Micro ISV survey results – part 1

How much do you sell? What apps do you write? How many downloads do you get? These are questions often posted on the Joel on Software forums. To answer some of these questions, I’ve surveyed the Micro ISV community who visit this forum. I got a good response, with 96 people answering. This is the first of two posts describing the results. I will cover mainly demographic information about the responses in this post. Next week, I’ll write up the results about downloads, revenue and so on.

I asked an open question about what type of applications people sell. I then categorised the answers into application category and platform type. Most people write desktop applications, with only 12% writing just web applications:

This is probably a good indication that Micro ISVers haven’t been taken in by the trendy web 2.0 fad. The application category was split evenly between consumer and business, with 16% of people writing developer tools:

Again, this is slightly unexpected. I had the misconception that Micro ISVs often started out by writing developer tools. This often seems like a cool thing to do, but it’s a hard market to get into.

20% of all Micro ISVs have been running for under a year, but 8% have been running for more than 10 years. The average (mean) age of a Micro ISV is a bit over 4 years. The mode (the most likely running time) is 1.5 years, and the median 2 years 7 months. In the below graph, the bimodal distribution is misleading because of the different sizes of the bins. The lower bound of the bins is exclusive, the upper bound inclusive (eg 2 – 3 years means more than 2 and less or equal to 3).

The following graph show people’s current ages. 75% of people are under 40 years old. The mean, mode and median are all about 35 years old:

The next graph shows the age at which people started their Micro ISV. About half of people are under 30 when they start, with almost nobody over 45. The mean and median age is 30, with 25 the most likely age that people start their Micro ISV.

Finally one result that’s interesting, but possibly not shocking. Out of the 96 respondents, only one is female:

Next week I’ll write up the results showing the number of downloads and sales Micro ISVs have. I’ll also analyse the top issues that they face. Make sure you don’t miss out, and subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed.

7 responses to “Micro ISV survey results – part 1”

  1. Ryan Smyth says:

    Interesting. I’m looking forward to the next part.

  2. Bob says:

    Great data Neil – but I think it under represents “microISV 2.0″‘s who are mostly delivering online services. That said, it’s still very interesting.

  3. Brian Leach says:

    This is great stuff! Thanks for doing it . . .

  4. Yakov says:

    Hey guys,
    MixedInKey.com is a good example of an ISV — it’s a small company that creates DJ software. We’re tiny in comparison to big DJ companies, but at what point should we stop calling ourselves a MicroISV? What’s considered “Micro” in your survey?

  5. whoa, only 1 female? i would have thought there would be more. Maybe it was bad luck on the sampling? o_O

  6. Mary says:

    those are some interesting survey findings. i was most surprised by the last one, showing only 1% of the respondents was female. Im sure there are more of us out there! 🙂
    Mary @ online survey software

  7. David Locke says:

    Developer tools is never a market. Developers don’t pay for things. They want free. They want open. They want alphas and betas, but tools never.
    I spent a year selling a Powerbuilder framework. By the time you learn one, you could roll your own. No dice. Besides in that complementor market, the market leader played rough, but then they have to, or they don’t get to be the market leader for very long. They had been the market leader for a long time. It was probably the technology-basis of our offer that was the real problem. The newly hired product manager said that it should have never gone to market.
    Still, I’ve heard this quite often, the developer market does not exist.