With nearly 500,000 “app economy” jobs in the US, will this become the new trend?

| Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

A recent research by Dr. Michael Mandel of South Mountain Economics says that the smartphone industry has created nearly 500,000 new jobs for the economy. It’s hard to doubt such a claim. Since the release of the iPhone in 2007 and the announcement of the App Store one year later, a new market has been created. The app market. I remember when applications were just seen as tiny games that we played while waiting for the train or in the doctor’s office. What were some of their names? I believe Cube Runner was one of them. Great game, but you wouldn’t think that a company could rise from that, right? You’d be correct. The app was created by one guy, Andy Qua. Great guy, but I highly doubt he’s accepting resumes for positions. So that’s where we were one to three years ago. However, today is so different. This is now where the jobs are.

An app can now be a company. Don’t believe me? I’ll list some out right now. Ness, Zite (acquired by CNN), Evernote, Pulse, Path, and Instagram. Not only are those the names of both the apps and the companies, but the CEOs of four out of the six made BusinessInsider’s The Silicon Valley 100 list; right up there with people like Larry Page, Steve Jobs, Kevin Rose, Dave McClure, and the rest. How did they make it up there? Apps. But not just any apps. Apps with impact. That brings us to the study.

With the app economy generating nearly $20 billion in revenue in 2011 (this includes downloads, in-app sales, virtual goods, and  physical goods and services), it makes you wonder where this new phenomenon is heading. Will this soon generate Fortune 500 jobs? Will landing a high-ranking job at a startup that produces one or two apps become the definition of success?

When you break down the research report, it shows that when it comes to employment, just about each app represents job opportunities. Whether that be as a programmer, user interface/experience designer, marketer, or manager, they’re all jobs nonetheless. The new haven for such job opportunities are found in places like NYC, San Francisco and San Jose (Silicon Valley), though the last two substantially exceed that of New York with nearly one in four jobs being app oriented, naturally. However, states like Florida, Georgia, and Illinois are getting there too. In fact, more than two-thirds of this app economy employment is outside of California and New York. The research results also suggest that the app economy’s hotspots and job numbers are likely to shift greatly in a few years.

[quote]”America’s App Economy – which had zero jobs just 5 years ago before the iPhone was introduced – demonstrates that we can quickly create economic value and jobs through cutting-edge innovation,” said Rey Ramsey, President and CEO of TechNet. “Today, the App Economy is creating jobs in every part of America, employing hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers today and even more in the years to come.”[/quote]

So what does this mean for the average consumer? You might think not much if you’re not a programmer. However, it’s the polar opposite. It’s beginning to look like apps are becoming the new foundations (or building blocks) for strong companies. Have a well made app? Build a team around it and form a company. Every company needs a support staff, engineer, designer, manager, etc. So if any of that fits your criteria, you’re in good standing. If you’re not, you’re still in good standing. My series of interviews with founders, creators, and leaders of major apps easily suggests that you don’t necessarily need to understand C++ or SDKs to build an app. Have a reasonable idea? Can it become scalable? Then you might be the one sifting through applications in a few years.

All in all, this research and this article both make reference to the fact that our economy is changing – rapidly. No longer are we subject to a degree to pay the rent. Creativity is the way of the future. When it’s harnessed into creating an app, that app can bring food to other people’s tables. With nearly 500,000 jobs created (and counting), an economy breakthrough might be on the horizon. It seems that Steve Jobs’ motto has finally come to fruition: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” Five years ago, if you were to tell your mother you’d ditch college to make a game, she’d probably disown you. Today, Rovio, creator of Angry Birds (which is a game if you didin’t know), is worth more than $1 billion. How does that sound, Mom?

You can check out the full research sponsored by Technet titled “Where the Jobs Are” here.

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