Mac Developer Survey 2020

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Apple started the long-expected makeover of the Mac last year, with blazing fast new Apple Silicon chips, one of the biggest shake-ups to hit the iconic computer in years. The transition opens up exciting new opportunities for users, and developers as well. At the same time, not everything was rosy for Apple as it was buffeted by unprecedented criticism of its App Store policies, from developers both big and small, over its restrictions and commission rate. 

With everything else going on in 2020, it was high time to check in on the Mac software community with the fifth annual Mac Developer Survey. We found a resilient market that is primed for new opportunities in 2021. 

Pandemic Impact

2020 was a rough year, upended by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns and quarantine restrictions. The changes forced people to redefine work and their relationship with their computers, Macs included: Some found themselves tied even more to their favorite devices as a substitute channel for in-person social interaction and go-to source for entertainment.

So it might be surprising to hear that the largest group of Mac developers (46%) said they didn’t feel an impact from the coronavirus on their business. Others felt the changes more acutely: 29% said they experienced a negative impact. Among the negative factors, the top responses were: decrease in resources available (investments, remote work hires, new tech, etc.), less time spent developing apps, and a decrease in the number of users. 

At the same time, 24% said they had a positive impact. The top positive responses people felt were: more time spent developing their apps, an increase in the number of users, and an increase in web traffic. ;

Optimism for 2021

We’re always thrilled by what’s coming and Mac developers have never ceased to amaze us. Thankfully, it looks like there is plenty of reason to look forward to working on a Mac this year. Fifty-one percent of app developers plan a major update to an existing app, while 44% are looking to bring an entirely new app to the market. 

In a move that positively surprised and delighted the community, Apple announced a new Small Business Program through which developers who earn less than $1 million in revenue can get a commission cut from 30% to 15%. Among the software makers we surveyed, 90% had a very favorable or rather favorable view of this change. Half of the developers planned to apply for the program. Some of our fave quotes about the move include: “We might consider making [a] Mac App Store version of our app...” and “More money, duh?”

Who are Mac developers? 

This year, for the first time, we asked Mac software devs a little more themselves. It’s been clear to us for a while, but the numbers back it up - most developers work with Macs as a labor of love. 

When you think of software gurus, end users might think of vast server rooms or expansive offices with ping-pong tables and on-demand chefs. In reality, it's a much more solitary endeavor. Sixty-eight percent of Mac app developers work by themselves. A further 22% work in small teams of 2-5 people. 

When asked why they don’t develop for other platforms, 49% of developers said they had no desire. That’s true platform love. 

Most Mac developers have also been doing this for quite a while. The average time their flagship app has been available for Mac was nine years! 

Digital download of full 2020 Mac Developers Survey Results

For the second year running, a summary report of the Mac Developers Survey are available as a digital download PDF doc. You can also find the results from previous years at these links:  from 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016

[Download PDF]

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