Updated June 12, 2024

Objective-C in Japan - Language Guide

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Japan Dev Team

Japan Dev contributor

With such a self-descriptive name, it’s not a big mystery how Objective-C came about. Originally developed by adding a messaging functionality to the C programming language, Objective-C has been widely embraced since the ‘80s due to its object-oriented and easy-to-understand nature.

After more than 40 years, it’s hard to say that Objective-C is the hottest language around, especially considering its most recent placement at the 36th spot on the TIOBE index as of May 2024.

So, it’s only natural for those considering moving to Japan as an Objective-C programmer or looking to learn Objective-C in Japan to ask if the language is even used at all here.

Because of our years of continuous communication with some of the most cutting-edge tech companies in Japan, we’ve been able to keep our fingers on the pulse of Japan’s tech scene.

In this edition of our programming language guides series, I’ll take a deep dive into Objective-C in Japan, exploring its use cases and popularity. I’ll also tell you how much you can earn as an Objective-C developer here, so let’s dive right in.

As I’ve mentioned, globally, Objective-C has seen a somewhat steady decline with occasional peaks throughout the years, making its use more niche.

This decline followed the surge in app development during the late ‘00s and early 2010s. The language initially took off in popularity before Apple’s very own Swift came along, which subsequently dominated the app development market.

Today, it’s safe to say that Objective-C has also seen a sharp decline in popularity in Japan, just like it did globally. So, how dire are things?

At Japan Dev, we’ve collected years of data and developed a popularity list. We ranked the languages according to how frequently they show up on the job listings we feature on our job board, and Objective-C is the 16th most popular language according to our data.

Here’s our full list:

Popularity Rank

Programming Language

Median Salary

#1

Python

¥9.8 million

#2

Java

¥8.6 million

#3

Go

¥10.3 million

#4

Javascript

¥8.6 million

#5

C++

¥9.3 million

#6

Typescript

¥9 million

#7

Kotlin

¥9.1 million

#8

Ruby

¥9.2 million

#9

PHP

¥8.7 million

#10

Swift

¥8.7 million

#11

React

¥9 million

#12

Node.js

¥8.5 million

#13

R

¥10.1 million

#14

Scala

¥10.86 million

#15

Vue.js

¥8.7 million

#16

Objective-C

¥7.2 million

#17

Rust

¥8.5 million

As you can tell, coming in at the penultimate spot isn’t exactly flattering. That said, the tendency for trends to change a bit slower in the Japanese culture may be working in favor of Objective-C here.

Being the primary language for iOS app development before Swift came along, many old codes today are still based on Objective-C. With many Japanese companies using Objective-C in their codebases today, the language still seems to be thriving more in Japan than it is globally.

If Objective-C is thriving better out here than in other places, does this mean that the financial prospects of Objective-C developers are safe in Japan? Let’s talk about it.

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Objective-C Salaries in Japan: Financial Prospects of Objective-C Developers

As you may have already seen, our popularity list presented above also contains the average annual salaries for each programming language in the country. According to our data, Objective-C developers earn a median salary of ¥7.2 million per year.

The numbers on our list are the medians of the salary ranges we receive from companies. This means that, theoretically, JPY 7.2 million annually is the average salary you’ll earn if you get a job through our job board.

While 7.2 million isn’t exactly a top-earning salary, it can be considered decently average. If you’re wondering about developer salaries in general, make sure to check out my salary guide for developers in Japan, updated for 2024.

Objective-C at Work: How Is Objective-C Used in Japan?

Objective-C was a hugely popular language back when iOS app development first became relevant. 

In fact, 2011-2012 was the peak in Objective-C development until Apple eventually developed and released Swift, the better, more efficient language for developing iOS apps, and the industry shifted significantly

Since then, more and more companies have been opting for Swift instead of Objective-C, So, as I mentioned, the language nowadays is most commonly used by companies in Japan that still have a codebase that uses Objective-C. 

While this may paint a somewhat bleak picture of the programming language’s future, we can see that currently, developers can still make a living out of their Objective-C skills in Japan. 

That said, Swift is very much here to stay, and its use is ever-growing. This will eventually phase out the use of Objective-C completely, which is something to keep in mind moving forward.

Tips for Finding Objective-C Jobs in Japan

As I said, while it’s not the most popular language, career opportunities in Objective-C are still available if you know where to look. 

Our ultimate goal at Japan Dev is to help developers find their dream jobs at good companies in Japan, so this guide wouldn’t be of much help if it didn’t help you reach your career goals.

So, for starters, you want to read our guide to job hunting in Japan. We’ve included some of our best tips to aid you in your job search and even explained how you can get started.

I also recommend checking our job board regularly to find out the latest Objective-C job listings from good companies. You can simply search “Objective-C” and all of the latest offers should come up. Check back frequently as we constantly update our job board with new listings.

If you don’t see anything to your liking, there are other things you can do. For instance, why not become an active member of the Objective-C community in Japan? You can get started by checking out my guide for the best tech conferences in Japan, where you’ll find lots of networking opportunities.

My other guides for Tokyo tech meetups, Osaka and Kyoto tech groups, and Fukuoka tech communities can also help you get in touch with the Objective-C community. 

If you want to be more active, you can even participate in the open-space development scene, for which I also have a guide. Working on open-source projects can open up unexpected opportunities while contributing to your development as a programmer, making it a win-win situation.

Now that you know all about the current state of Objective-C and how to get an Objective-C job in Japan, let’s look at a few companies on our job board that actually use Objective-C.

Top Companies Using Objective-C in Japan

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One of the prime examples of companies that still work with Objective-C is Infostellar.

It is by no means an “old school” company either. Infostellar is a cutting-edge satellite-tech company that describes itself as a “Ground Segment as a Service” for satellites, as its cloud platform StellarStation helps satellite operators handle ground operations virtually.

However, Infostellar isn’t the only cutting-edge tech company that still subscribes to Objective-C in Japan. Adventure is another great example of a young company using Objective-C today.

Adventure is a company operating in the travel industry, and their product is a booking website called “skyticket.” The company’s platform lets users book plane tickets, hotel rooms, and even tours at affordable prices, and they hire Objective-C developers to maintain it. 

Both companies are great examples, but if you check Japan’s Dev job board frequently, you’ll come across even more great companies using Objective-C in Japan.

Final Word on Objective-C in Japan

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As I conclude on the popularity of Objective-C, I’d like to go over the main points of our research findings and leave you with some useful resources.

According to the data we’ve collected over at Japan Dev:

  • Objective-C is the 16th most popular programming language in Japan

  • The annual median salary of an Objective-C developer is roughly ¥7.2 million

  • Objective-C is most commonly used for iOS app development but is slowly being replaced by Swift

Many notable companies still use the language, and we almost always have open Objective-C jobs on our job board. 

While this is it for our language guide series, if you want to learn more about being a developer here, head on over to my post on working as a programmer in Japan where I shared my insights.

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Japan Dev Team

This post was written by our Japan Dev editorial team.