Stackoverflow Survey: What Phones Do Developers Prefer?

Over 3.000 people answered the stackoverflow survey and the following were the results interesting when you want to analyse phone-choice for developers. There are numbers from the “What technology products do you own” question:

34.3% (839)
30.4% (744)
6.9% (168)
Other Smart Phone
15.0% (366)
Regular Mobile Phone
25.5% (624)

side by side

The people who answered this survey are pretty smart, they’re all developers who we can agree on being relatively smart. They also all would be able to use and understand complex technology, so features will trump usability in this audience more than in ordinary comsumers. The developers also have pretty good paychecks, so most likely they all can afford all types of smartphones. The list above is not mutually exclusive, so a developer might have an Android, an iPhone and a blackberry device, but added up all percentages are 112,1 … so most likely only ~10% would have two phones.

36.9% are from north america (just to include this AT&T miserablility factor). 7.5% are engaging in mobile development, while many many developers are into web development (from the comments on the stackoverflow post you can see that people were not so sure about this question). Sidenotes:16.1% also have an iPad, 14,4% have a kindle (only 1,6% Nook), 4,7% own an Apple TV. I can’t see any other values play into this, the Java vs. C language proficiency seems pretty equal (they didn’t ask for Objective-C so you can’t draw conclusions from that), well maybe the developers most used operating system is interesting:

18.2% (472)
Mac OS X
15.6% (405)
Windows 7
44.7% (1,158)
Windows XP
18.3% (473)
Windows Vista
3.2% (82)

Is there an iTunes for Linux? From what a quick google search could tell me there isn’t … So are there 18.2% not willing to use an iPhone for that reason?

The only thing I want to add to these numbers is that I would have thought that among developers Android is more common than the iPhone, especially as developers often want to fiddle with the system more. I drew my own conclusions, but as I don’t want to sound like a fanboy again, I just will let you draw your own.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Veronica Belmont

, Posted Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 under Reviews.


  1. So the conclusion you don’t want to draw but hint at is that the iPhone with the iOS is the better phone due to the fact that 4% more of about 3000 developers – so assumed smart poeple – own an iPhone?

    Honestly that seriously sounds like a fanboy ;).

    Also the assumption that “smart people who can handle technology prefer sophisticated features more than common users” is very very bold.

    Even the assumption that developers are smart is from ny experience very questionable.

    The question “what do you own” IMHO does not allow conclusions on “what is better”.

    If you want to conclude into that direction the question should have been “why did you bought what you own” and grab the 10 top reasons and then see which reasons were named first but even this would not result with “what phone/phone OS is better” but will only show which phones suits which (intended) purposes better.

    Without arguing the iPhone(s) are all very good phones but the commitment and almost the relgious and frenetic urge of their users to show that it’s the “superior” phone is very taxing (and makes those ppl who engage in this IMHO fanboys).

    Sorry ithoughts ;) .

  2. From my experience developers are pretty smart compared to most people – and I often heard the “i want to fiddle with the system and don’t want Apple to control most of my preferences and which keyboard I use” argument. If you look at the Linux usage numbers for these developers, you can see that these are at 18.2% while they’ll be at ~1% for usual customers, which is this point.

    I don’t want to say which phone is better here. I do that in other posts, judging from the eyes of an everyday user and openly admitting that I would favor iOS anyways. I just thought that “easier is better” that iOS claims would more count for endusers, and less for developers – nevertheless we don’t have a higher concentration of Android with developers.

    Oh and this is not religious :-) … these are just the first numbers I have seen that resulted from the effective purchasing decisions of developers. And I often value the purchasing decisions and recommendations of developers higher when thinking about buying tech stuff (while I would rate the recommendations for buying fashion lower). The conclusion is yours :-)

  3. Just because “so assumed not so clever endusers” need their stuff “simpler” doesnt conlcude that smart people just because they are smart prefer their stuff complicated.

    IMHO the “easier is better” approach is even more preferred by “smart” people because based on them being smart they can value such a trait even more.

    As a “smart” person I suggest an iPhone to somebody who will be happy and satisfied with the feature set and functionality of an iPhone and I will suggest an Android to somebody who will be happy with the feature set and functionality of an Android phone.
    I told my brother to go for the iPhone 4 but I seriously would not recommend it to my mom.
    That makes me “smart” taking a smart decision/recommendation but that would not make the iPhone a better phone.

    Let me throw something totally different into the mix and setting perspectives even broader. The three links talk about something completly different (in the Monthy Phyton sense of different) but also describe something very crucial about Apple: Apple is a luxury brand.

    If you’re looking out for a car in the 100.000 Euro prize tag class, features can start become 2ndary. Ppl who buy BMW or Mercedes or Audi do this mainly not based on “what is smart” but do this more on an emotional very subjective decision base.

    Also somebody who buys an 100k Mercedes is not going to run around and suggest every Golf 2 driving student to get one as well because his ESP, ABS and Head-up Display is so awesome. Apple users somehow still try.

    Some Symbian Sanity – why Nokia will not join Google Android or Microsoft Phone 7

    Response to above: Why Nokia is still doomed, no matter how many words Tomi Ahonen writes

    Response to the response:
    Nokia Smartphone Strategy and Execution IS Right, even if the Scobleizer can’t find developers who say they like Nokia

    I own an HTC Touch HD still with windows mobile 6.2 and a C905.

  4. I agree – of course you always need to look at the person you want to recommend a phone for. And of course not all developers are smart, but I guess that the average lies over the average of all people. And I really don’t want to say that all other are stupid by that :-)

    The “more features, more control” argument was just the reason that every developer I know who has an Android phone gave me, I know just one non-developer who has one. I guess “cheaper” is the other argument coming to the mix, but that was rarely mentioned.

    I also wouldn’t compare the difference between the two-year-investment of ~1000€ vs. ~600€ (including carrier contracts) with 100k vs. 20k. And I wouldn’t recommend a smartphone to my mum :-D … but if she wanted to use a smartphone, I would recommend an iPhone.

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