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The True Impact of an App Economy


In a recent CTIA (The Wireless Association) Research poll, there are more than 2.4 million apps available for download on 11 different operating systems.  In light of these findings, it is safe to say that the development and distribution of apps, are a significant contributing force to today’s economy.

There is an undeniable impact throughout many states in the country that have collectively hired 519,000 app related jobs throughout the nation.  Interestingly enough, the jobs are not simply limited to technical professionals.  Entire businesses have arisen with the app as its central profit generator.  New app related businesses offer marketing professionals, advertisers, sales people and business professionals a new area to test their skills and earn a living.

In addition to the economic value derived from the app economy, there are various consequences for industries and individuals across the board in terms of how apps augment their day to day.  By taking a look at some of the way apps have truly redefined society, it is easier to understand how app market saturation is still far away and further economic growth is still on the horizon:

Job Openings Abound, Despite Other Industry Struggles

With an unemployment rate of 7.6% it is a bit surprising to hear of talent shortages and the inability to fill positions.  App developers however are a vital and limited resource for development companies and other businesses pursuing expansion.  In the United States there is a definite shortage of technically trained individuals who can develop apps or oversee projects adequately.  The talent shortage is reflected in the rise in pay for experienced app developers, which are in the six figure range.

Another figure that gives credence to the app economy can be seen in a recent report citing that mobile app consumption in the US is at an average of 127 minutes per day, compared to 70 minutes a day on the web.

When diving into the figures surrounding how long web proliferation took to occur and comparing that to the rapid proliferation of mobile apps, which has taken place in less than a decade, mobile apps are potentially as disruptive or even more disruptive than the web in the 80’s and 90’s.

Entire Industries Are Forced to Adapt

With recent news of PC sales declining 14% worldwide, there is little doubt around the fact that mobile devices and apps have turned the computing industry on its head.  PC makers are not the only ones suffering from the disruption caused by smartphones and tablets, BlackBerry and Microsoft have had issues breaking into the smart phone game as well as the app market.

Aside from technology, apps are revolutionizing how entire businesses operate.  For instance, a mobile app Taxi Turvi allows for individuals riding in cabs to find optimal routes with cost calculators.  Consumer apps such as Taxi Turvi provide increased control and options for users, potentially improving service for riders as well as ensuring drivers do not lose their way, by accident or on purpose.   In addition, it is expected that 25% of online sales will stem from mobile by 2017.

Another instance of app’s transforming business, can be seen in the abundance of mobile banking apps available.  PNC and other banks mobile offering include banking apps for self-service management of finances that are widely used. Self-service frees up customer service to focus on larger issues, while customers are in more control of their spending.  Specifically, PNC released a creative way to save through its Shake the Pig app.  PNC’s app uses the smartphones accelerometer to deposit $1 into a savings account by shaking your phone.

For nations where banking infrastructure is lacking, the increase in mobile banking offerings can benefit account holders and branches simultaneously.  Banks can worry less about funding physical locations, and customers have instant control and access to their finances.

Redefining Consumer Technology

Smartphone hardware is essentially a shell that can perform the functions of a variety of devices that once required specific hardware. For instance there are guitar tuning apps which perform the same functions as a standard tuner.  Also consider the lack of iPhone or Android presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  In part, their absence stems from their own preference for large scale product event launches.

But more importantly, consumer technology is moving from hardware centric offerings, to powerful and innovative software applications accessible through one piece of hardware, your smartphone.

CES is focused primarily on consumer technology, most of which has been hardware such as DVDs, VHS and plasma TVs. It is interesting to note that many new TV manufacturers are beginning to incorporate ‘apps’ into their devices.  At this point, the word app is being used to refer to widgets and other added functionality or features.  Now that apps are widely proliferated among consumers, the CES event managers have incorporated apps as a part of the exhibit, which is certainly a sign of the times.

Through our own work with Slomin’s, Icreon Tech developed an application for controlling security systems and accessing live camera feeds for monitoring one’s home or commercial property.  In addition, we worked with WorkTrainFight, a business that rents gym facilities to independent trainers and their clients.  The app we developed, functioned as a reception area solution for trainers and members to submit medical documents, sign up for classes and fill out contracts with no need for paper records or a receptionist.

As mobile apps are entering into all aspects of daily life from work to entertainment and fitness, are you anticipating the release of the first app T-shirt or refrigerator?