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Number of developers in the world?

Howdy,

I am currently in the middle of writing my business plan. I have been looking for some sort of figures to get a very rough idea of how many software developers working professionally there are, and how many software development companies there are.

Would a rough guess at a few million software companies and a few hundred million developers come anywhere near close? Or am I a few hundred million off :)

The product I am creating is designed to be used by software developers, and my idea is to say something like "If I was to capture 0.001% of the software developers market, I could possibly earn SellingPrice * AFewMillion * 0.001%".

I guess the real number is impossible to gauge, but some sort of figure with close to the right number of zeros will do.

Thanks!

Wants to be an ISV
Friday, April 02, 2004

I have looked at a few business plans in my time. I have written a few more.

Every time I see "the size is X, and I hope to get y%, leading to sales of $Z", like the OP, I am deeply troubled.

Tapiwa
Friday, April 02, 2004

posted too soon.... There are better metrics of guestimating expected sales.

Tapiwa
Friday, April 02, 2004

Well I'm open to suggestions, I've never written a business plan before and I couldn't think of any other ways to do it.

However, my product is something thats not avaliable at the moment and will be unique, and I don't want to go around posting and trying to figure out how many people will buy it, because I'm worried the idea might be stolen.

A lot of the people I've spoken to seem to think it has great potential, but I would like to be able to guestimate some sort of figures...

Wants to be an ISV
Friday, April 02, 2004

lay off the Submit Button!!

On a related sidenote, this was part of the reason for dotcom spiralling predictions by folk like Gartner... (don't get me started)

Company A would buy a report for muchos $$ saying the market for Widgets would be £100 by 2005. They figure they can capture 10% (why, its a nice figure, not to ambitious but big enough to impress investors).

Companies B to P would do the same.

Next time bitshot researcher sizes the market, he speaks to 16 different companies each purporting to have projected sales of £10 by 2005.

Future market size according to the latest version of the report (costing more $$) is now £160 by 2005. Companies A to P, get excited... their predictions were conservative and they are now going to have sales of £16 instead of £10.

Enticed by prospects of silly money, VC throw money at companies Q to Z, who now also want a share of this pie.

Repeat until all companies have multi-billion dollar valuations on sales of £160!

Tapiwa
Friday, April 02, 2004

I suspect those numbers might be too high, although of course it depends how you define "programmer".

If you mean professional programmers who don't do anything else, you'll get a much smaller number compared to anyone who's ever written any code, e.g. a macro.

I seem to remember Microsoft boasting a few years ago that there were 3 million VB "Users", although how many of them were active I don't know.

If you say there were 5 million "programmers" and you get 0.001%, that's only 50 prospects, in the world.

Even assuming you can get your selling message to all 50, that's a minute market.

Perhaps you'd be interested in reading "Crossing the Chasm". It describes a lot of useful stuff regarding high-tech marketing, etc.

With this book in mind, I suspect you need a bigger target market than 50 people in the whole world.

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, April 02, 2004

I'm a little slow... how do you mean 'Lay off the Submit Button'?

I'm reading "Business Planning: The Timesaving Guide to Business and Marketing Planning" by Peter Hickey which came with MAUS, and trying to follow what's in that. Most of my business plan is complete, I'm just trying to get some sort of range for sales.

If you know of any better ways, please explain them.

Wants to be an ISV
Friday, April 02, 2004

Thanks Steve Jones, looks like I'll have to try and get a better figure on how many of them I'd be able to get to buy my product.

Wants to be an ISV
Friday, April 02, 2004

As a corollary to my previous post, a world market of 50 is okay, if you know the market extremely well, are well respected in the market and can sell your product at, say $1-10 million a go. Think Cray super-computers, not $10 widgets.

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, April 02, 2004

OP, apologies for the OT posts. Seem to be suffering from a bit of verbal daihorrea.

The proper answer is never trust any figures unless you know how they were calculated.

You could pay muchos$$ to some company, and they will give you a figure, but how accurate it is is anyone's guess without knowing the method used to arrive at it.

BigFirm consultancy that I worked for once used this type of question in the interview process.

An easy way might be to look at National Statistic figures. They might have # of people who claim to be software developers. That is a start. They might have figures for employment across industries.

