With most start-ups and e-commerce companies launching their own apps and pushing these ahead of the web platforms, the demand for app developers has soared. However, finding the right developer remains a challenge for these companies. Every year, about 1.5 million graduate as engineers in India. "The thumb rule is we have five per cent engineers who can be trained to become developers, of which about a fourth become app developers," said Ramanan Ramakrishnan, an app developer and founder & advisor of Innoventes, a Bengaluru-based product development services company. Human resource experts say in the past year, the demand for app developers has risen about 30 per cent. According to online hiring platform Hiree, about half the searches on its platform pertain to app development. "With a rise in the number of smartphone users in India since 2011, the need for various apps to cater to them has also increased. Compared to 2014, the demand has risen about 30 per cent. The demand is more than can be handled," said Preetam Salian, chief executive at HiringMonk, a recruitment agency for start-ups. The challenge lies in finding the right people. Companies say most app developers work on software such as HTML 5 and use software development packs such as Titanium, which bring out apps that aren't user-friendly. The app development segment, on its part, requires engineers who can work on both Android and iOS platforms. "There is a dearth of good native coders in India. We want more developers who can work on Android and iOS apps, but they are difficult to find.
So, a lot of time is spent on providing training to the people on these technologies," said Ashwin Meshram, co-founder of ONE Rewardz, a mobile-based customer engagement solution. "It's also important to design for scalability. App developers should keep an eye on the nuances associated with designing an app rather than depend entirely on designers," said Kiran Menon, chief executive and co-founder of Tydy, an employee engagement and retention app for enterprises. Experts say for every four app-developers on the Android platform, there is only one on iOS. "In the area of iOS, there is a huge dearth of app developers in India. This is a huge problem, as 30-35 per cent of the smartphone devices being used today run on iOS," said Sougata Mukherjea, chief technologist (mobility services), IBM Global Technology Services. He added to address this issue, Indian universities could partner Apple, as that company ran good educational programmes. "iOS is done on the Apple development environment. So, the programming model is completely different. They have their own development platform. You could move from one to other but there is a learning curve," he said. With the surge in demand for app developers, start-ups, as well as established companies, are ready to shell out big bucks for the right people. "Money is not a big issue for these companies. With two-five years of experience, an app developer can make Rs 8-15 lakh (a year), depending on the education background," said Salian of HiringMonk. He added other than fat pay cheques, new start-ups also provided stock options. Asked about the role of app development tool kits provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google, many said though these hadn't made much of an impact yet, the kits were useful in reducing their costs significantly.