Python’s unstoppable rise is widely recognized, with some predicting it will soon become the most popular programming language in the world.

But while millions of people use Python each day, and there’s little sign of the exponential growth in users tailing off, there are doubts about the sustainability of that growth.

The recent Python Language Summit was warned that Python faces an “existential risk” if support for mobile and new web platforms doesn’t improve. Python currently also makes it more difficult to package up apps for non-developers than is true of other languages.

While Python has become established as the language to use for data science and when learning programming for the first time, questions are being raised about whether Python’s limitations will prevent its popularity matching that of JavaScript.

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James Governor, co-founder of analyst Redmonk, raised the possibility in a discussion about the recent Redmonk Programming Language Rankings, which placed Python at number three, just behind Java at number two and JavaScript at number one.

“I have a question about Python. It’s there, well established in the top three now, it’s become a lingua franca for data science, it’s proved itself general purpose. Or has it?” he said.

“I have been noticing some chatter from folks recently that are seemingly arguing we might be at Peak Python, because while it has found a place in AI/ML, it’s not really nailing other opportunities. That is, might it face stronger headwinds going forward?”

Redmonk co-founder and principal analyst Stephen O’Grady said while Python is “not going anywhere for a while”, “there could still be something to the Peak Python argument because the language lacks the clarity of purpose and design that, say, an R has, but isn’t likely to challenge JavaScript/TypeScript for ubiquity.”

“Which raises the question of what its path is moving forward, and what opportunities it’s positioned for. Still, I wouldn’t bet against Python. It’s good at so many things.”

The limitations of Python in important areas such as mobile platform support are well-known within the Python community.

Speaking about Python’s mobile support earlier this year, Barry Warsaw, longtime Python developer and Python Steering Council member, said: “Python, right now, doesn’t have a great story there,” going on to talk about how it was an ambition for iPhone and Android users to download an app and “never even know it was written in Python”.

With the number of processor cores inside modern chips continuing to climb, with up to 48 cores in Intel’s latest server offerings, Warsaw is also keen to see Python get better at spreading tasks across multiple cores.

That said, Redmonk’s Governor concludes “there’s plenty of life left in the old dog yet” and the Python community is working on proposals to make it easier to package up Python apps for non-developers and to improve multi-core processor support.

There’s also no sign that Python’s popularity is tailing off, with Python reaching an all-time high ranking in the TIOBE Index in July.

If you’re interested in learning more about Python, check out TechRepublic’s starter guide.

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