Commentary

Wake Up And Smell The Apps

It’s that hazy time of year when folks are struggling to break out of their holiday stupors brought on by a heady mix of overspending, family, food, and afternoon naps. 

“What happened?” you might be asking yourself. “What am I supposed to do now?”

The first question is between you and your AmEx card. As for the second, I suggest that you take a deep breath, count your blessings, and reorient your business mind for a new year.

If you’re in the mobile game -- and I assume that you are -- 2016 is more about apps than ever before.

Just consider the numbers. By the end of the year, the app economy is on track to reach $143 billion, according to a new report from ACT | The App Association, based on data from research2guidance, AppNation, and VisionMobile.

If accurate, that figure will be up from $120 billion in 2015, and just $1.9 billion way back in good ol’ 2008.

What’s driving this thriving economy? That inherently independent brand of American innovation combined with the decentralization of business that technology has promised for years, it seems.

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Indeed, among 500 or so top-grossing app developers -- by The App Association’s measure -- 74% live within U.S. borders, while a whopping 82% reside outside of the comfy confines of Silicon Valley. What’s more, 82% of top developers are characterized as “small companies” by ACT.

“The App Store model is the ideal platform for small companies,” ACT writes in its new report. “Their size allows them to be nimble and respond quickly to market opportunities.”

Regarding Apple’s app marketplace, ACT adds: “Since the store manages distribution, payments, and security, a startup can focus almost all of its resources on software development.” As such, “This ease of publishing contributes to dramatically shortened development cycles.”

Spelling even more opportunity in the New Year, a clear majority -- 68% -- of top developer have unfilled positions they are looking to fill.

And we’re not just talking about software engineers. Rather, “Creating a successful app has a broad impact on the job market well beyond traditional tech positions,” according to ACT. “As an app begins to generate momentum, small teams soon discover they need specialists in marketing, management, business development, and customer support.”

This column was previously published in Moblog on January 4, 2016.

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