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Developers Can Tell the Future

January 29, 2013

How many times have we heard strategic product planners, product managers, CIOs and CTOs (along with stock traders) lament that they wish they could see into the future?  Wouldn’t our jobs be easier if we knew which technology trends were going to work and which were going to flop?  Well, in fact, we can.

Software developers portray the future of technology all the time.  As the earliest possible adopters they not only portend the future but actually drive it.  If developers adopt a technology it will flourish.  If they ignore or abandon one, that technology will fail.  We have seen this over and over again in our regularly updated developer surveys.  Trends shown by developers are inevitably borne out later in the general industry.

Consider: development for Android surpassed Apple iOS in early 2011, but phone shipments for Android didn’t catch up and pass Apple’s phone until about a year later.  And when future intentions of the developers were factored in we could see that Android would eventually prevail back in mid-2010.

Another example was HTML5, which took off among developers six to nine months before the popular trade media realized it and started hyping the technology.  Readers of our syndicated surveys were already on board with tools fully developed when demand became apparent.

We can see demographic changes too.  The age of developers in North America took a dramatic downward shift in late 2008 and their age has been falling ever since, but it’s only recently that some of the larger players in the industry have noticed this and the real implications this demographic shift will have not only on brand loyalty but also on the type of technologies that are adopted in the future.

Developers drive technology adoption and that’s why it’s possible to tell the future by studying their current actions and intentions.  It’s fascinating watching this play out, and looking forward into the coming year, it’s clear that there will indeed be some shifts that may surprise quite a few of the pundits that look only at IT implmentations.

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