answered detailed questions on their desktop development work. We use this data to generate a wealth of insights about desktop developers: What drives them? What else are they working on? What languages, platforms, and tools do they use? What categories of application do they build and how much money do they make?

A proven model for targeting IoT developers

Not all developers are the same, and their needs vary wildly, so any attempt to effectively address them all with a single messaging and outreach strategy is doomed to fail. At the same time it would be impractical to have one strategy per developer, so a more intelligent approach is needed.

What if you could identify a handful of developer personas, or segments, each with a very distinct set of needs and interests? What if on top of that set of developer personas you also had some guidance as to how to address each one of them, what to include in your outreach campaigns targeted at them in order to make them more effective?

Our new IoT Segmentation report provides exactly that. Building on our proven segmentation model it sheds light to the IoT developer personas, their needs, and the message most suited for them. As such, it presents you with a valuable developer marketing tool of proven effectiveness. Taking a deep-dive into the segmentation model the report is an indispensable tool for those who wish to:

  • Optimize the value proposition of their developer product
  • Identify the type of developer they are best positioned to be targeting
  • Fine-tune their messaging and outreach strategy, so that it resonates with the developer segments of interest.

We know, from the data presented in the report , that 63% of IoT developers are fun-loving Hobbyists or Explorers, but they aren’t the only segment more interested in gaining knowledge and experience than making money, and reaching out to that audience requires a specialist approach.

To further illustrate our segmentation model we have prepared a very detailed infographic presenting the 8 different IoT segments that are formed based on the goals that determine developer choices , namely : Self-improvement, Direct Revenues and Improving an existing business.  


1000 skills: Amazon Alexa as a metaphor for the IoT developer community

iot segmentation
If you haven’t heard about Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, and its incarnation as the Echo consumer device, you should definitely check it out. Alexa is a centerpiece of Amazon’s Smart Home push, and quickly growing to become one of the most promising attempts at making a successful Smart Home hub, connecting all other devices around the house together. What’s more, Amazon has opened Alexa to developers, who can incorporate it in their own devices as well as add new functionality to the assistant, in the form of so-called Skills (services, integrations, or use cases). In the beginning of June, Amazon announced that over 1,000 Skills are now available on the Alexa platform.

But today, I want to talk not so much about Alexa’s merits as such, but use it as a metaphor for the IoT developer community. IoT developers, too, are in the process of gaining a proverbial 1,000 skills, and are growing fast to become the centerpiece of the IoT economy.

Like Alexa, the IoT developer community is seeing impressive early traction. The number of IoT developers is clocking in at over 5 million, and growing at almost a million developers per year. This said, both Alexa and the IoT community are still in the early stages, searching for their place in the world. In Alexa’s case, most recent reviews of the device still focus on: “what can I do with this thing?” Is it a speaker? Is it another Siri? The Skills store is still in its infancy, with little curation or discoverability. IoT developers, on their end, are still discovering what they can do with this flood of new IoT technology coming their way. VisionMobile’s IoT developer segmentation model groups developers in eight segments based on their key motivations to do IoT. A whopping 63% of IoT developers are either Hobbyists, developing for fun, or Explorers, learning the technology to put themselves in a good position to capture future opportunities. That percentage is much higher in IoT than in other sectors, like mobile or cloud.

By the way, Alexa has competition, too, in the form of Google Home, a device similar to Echo and powered by Google Now that the company announced in May, and Apple’s Siri, which it opened to developers at its WWDC event in June. The competition of such major platform players creates uncertainty about the future. The lack of clear leaders in the market is a key part of why developers are exploring – developers don’t want to commit to a platform just yet.

Back to Alexa, whose Skills are exploding – there is a 7x increase in Skills supply since January. IoT developers are also working hard at improving their skill set. The most important measure of success for IoT developers is how much knowledge and experience they have gained. Learning is the main goal for Explorers, representing almost a third of the developer population. But it goes far beyond that In a sense, all segments of IoT developers – not just Explorers – are still exploring opportunities and figuring out what their personal position in this space will be.

iot segmentation report

Amazon first goal is not to be a consumer electronics company. The e-commerce giant is in the habit of selling its devices at a price close to the cost of production. It gains instead from being on the first row – right in front of you – at the moment you decide you want to buy something. Likewise, most IoT developers are not in a rush to make bucketloads of money. They don’t prioritise making revenues straight away. As we said, learning is more important for a sense of success than how much money is made, how many users are reached, or how many costs are saved. On a personal level, culture and emotion play a huge role in the lives of developers; more so than business objectives.

