Blog: Policymakers Should Look to Accelerate the Spread of the App Economy

The failure of the app intended to collect results from the Democratic caucuses in Iowa wasn’t the best advertisement for the App Economy. But we have to remember that apps play a central role in the economy.

As part of a global project measuring the size of the App Economy, we estimated the U.S. App Economy to have 2.246 million App Economy jobs as of April 2019. That’s an increase of 30 percent from our December 2016 estimate of 1.729 million jobs.

Many of them are at large corporations in tech hubs like the Bay Area, New York City, or Austin. But App Economy jobs aren’t exclusive to the tech sector or major cities. In fact, a growing number have seeped into smaller metro to rural areas, the physical industries, as well as startups.

For instance, as of February 2020, small IT firm Four Nodes was hiring a mobile application developer with experience in Android in Camden, Delaware. Kent Displays, which makes e-writing displays, was looking for a mobile app developer in Kent, Ohio. Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines was searching for a lead IT service desk analyst with knowledge of Android and iOS in Des Moines, Iowa. Television broadcasting company CBS was seeking a frontend engineer with experience in iOS and or Android development in Louisville, Kentucky.

In terms of App developing companies, Little Rock-based Apptegy is an education technology startup that allows administrators to tailor how they market their school. Leawood, Kansas-based Farmobile allows farmers to collect and share data with agronomists and other farmers. And Fargo, North Dakota-based WalkWise uses a walker attachment to track fitness data and send alerts using its mobile app.

Indeed, the ability to code from anywhere coupled with apps’ integration with the physical world (which accounts for roughly 80 percent of the economy) has democratized opportunity in these areas for businesses and consumers alike. And the Internet of Things, which will enable individuals and companies to use mobile apps to interact with physical objects and processes such as their home, cars, equipment, and warehouses, only promises to increase the interaction between apps and the physical world.

Here are some examples of App Economy jobs in the physical industries: as of February 2020, agricultural merchandiser Tractor Supply Company was hiring a mobile apps IT architect in Brentwood, Tennessee. Medical device company Medtronic was looking for a senior software quality engineer with experience in iOS and Android in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Manufacturing company IDEX was searching for a QA test engineer with knowledge of iOS or Android in Huntsville, Alabama. As of January 2020, ecommerce company was seeking a senior Android developer in Melville, New York.

From this perspective, apps play a critical role in spreading the information revolution beyond the traditional metro hubs and tech sector. They serve as an important means to unlocking growth for smaller metro and rural areas, the physical industries, and startups.

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