You could also look at the big software companies, and most will have # of employees in their annual reports. You could then figure out a metric for calculating # of developers as a ratio of total staff. Extrapolate across industry or nationwide.

You might want to throw in another figure for developers in non software companies.

Another thing you want to consider is buying power of said developers. Some countries have a propensity to NOT BUY software.

Does developers language competency count? (Java vs C# vs ??) and (English vs French vs ??)

It can get messy very quickly, but if you start with solid figures, and make reasonable assumptions, you will get a good ballpark figure.

Tapiwa
Friday, April 02, 2004

On business plans.

I might be alone on this, but my advice is to try and avoid most of the How to Write a Business Plan books out there, especially ones that come with templates.

Why? Each business is different. Am most templates out there are shi*t, and make a boring read for any potential investor.

Way I tend to write business plans is to talk to people. Preferrably people with no investment background.

Get a tape recorder, and go a see your Uncle Guber. Tell him you want him to invest in your business. It might be good idea to have this conversation with yourself first.

U: Please invest money in our business

UG:: Who are you?
U: Me, and budy from college with this much experience etc

UG:: What are you selling?
U: Widget XP, which is .....

UG:: Who wants to buy Widget XPs
U: Well target market is

UG:: How many do you think you will sell?
U: Well we project sales of ££xyz

UG:: What are your cost?
U: Well there are devopers, offices etc ...

UG:: So how soon can I make money?
U: Product out in 2 days. Profits in 3.

Iterate as necessary, and everytime you utter a number, ask yourself how you arrived at that figure ... both for costs and income. Everytime you say what you think someone will do something (including buying Widget XP) ask yourself why.

Do it a few times, and when you have answers to his questions you have your business plan.

All that it should be, is a story about what you plan to do with someone else's money. Answer all the questions that a potential investor would want to know and throw away the templates and the books.

Tapiwa
Friday, April 02, 2004

Even once you know how many developers are in the world, you're still going to just be making up the "we'll sell to x % of them" part, right?

A better way to plan might be to calculate the number of people to whom you could sell the product, on a monthly basis.


Friday, April 02, 2004

> Enticed by prospects of silly money, VC throw money at companies Q to Z, who now also want a share of this pie.

At which point the owner of V does a runner with their money. The is the missing "..." in all those 1. do something. ... X. Profit! posts. You just have to make sure you don't get caught.

In the bad old good old days I used to joke to my girlfriend that I would register a domain, something like yourcornershop.co.uk, go to the VCs saying that I have a net business whose potential customers include anyone who has ever done any shopping in the UK, and then walk - correct run - away with several million quid. She said it wouldn't work. I'm still not sure that she was right.


Friday, April 02, 2004

WtbaISV - Are we to take it that this thing/service/whatever could be good for all developers, regardless of platform, whether they are doing embedded, database, GUI or whatever type of work, etc.?


Friday, April 02, 2004

I would think that there are not many fields in which my product could not be used.

Without randomly phoning companies and asking if they'd buy it (which is probably what I'll do when it IS ready) it's hard to find an accurate way of estimating my expected sales.

This business plan is just for myself, not for outside investors or anything, its just a running plan to keep myself focused when it all starts. So I guess I can get away with leaving my figures as they are for now, and wait till the product is ready and selling.

Wants to be an ISV
Friday, April 02, 2004

It depends what you call a programmer/developer.

Probably more than a million but not a great deal more.

Irrelevant anyway because there is no such thing as a tool that is ripe for programmers in general any more than there is a real-estate plan or interior decoration scheme that is right for them.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 02, 2004

WtbaISV - okay, I've figured out what it is you are seliing. It is either girlfriends or personalities.


Friday, April 02, 2004

WtbaISV, I would go from publically available metrics, like number and nature of job openings, and college graduates.

Egor
Friday, April 02, 2004

"few hundred million developers come anywhere near close" - yeah, every man, woman and child in the US is a developer.

Sven
Friday, April 02, 2004

world is bigger than good ol' USA

300mill is approx 5% of world population. Still a lot but ...

Tapiwa
Friday, April 02, 2004

I suggest that if your application can be developed inside of 6 months that you consider bootstrapping the development process. 