Most IoT developers are Hobbyists and Explorers, learning is a key motivator, and business success is not (yet). If you run an IoT platform, developer tool, or API, or you’re marketing to IoT developers for any other reason, these insights might be counter-intuitive for you. If you want your product and messaging to resonate with IoT developers, it must match their current state of mind. In our new IoT Developer Segmentation report, we dive much deeper into our data from 4,400 IoT developers to provide you with an effective marketing tool that describes the causal motivators that drive developer decisions. Check it out!

Google’s Instant Apps is the power grab that ActiveX couldn’t make

At this year’s Google I/O conference the search giant announced Instant Apps – Android applications dynamically downloaded, installed, and executed, with a single click. Slick functionality, certainly, but functionality which comes at the price of undermining the openness of Android as a platform. Instant Apps will be part of Google Play Services, not Android, and so alternative distributions will be left in the cold.

20 years ago Microsoft tried something very similar, and with the same justification. Microsoft failed, so it’s worth taking a moment to see why Google will probably succeed.

It was 1996 when Microsoft broke out of the browser sandbox with ActiveX, a technology providing the same functionality as Instant Apps. Just like Google, Microsoft’s primary motivation was extending its control over the platform, but Google will likely succeed where Microsoft didn’t, so what’s altered since ActiveX failed to change the world?

ActiveX was designed to compete with Java Applets – a technology from Sun which solved the same problem using Java. Java Applets run within a slightly-larger sandbox, designed to prevent the applet doing any damage, while permitting more functionality than a web page alone.

ActiveX didn’t come with a sandbox: downloaded code runs native with all the performance, and capabilities, that implies. These days an ActiveX download requires user approval before running, but at launch the only protection was the digital signature from Microsoft.

Which wasn’t enough. The public overwhelming recoiled from the idea of letting downloaded applications automatically run without a sandbox, while the Java Applet sandbox proved woefully insecure. Modern browsers (Chrome and Edge) don’t support either type of downloaded content by default, forcing companies still reliant on ActiveX to use IE or install extensions.

But the concept was valid, and sandboxed content is more popular than ever. JavaScript is part of almost all web sites, and executes in a sandbox in much the same way as a Java Applet. Native applications, meanwhile, are getting more restricted as mobile platforms pioneered the idea of applications that could be trusted a bit, but not entirely.

Android and iOS provide granular security, a sandbox-with-extensions. An application can ask for permission to access the camera, but won’t be allowed to make phone calls if it didn’t request the right.

At first glance Instant Apps look very much like ActiveX. Digitally-signed applications will be downloaded and executed without user interaction, and will be able to access device resources which would normally sit outside the sandbox (such as the camera and NFC chip). These applications will be signed by Google, but the user will not be given a list of requested permissions, and will not have the option of rejecting them either. While it might seem that Instant Apps inherent all the downsides of ActiveX, it’s been a long time since ActiveX failed as a web technology, and much has changed.

ActiveX suffered from having to support multiple operating systems, and slow download times, but Instant Apps are only on Android and when a single web page already averages more than 2MB* the additional load of a small app isn’t significant.

Which brings us back to security, and why Google will do a much better job than Microsoft ever could. The fact is that Android, and other modern operating systems, are compartmentalised into sandboxes at every level, making the sandbox the default operating environment rather than an exception to the rule.

Once it had been approved, and digitally signed, an ActiveX application could do anything – write to arbitrary memory addresses, interfere with data stored by other applications, rewrite the OS to act as a reproduction engine (the latter being why we call them “viruses”), enjoying a level of freedom denied to any approved application running on Android, no matter who approves it.

The architecture of Android means that Instant Apps won’t rely on the certification process of Google Play. They will still run within the sandbox which surrounds all Android applications. Even more importantly – all the Instant Apps will be delivered from Google’s servers. That means a misbehaving app can be instantly removed from circulation, and Google will curate the applications to ensure none make use of permissions they don’t need.

The paternal management is new. A company like Google can keep a careful eye on how Instant Apps develop, and tweak their capabilities as they go along. The permanent beta has become Agile development, and the company managing the platform has become a guiding hand which won’t let go.

Instant Apps will have security issues, the Android compartmentalism isn’t perfect and there will be a few well-reported breaches, but Google will move swiftly to patch and secure the system. Alternative distribution stores, tolerated on Android, will likely be excluded from Instant Apps, and users won’t be permitted to opt out of Google’s control.

Competing distributions of Android will struggle to provide similar functionality, and even if they do it won’t be compatible, bringing Android more under Google’s control. Instant Apps will provide useful functionality, just as Google has been demonstrating at its developer conference, but at the cost of locking out the competition.

Instant Apps will succeed where ActiveX failed. Better compartmentalisation and centralised management will secure it, and users will appreciate it, but the real winner will be Google who squashes alternative app stores and outmanoeuvres alternative Android distributions, all in the interest of providing greater web-site functionality.

* http://www.httparchive.org/interesting.php?a=All&l=Apr%201%202016