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IDC Study Counts the World's Developers: 11 Million Pros

Here's a question that vexes analysts and industry watchers: Exactly how many developers are there in the world? Apparently, codederos are a hard bunch to count. Leave it to the indefatigable Al Hilwa to get the job done -- well, Al and his fellow International Data Corporation (IDC) analysts.

IDC recently published its "2014 Worldwide Software Developer and ICT-Skilled Worker Estimates," and I got a peek at the report, which Hilwa authored. It's a country-by-country build-out of population estimates based on the analysis of granular occupation surveys and census data (where available), education enrollment and graduation data (where available), and other materials and correlations where those data were not available. It provides numbers for 90 countries and three world regions, including those you'd expect (U.S., China, India, Japan, Brazil, the U.K., Russia, Canada, etc.) and a few you might not (Nigeria, Qatar, Luxemborg, Jamaica, etc.) Together, these countries account for 97 percentof the world's GDP.

Sexy, right? Okay, maybe not, but this is information software and IT service providers could really use when it comes to things like resource allocation and investment decisions, which Hilwa "calls gating factors to addressable market calculations." (Come on, that's kinda sexy.)

One of the things I love about this 32-page report is that it counts professional coders and hobbyists. IDC defines "hobbyists" as coders building software in their spare time for their "personal entertainment," student developers, contributors to free and open-source software projects, and unfunded entrepreneurs. That group also includes part-timers putting in less than 10 hours a month and full-time knowledge workers called upon from time to time to write code for things like productivity apps.

IDC believes that there are approximately 18.5 million software developers in the world right now. Around 11 million of those are pros and 7.5 million are hobbyists. IDC also believes that there are 29 million ICT-skilled workers in the world, a number that includes pro devs and 18 million operations and management skilled workers.

Hilwa, who serves as program director in IDC's Application Development Software group (and who called this project "a labor of love"), says that he expects the overall number of developers and ICT-skilled workers to grow over the next couple of years, but thanks to the cloud and mobile trends, most of that growth will be within the developer population. He added that the "mobile revolution" is expected to boost the growth of the hobbyist developer population.

So, where are all these developers living? According to the report, 19 percent of the worldwide population of software developers (both pros and those coding for funzies) live in the U.S.; China has 10 percent ; and India has 9.8 percent . India has more pros than China, which has more hobbyists. Looking at the bigger picture, 36 percent of all software developers live in the Asia/Pacific region; 39 percent live in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; and 30 percent live in the Americas.

The full IDC report is available now to IDC clients.

Posted by John K. Waters on January 6, 2014