The idea is to cold-call prospective buyers and say, "In 6 months we'll have a product that does X Y and Z.  Are you willing to buy?"  If yes, great, book that sale (for a low fee, they're helping you get going), if they say no, ask why.  They might need another feature or have more questions. 

All that helps you get money (sales) up front to pay for the development process which then delivers a product that actually meets the clients' needs.  So when you go to get additional money you can say, "50% of cold-calls within market X of size Y are interested, and we've been able to secure bookings of Z% thus far.  W% have indicated that they would highly consider buying if we added features A B and C, which will require capital of D.

Lou
Friday, April 02, 2004

If about 1 in a 1000 people is a dev in the "dev. friendly" parts of the globe that acounts for about 1/3rd of the total 6 billion, you'd have about 2 million devs.
Of that about 1 in 2 never buy any software. Of the remaining 1M, 3 out of 5 only buy the large suits, which leaves about 200K for the "small 3rd party" market. Even the best small tool would only be liked by 50%. Chances are your tool will be somewhere in the midst of a Zipf distribution, leaving its actual sales target at around 2K units, if you can sell it for under 50$. With a renewal rate at around 18 months you could be looking at a steady 66K$/year revenue after a few years, if you play it perfect.

(Hey, I'm just pulling this out of my ass, so don't take it too seriously)

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, April 02, 2004

To answer the question

in 2001/2002 --> ~5.9 million

<quote source= http://www.computerworld.co.nz/webhome.nsf/0/8549877A8F66D5EACC256CD4000A68C2?opendocument >

With 1.7 million software developers, the Asia/Pacific region is currently the number two producer of development talent, surpassing Western Europe's 1.6 million developers, but well behind North America's 2.6 million professional developers in 2001, according to the IDC study.

</quote>

In 2002, Borland says

<quote source= http://216.239.57.104/search?q=cache:8tiTUhGLKWEJ:community.borland.com/article/images/28545/PR_Highlights_Mar_2002.doc+%22number+of+software+developers+worldwide%22&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 >

The total number of software developers worldwide will increase to 12 million next year, up from about 10 million this year, according to International Data Corp. Roughly half of those programmers use the most popular software, Microsoft's (MSFT) Visual Basic.

</quote>

Regards

Kaushik Janardhanan

KayJay
Friday, April 02, 2004

Given the steep contraction from the 2001/2002 period (at least around here), I'd say my 2M guestimate comes pretty close :-).

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, April 02, 2004

Funny thing this, look at the numbers mentioned above. The difference in the approximation is almost double. And both quote the same IDC survey for the same year.

KayJay
Friday, April 02, 2004

And "you", who is just "Sir" to me, 1/3 of 6 bil. is 2 mil.?

KayJay
Friday, April 02, 2004

Apologies. I misread!

KayJay
Friday, April 02, 2004

Form the survey
---"That population is concentrated in just 10 countries,US, China, India, Russia, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, the UK and Italy accounting for just over 64% of the world's professional developers. "----

Half the world's population is also concentrated in those ten countries.

I'll accept my figure of a million was an underestimate. However the market is fragmented with embedded software, military projects, government projects, mobile phones and a lot more. And there are loads of guys with programmers in their job title who haven't done any programming for years

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 02, 2004

7,324,972

What do I win?

Philo

Philo
Friday, April 02, 2004

A fully licensed version of MS SharePoint.

.
Friday, April 02, 2004

What does it matter whether the total number of developers is 1 million or 10 million. The error in your estimate of what percentage of them would buy your product swamps the error in the number of programmers in the world.

pdq
Friday, April 02, 2004

Kay Jay, the 10 million figure you quote from the IDC survey is a figure commonly bandied around, but not correct.

It is alleged to be the total employment figure for IT jobs in America, and is used by lobby groups like ITAA to make themselves seem as important as possible. However other sources put the total IT employment in America at 3 million.

More importantly, most of those IT jobs are not software developers. The population of genuine developers in America would be about 600,000.

Bruce
Friday, April 02, 2004

Surprised noone has said it yet.

42

Tapiwa
Saturday, April 03, 2004

Worry about how to market it - who would likely buy it, how to they get their information, how to let them know about your cool new product.

Don't worry about arbitrarily created percentages.

Aaron F Stanton
Saturday, April 03, 2004

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