SMEs and Indie Developers Want Predictability, Not Favors

As our blog post from last week noted, we conducted a survey of European developers and publishers on platform-to-business relationships and submitted our report to the European Commission. One of the great advantages of the research we conduct at the Alliance is that our respondents tend to be smaller firms or independent developers, allowing us to broadcast their voice during debates where they often go unheard.

Near the end of the survey, we asked developer and publishers for advice they would want to pass to the platforms they work with. What was instructive in their comments was that no one said they wanted a handout. There weren’t complaints about bigger businesses, or the competition for time and resources where they are frequently deprioritized. There weren’t requests for special favors or “fairer” treatment. They believe the system in which they operate is working, not in need of overhaul.

What they most want is information and context. They want knowledge to make better business decisions. If a review process for submitting an app is onerous or lengthy, their demand isn’t to change it, but to know the details so they can prepare for it. If a new API on the scene is offering great features, they want to know how long those features will be active before they change again or the company offering them goes bust. They are happy to let platforms do and provide what they will, as long as they know what that is.

In short, they want predictability. They want things to work how they think things will work. In a sector as dynamic and constantly evolving as technology, that can be a difficult task: but their request isn’t a stop to change and innovation (which they benefit from as well, and in many cases create). Their request is to know, so they can do what they need to do to keep things moving.

Predictability empowers developers because it enables an efficient allocation of time and resources, it reduces the risk of outside investment, and it keeps users happy. Give developers those things, and they add to the 85% of developers who view platforms as either crucial partners or effective tools.

Moreover, this means that developers don’t want an outside agency coming in and upending the ecosystem. Regulatory overreach, even those intended to benefit small developers, creates uncertainty and has unintended consequences. These are allergens to predictability. In short, it’s the exact opposite of what developers want most.

Read the full research report here.


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Stephen Spiker

Director, Research & Insights