Shortage of talent remains HK app companies’ biggest problem

Hong Kong’s mobile app industry is suffering from a lack of talent, according to a survey.

The “Hong Kong Mobile Apps Industry Survey 2019” has revealed that more than 65% of interviewees agreed that lack of talent remained their biggest problem in operating an app company. Reasons for this situation included the rate of pay rises for employees, and employees looking for jobs in other industries offering more competitive salaries.

“Employees in Hong Kong are not interested in low value-added positions,” said Roy Law, chairman of WTIA. “High value-added jobs, such as project management, can attract local talents. Though universities in Hong Kong are offering relevant curricula, outstanding students still have little intention to join the mobile app industry. I think it’s about the values among the public.”

Average salaries for app developers have increased substantially, with 69% now earning a monthly salary of HK$20,000 to HK$39,999, compared to only 43% in 2017.  6% of employees are now earning more than HK$40,000 a month, four percentage points higher than in 2017.
Conversely, in 2019, only one-fourth of employees are earning less than HK$20,000, while there were 55% earning less than that amount in 2017.

As for the app industry as a whole, things are still on the upswing. In 2019 42% of companies are set to earn HK$2 million and above in revenue, while only 30% were in 2017.

Companies are also exploring more opportunities in the industry. The prevalence of HTML5 apps and mini programmes in social media, such as WeChat and Facebook, continues to rise. Currently, one-tenth of subjects interviewed choose HTML5 to develop their products.

Android and iOS are still the major mobile platforms for mobile app companies to release products, with 49% of interviewees saying these two platforms were their first priorities.

Organised by the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association (WTIA), and sponsored by the HKSAR Government’s CreateHK agency, the survey aims to explore the mobile app industry’s situation and prospects.

“The use of mobile phones is not limited to our daily lives, as ‘bring-your-own-device’ has become more popular among businesses. It has fuelled the rising demand for mobile apps for business purposes and created new opportunities for app developers,” concluded Edmond Lai, the chief digital officer of the Hong Kong Productivity Council.