iOS app development powers Objective C to top the charts

Thirty years after its release, Objective C is still going strong. Software quality assessment company Tiobe’s Programming Language Award went to Objective C for the highest rise in market share in 2012. Objective C gained 3.37 percent this month since January 2012, according to Tiobe. C++ gained 1.09 percent year-on-year and Python 0.96 percent, while C# lost 2.57 percent and Delphi 0.65 percent. Objective C won the award for the second year in a row. 

Objective C is the main programming language for OS X and iOS, Apple’s operating systems for desktops and mobile phones respectively and also their APIs. Tiobe attributes the rise in the market share of Objective C to the growing development of mobile applications. Objective C was ranked 45 in the index in 2008, the year in which the iPhone started supporting apps. With the spate of iOS app development, the language was ranked at position three in Jan 2012.


However, Objective C may have reached its peak as the language isn’t used for much else anymore. Languages used in coding mobile apps are forecast to gain market share further. Java for Android and C++ and C# for Windows Mobile will regain lost ground, according to Tiobe. C++ is preferred where large programs are written for exacting systems. It will be interesting to see how C++ is also used for Windows mobile development applications.


Trends over time. The complete dataset is available with Tiobe for a fee.



The languages accounting for products with the most market share according to the Tiobe Programming Community Index for January 2013 are: C (17.855%), Java (17.417%), Objective-C (10.283%), C++ (9.140%), C# (6.196%), PHP (5.546%), Visual Basic (4.749%), Python (4.173%), Perl (2.264%), JavaScript (1.976%).

Bash, the free scripting language for Unix, rose 52 positions on the index from January 2012. Other big gainers were Visual Basic .Net and MATLAB. VB.Net too is used for Android, iOS and OS X programs and apps, apart from various Windows applications. JavaScript and MATLAB are forecast to gain significant market share in 2013. JavaScript, versatile and weakly typed, has come to be widely used in applications as well as web pages. MATLAB is by far the most preferred language and environment for technical computing.

The Tiobe Programming Community Index is updated each month with ratings calculated using the number of page views on search engines, Wikipedia, Blogger, academic courses, the number of skilled technologists using the language, third-party vendors etc. The index defines a language as one that has an entry on Wikipedia and is Turing-complete, that is, can simulate a single-taped Turing machine. As a result, ASP, HTML and many others are not considered programming languages, but a few scripting languages have found their way into the index. The index seeks to rank the popularity of the languages rather than identify the best or the most used language or the ones that has the most lines of code.

The ratings can be used by students and working professionals to determine the languages in which they should acquire or enhance their skills. Enterprises can make use of this data while making decisions for new projects or purchases.