Do French programmers program in French? And other questions about technology

At approximately 10:27 pm, during the inevitable and often weird stream of consciousness that equals me trying to fall asleep, I started thinking about how programmers in other countries do their thing.  I can’t say how I arrived at this thought, but it was a question I didn’t know the answer to and I felt a little small-minded for it.  If you’re a software engineer in France, I’m sorry.

Anyway, from what I gather, the most popular programming languages like Ruby and Python are English-based, despite being developed in Japan and the Netherlands, respectively.  In this interesting little thread on Quora, you don’t even need to understand English to use an English-based programming language.  You only need to know what result an English keyword or command word will produce.

The next question in my “does-it-ever-stop-I-need-to-sleep” stream of consciousness was what are the most popular mobile apps in other countries? How do others use their smartphones and stay connected?  Is everyone as addicted to their smartphone as the average American?

Sidenote: I belong to a Slack network made up of technical writers, developers and documentarians from all over the world.  It’s the coolest thing.  Everyday I read posts like “Hi, I’m a technical writer from India/Ukraine/Poland/Australia” in the #intro channel, knowing that someone across the world is reading the exact same thing as me. Chills!

According to Newzoo’s Global Mobile Market Report, rounding out the top five countries with the highest number of smartphone users are China, India, United States, Brazil and the Russian Federation.  Let’s unpack this:

China’s most popular mobile app is WeChat, a social app that offers way more than just messaging.  It’s got payments, social feeds, news feeds, and city services like booking doctor appointments, transportation and dining reservations.  As of February 2018, WeChat reached one billion monthly users, placing it behind only Facebook, Facebook Messenger, You Tube and WhatsApp’s global monthly users. The 2017 WeChat User Report shows users spend an average of 66 minutes per day on the app.  For comparison, Facebook users around the globe spend an average of 20 minutes per day on the app.  The average smartphone user in China has over 100 mobile apps on their phone and uses over 40 of them per month.  The global average is 80 total apps with over 40 used per month. I personally have around 80 apps. So much for thinking I’m a minimalist.

India is a rapidly growing, mobile-first market (more people access the internet from mobile devices than computers) and as such, companies have to shift their priorities and strategies to make sure the mobile experience is top-notch.  Facebook and WhatsApp’s highest user bases are in India, where social media and video streaming apps are the most popular.  One example is Hotstar, an inexpensive domestic video streaming app that costs around $3 per month.  According to app analytics company App Annie, India accounted for roughly 33% of the world’s 175 billion app downloads in 2017.  This is largely attributed to the introduction of subsidized 4G internet access by Reliance Jio, giving its price sensitive user base a better option to stay connected.

In the United States, Facebook is king.  The site accounts for one in five page views for U.S. adults, and we spend an average of 20 minutes a day scrolling, posting, liking, ranting etc.  That’s 20 minutes out of the three hours per day we spend on mobile apps.  Of the top 10 most used apps in the U.S., Snapchat and Pandora are the only ones not owned by Facebook or Google.  Facebook has 147 million active monthly users in the U.S. alone, most of whom are between 24 and 55+ years old.  The youngsters (under 24 years old) prefer YouTube.  We may be a distracted bunch, but at least we’re concerned about organization.  According to comScore’s 2017 Mobile App Report, millenials (18 – 34 years old) are more likely to delete an app if they don’t like how it looks on their home screen.

Brazil is also an emerging mobile-first market where Android has a 93% market share (iOS trails slightly at 5.8%).  Smartphone users in Brazil spend around three hours per day using mobile apps, and 92% of that time is using native apps, meaning a mobile app you have to download versus using a mobile internet browser.  Brazil is the largest internet market in Latin America, and WhatsApp sees the most usage.  Additionally, mobile banking is seeing a huge boom in Brazil due to significant technology investments by the country’s largest banks.  Most reports on the subject say this reflects how Brazil’s citizens are accepting and adopting mobile technology and becoming a more mature internet market.  According to the Brazilian Federation of Banks (FEBRABAN) report, transactions made on mobile banking apps quadrupled from 2014 to 2016, from 1.5 billion transactions to 20.7 billion transactions.

Last but not least, the Russian Federation.  Russia has over 80 million smartphone users, making it Europe’s largest smartphone market and the second highest percentage of smartphone users in a whole population behind the U.S.  The top app is (VKontakte), a homegrown social channel based in St. Petersburg.  Even though the app is globally available, ~67% of its users are in Russia.  Compare this to U.S-based Facebook, with only ~18% of its users in the U.S.  VK users spend an average of 16 minutes per visit, while Facebook users spend an average of 12 minutes per visit.  Clearly is doing a better job at engaging its users.  I’ll guess its emphasis on simplicity and not overwhelming users with ads has something to do with it. Looking at you, Facebook.

The fact that social channels top the global app market is not surprising, but personally I’ve become pretty disillusioned with Facebook.  I much prefer Instagram for its simple feature set.  Maybe one day social apps will be smart enough to stop you before you waste an hour rabbit-holing down the profile of someone you will probably never meet.





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