Should the Mobile Development Industry Be Writing Apps for Low-Income Households?

Tuesday May 27th 2014 by Developer.com Staff
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Many poor families use a smartphone as their primary telephone and Internet access device.

A very large target market for mobile apps doesn't look a whole lot like most mobile developers, demographically speaking. While most developers are fairly affluent and live on one of the coasts, many less wealthy people from the middle of the country now have smartphones. In fact, according to a new Pew report, "poor" or "near-poor" people living in mid-America are much more likely to have eliminated their landlines and live in a wireless-only household. These demographic groups are also more likely to use their phones to access the Internet.

Unfortunately, most developers tend to write apps for people like themselves, which may be leaving these less affluent smartphone users—roughly half the U.S. population—without apps that meet their needs. ReadWrite's Matt Asay writes, "Sure, this isn't new, and it's not necessarily fair to call out app developers for not writing code for an audience that won't necessarily be able to pay them. It's not as if app developers are raking in the big bucks, after all. But it's still troubling that app developers so poorly reflect the demographics of roughly half the U.S. population, and hence are unlikely to code for their needs."

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