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Surprise, surprise. The app market is thriving … and adding jobs

February 15th, 2012 |  Published in Apple, Digital and Mobile Technology, Media 2.0, Telecom and broadband

15 February 2012 – Last year there were a series of dire warnings that app developers would be driven from the U.S. by the activities of NPEs

But lo and behold, TechNet (a telecom/technology CEO network that to which we subscribe) says au contraire.  The surge in mobile software and other apps has led to a surge in jobs, almost half a million just in the U.S. by their estimate.  

Dubbed the “app economy,” the million or so apps created just for iOS and Android devices represent jobs for programmers, designers, marketers, managers, support staff, and other professionals, according to the TechNet report entitled “Where the Jobs Are: The App Economy”  (you can read the executive summary by clicking here).

But how just many jobs?  The analysis conducted for TechNet by Michael Mandel, president of South Mountain Economics and former chief economist for BusinessWeek, found that the app economy has been responsible for adding an estimated 466,000 jobs in the U.S., up from zero in 2007 when the iPhone was first unveiled.

However, it’s important to point out, as the study notes in its executive summary, that these are estimates and “may represent ‘jobs not lost’ rather than net jobs gained.”

That total includes jobs at a business like Zynga, which creates Facebook apps, as well as app-related jobs at companies like Electronic Arts, Amazon, and AT&T. It also naturally covers jobs at top app players such as Apple, Google, and Facebook.

As detailed in the study, the core platforms in the “app economy” include Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS, RIM’s BlackBerry, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and Facebook’s own apps.

The top metro spot for app economy jobs proved to be New York City and its surrounding counties, according to Mandel’s research. But San Francisco and San Jose combined exceeded the jobs created in and around NYC. California got the nod as the highest state for app economy jobs. But the rest of the country is also benefiting, with almost two-thirds of the jobs counted outside California and New York.

As the study notes, on an economic level, each app represents jobs — programmers, for user interface designers, for marketers, for managers, for support staff. Conventional employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are not able to  track such a new phenomenon.

Query:  in the great scheme of things perhaps NPEs do not matter much at all. RPX Corp has just signed an agreement with Alcatel-Lucent that some observers believe could generate US$1 billion in extra licensing revenue for the telecoms company in 2012 alone.  The deal could be a win-win for everyone concerned.

Yes, issues abound.  As Google edges towards the launch of its first physical product,  there are major IP challenges that this move poses. In the same vein,  Facebook’s patent strategy has come under scrutiny as the company approaches its IPO.  In Europe, meanwhile, the European Commission’s competition chief sent an ominous warning to the smartphone sector in its Google/Motorola decision.

Don’t you just love turmoil?

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