Quantifying Risks to Interoperability in the Software Industry

A Report by the Developers Alliance and NDP Analytics - December 2017

Developers are the workforce of the 21st Century. Rather than assembling machine parts, developers assemble code, the language of machines, devices, automation, and networks. There are 21 million developers working on almost 60 million projects, with projections for even more growth in the coming decade. Like their 20th century counterparts in manufacturing and farming, the key to developer success is in mastering the tools of their trade. More and more this means a deep understanding of a few foundational computer languages that underpin the software industry.

The growth of the developer workforce and the growth of applications that require coding go hand-in-hand. The future of the technology industry goes far beyond the computer screen or the mobile device. It’s in the “things” that are used every day, whether by consumers or professionals, from the most commonly used household items to the complex tools of hyper-niche professions. The value of these devices is increasingly enabled in by their ability to communicate and interact with one another. Devices that require code and talk to one another are not just common, they’re the standard. This provides a foundation for future innovation.

In the event of diminished or extinguished interoperability, perhaps due to a court’s decision, we estimate $77 billion in economic productivity over the next eight years is at risk, on top of myriad additional indirect economic consequences. This report examines those consequences, along with the threats that would set them in motion.


The Developers Alliance is a non-profit global membership organization that supports developers as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. The Alliance promotes the continued growth of the industry and advocates on behalf of their members on public policy and industry issues.  Membership includes a global network of more than 70,000 developers with diverse skills, expertise, and interests; and hundreds of companies that depend on and work with developers.