Report Shows Developers Agree: Accessing Data Is the Biggest Mobile Problem

Findings Reveal Limited Access to Data Hinders Development, App Release Velocity Sets Mobile Leaders and Laggards Apart and New Devices Battle for Developer Attention

SAN JOSE, CA–(Marketwired – Dec 15, 2015) – Appcelerator, provider of the leading enterprise mobile engagement platform, today announced the release of the 2015 Mobile Trends Report in partnership with IDC. Survey findings show that developers agree: accessing data is the most significant challenge developers face when building mobile apps. Nearly three-quarters of the 5,778 respondents note that getting mobile-optimized access to backend data is the single greatest challenge to building mobile apps, with almost half of developers identifying the work of building and deploying mobile APIs as the primary bottleneck.

Additionally, survey findings highlight a growing divide between self-identified mobile “leaders” and “laggards.” Most notably, 42.6% of leaders report a weekly or bi-weekly app release cycle. Among the laggards, that number drops to just 9.5%.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Forget “Mobile First,” Embrace “API First”: Approximately 72% of respondents say getting mobile-optimized access to backend data is the biggest challenge to building apps. Additionally, 40.5% report spending anywhere from a quarter to half of their development efforts integrating to backend systems and, for 34.1% of developers, time spent on backend integration is more than half of the total development effort. In other words, difficulty accessing backend data is holding back mobile initiatives.
  • Leaders vs. Laggards: Lessons Learned: The key difference between self-identified “leaders” and “laggards” is release velocity, with 42.6% of mobile leaders maintaining a weekly or bi-weekly app release cycle. For laggards, that number drops to just 9.5%. Additionally, 75.5% of leaders report using an MBaaS (Mobile Backend-as-a-Service) capability monthly or more frequently; for laggards this number drops to 28.4%. 
  • Home Is Where the Hack Is: For the second year in a row, developers say home automation is the hottest emerging market. Nearly 60% are “very interested” in building apps for home devices. Continued interest in connected devices points to the likelihood of growth and expansion of home automated technology.
  • Apple Watch Trumps Apple TV: Though Apple recently announced the release of an SDK for TV, only 39.2% of developers say they are “very interested” in building apps for Apple TV, compared to 60.7% who reported interest in developing for the Apple Watch. It appears that the Apple TV SDK wasn’t enough to steal developer interest in building for the Watch.
  • RMAD Underwhelms: Only a quarter of developers who have used low-code, drag-and-drop app development tools (also known as RMAD) describe the experience as positive, while 59% feel “neutral” and 16% “negative.” Codeless development tools, which have been long awaited, are still in a rudimentary stage.

“From smartwatches to smart appliances, new device types have shifted the center of mobile development from frontend to backend. While that shift opens up opportunities for smarter, more contextual and connected mobile experiences, it also creates new hurdles to development,” said Brad Hipps, vice president of marketing, Appcelerator. “Great apps need great data. But as this survey shows, getting at that data is no easy feat. In fact, respondents say it’s the number-one challenge. The standards for middleware and backend data access that defined the web era don’t work for mobile.”

“For developers to create the innovative and intuitive experiences that users demand, accessing data and connecting with other platforms is imperative,” said John Jackson, research vice president, Mobile & Connected Platforms, IDC. “Developers must now be jacks of all trades, creating an appealing front-end experience that is also tied to a rich back-end. Beyond finding the right tools to support such an experience, taking on a full stack development mentality has become imperative to success.”

Appcelerator and IDC’s Q4 2015 Mobile Trends Report is the latest in an ongoing analysis of mobile trends, featuring the views of 5,778 developers on the state of mobile development, opportunities and challenges, as well as the mobile readiness of their organizations.

About Appcelerator

Mobile apps are fast replacing web applications as the way we buy, share, search, learn and collaborate. Appcelerator® helps companies of all sizes solve for this new reality with a mobile engagement platform to drive great mobile app experiences, quickly, cost-effectively and at scale. The Appcelerator Platform speeds time to market with native cross-platform app development & testing, simplified access to data via mobile-optimized APIs, and comprehensive real-time analytics to power user engagement and measure success. With 100,000+ mobile apps deployed on 300+ million devices, Appcelerator’s solutions are backed by one of the world’s largest mobile ecosystems, including better than 750,000 mobile developers and hundreds of ISVs and strategic partners, among them Accenture, Cognizant and CSC. For more information, visit

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