Where to Invest Your Tech Budget
When it comes to keeping your finger on the pulse of what's happening in technology, sometimes it's worth trying to looking at those trends from a less than obvious angle.
Here's one to try: Follow the freelancers.
Freelancer community website DoNanza recently recently released some statistics about where the hot jobs are for independent contractors in the technology industry. It's no crystal ball, of course, but it does provide a window into where other companies are investing their tech budgets.
Android has a wide lead in global smartphone sales, according to such market research firms as Gartner and IDC. But broadest use doesn't necessarily translate into the biggest market.
According to DoNanza, when it comes to the mobile world, the king of the hill is the iPhone. Demands for programming for that particular device family are higher than for both all Android devices and for the iPad. (Demand for these last two is about equal.)
That isn't simply a factor of the release of the iPhone 5. The demand for iPhone skills has remained higher than either of the others since at least January, although as more Android tablets hit the market, you might expect a bump there.
HTML5 or Flash?
Choosing between HTML5 and Adobe Flash has been tricky for companies. Both technologies can be used to make websites interactive or to support video, among other things. Apple has completely walked away from Flash, with neither iPhones nor iPads supporting the technology.
Adobe has apparently seen the writing on the wall. The company has stopped supporting Flash on newer versions of Android. So, it would seem to be HTML5 or nothing.
However, just like with iPhone versus other mobile devices, that doesn't mean everyone is looking for HTML5-only development. Companies that have spent significant money in the past on the technology may not move off quickly.
That's what DoNanza found. Although there's been a big drop in demand for Flash development, it's still about equal to that for HTML5 work. However, HTML5 has grown quickly and should be something Web development houses embrace with all deliberate speed.
The most in-demand skills include HTML, PHP, graphic design, WordPress, and website design. Clearly the people who go to DoNanza have a heavy focus on websites. If you provide such services, or your firm focuses on marketing, e-commerce, and similar activities, it's still good to know.
All that said, remember that information from any one freelancing site is only a single point of data for you. Check others and weigh everything by the types of work the site attracts. If your expertise and business is in another technical area, like writing back office financial applications or creating embedded computer systems that go into other types of products, then you'll have to consider how applicable the information is to you.
ERIK SHERMAN | Columnist
Erik Sherman's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.