Publications / Policy Brief

Tracking Colombia’s App Economy

By and / 10.13.2016

All around the world we are seeing the rise of the App Economy— jobs, companies, and economic growth created by the production and distribution of mobile applications (“apps”) that run on smartphones. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the App Economy has grown from nothing to a powerful economic force that rivals existing industries.1

In this paper we examine the production and distribution of mobile apps as a source of growth and job creation for Colombia. We find that Colombia had over 83,100 App Economy jobs as of September 2016, including a conservative estimate of spillover jobs. What’s more, Colombia’s connectivity with the global economy, particularly the United States, gives the country the potential to add many more App Economy jobs in the near future.

Going forward, Colombia has several important advantages in positioning itself as a hub for domestic and export app development. Colombia benefits from a growing economy in a time of economic volatility in the region. For 2015, Colombia showed annual growth of 3.1 percent, while the overall Latin American economy contracted. This is a slowdown compared to the growth Colombia experienced in years 2010-2014, due in large part to external factors: the decrease in global demand, particularly from China; and falling oil prices, with petroleum accounting to nearly half of the country’s total exports.3 Growth is expected to slow further in 2016, with economic and political uncertainty, including the ongoing peace process and tax reform.


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