In my latest post looking at how marketers are using freelancers, I wanted to drill down on a major trend I’ve observed over the last year, an increase in demand for mobile specialists

We’ve seen a 94% increase in mobile development jobs posted in the year leading up to March 2012. The need for digital marketing freelancers has developed through 2012, with a quarterly growth of 24%.

Of the two current giants in mobile, Android has experienced the fastest annual growth (133%). However, the number of job posts for developers of iOS is three times larger than Android (21,000 vs. 6,500). 

If you compare Elance’s data on mobile development jobs with Gartner’s data on world-wide smartphone sales there is a clear correlation: Gartner’s data shows significantly stronger growth in the sales of Android phones over iOS phones.

King of the throne among the two top players’ app markets is still the App Store with 725,000 compared to Google Play’s 500,000.

Putting the Elance data under closer inspection, we can see that jobs in development for the iPad are growing faster than iPhone. The year-on-year (YoY) change for iPad jobs was 116%, while jobs categorized for iPhone saw a growth of 53%. 

Looking at the amount of outsourced mobile development work through Elance, Windows Phone not only has a smaller area of this market than its two largest competitors, it also has a lower growth rate of jobs posted on Elance for app development, only increasing at a rate of 36% YoY.

Canada-based RIM is continuing to lose ground; the number of jobs posted for RIM dropped almost 16% from last year.


The UK is moving mobile into the Human Cloud

In the first quarter of 2012, the UK posted more jobs on Elance than any other country in Europe.

An impressive 47% of all mobile jobs posted came out of the UK, with 53% of work in mobile app development. Compared to the average for the rest of Europe the percentage of jobs posted and client spend in the UK have both increased at a faster rate than the European average. 

Five reasons for increased demand in mobile freelancing

A reaction to this growth in demand would be to question why this is happening. Here are five key reasons:

  • Everything is going mobile. Mobile technology is changing the way we access the web and in turn the way we do business. The huge popularity of mobile has meant that businesses have to completely rethink how they operate and traditional forms of marketing have to adapt. An important example is the concept of a mobile ‘app’, a completely revolutionary marketing tool created by the popularity of the smartphone.
  • Smaller businesses require individuals. There are many marketing agencies out there that don’t have mobile platform development teams – we see many agencies outsourcing mobile development. While larger companies tend to use established agencies and consultants to develop mobile presence, SMEs and startups can use freelancers as a more cost effective approach to mobile development.

    By outsourcing to an individual, companies can save time by removing interview barriers and by reviewing work online at milestones in the development process.

  • Economy. The difficult economic situation over the last few years has put a strain on budgets. Using freelancers is a good way to control costs, especially when there are freezes on hiring additional full time headcount and cuts to agency spend.

    A freelance mobile app developer can therefore be a cost effective solution. 

  • Specialisms. When looking for a freelance developer, companies and individuals recognise specific areas of expertise. They are not inclined to use the same person to develop a solution for iOS, which they would for Android.

    The different technology means you are unlikely to find an individual who is the most capable with iOS and Android. Companies hiring freelance digital marketers are looking for specialists with specific skills to work on certain projects.

  • Competitive market with more choice.Hiring online marketing freelancers gives companies a choice of thousands of people and thousands of specialisms. Clients can view previous projects and see ratings from other users. The geographical focus is removed; individuals are hired based on their skill set.

    Clients can outline details of their work specifically and then communicate with prospective freelancers over the web.