A report was published yesterday that claimed that the “app economy” has created 466,000 jobs in the last few years. For those that don’t know, the app economy includes the people who develop the applications, the people who help those people, and the support people behind it all. Whether it is the initial developer, or the indie shop, or the company that cleans the offices of the developers, these are all part of the “app economy”.
The app economy has existed from the beginning of software sales, a decades old market. However, often times the opportunities were siloed at larger companies, where the impact of new innovations didn’t end up helping large numbers of people. This is because, as a rule of thumb, one large company does not create as many jobs as 15 equally sized smaller companies.
To be fair, large corporations did create jobs. However, the jobs they created did not create a halo effect on the economy. Consider that when Microsoft hires 5 new developers, they don’t need to hire a new janitor. They already have one. However, when 5 new developers are able to start their own company easily, they need to hire cleaning staff. That’s the halo effect of the “app economy”.
This all drastically changed when Apple debuted the App Store. Rather than having a few companies being chosen to have access to the App Store, the entire store was open to all. Of course, there were restrictions, but by and large, everyone that could code and design was given an equal chance in the store. This spawned an entirely new generation of the app economy.
Following Apple’s lead with the App Store, companies like Google, HP, RIM and Microsoft all opened up their mobile platforms to independent developers. Rather than focusing on bundled applications (the business model for dumb-phones), they focused on creating great developer tools and a great platform. This influx of platforms allowed developers to have their choice of development platform, all equally unknown, and all equally promising.
Naturally, as an extension of this, many people were able to create new jobs. Developers were able to make a living working for themselves, and new money entered the economy. Funds like the iFund were started, with the sole purpose of enabling people to create mobile applications and start new companies. This leads to more job growth, and eventually, the economy starts spinning so fast it creates jobs out of created jobs. It is self-replicating.
This is all nice and convenient to know, but the real reason I’m bringing it up is because of the focus on Apple’s manufacturing sector recently. People have accused Apple of being unpatriotic and asking Apple to “bring the jobs home”. What people don’t realize though, is that Apple never took the jobs away. Instead, Apple made it possible for nearly half-of-a-million people to find new jobs in this economy. On the surface, that is good enough, but it gets even better when you look at the job comparisons. Not only are these jobs better than Foxconn jobs, but they pay more, and cause self-employment.
Apple, Google and Microsoft have managed to push an entirely new segment of the market in this country. A market that pays people more than minimum wage, and a market where people can be their own bosses. A market that didn’t exist before, and yet is now responsible for 466,000 jobs since 2008. Sure, it’s not politically palatable, but frankly, that doesn’t really matter. The numbers speak for themself in the end.