There's no escaping the app economy


As recently as five years ago, there really wasn't any kind of mobile app sector to speak of. Now the "app economy" has nearly half a million jobs, according to a study sponsored by TechNet, a policy group made up of technology companies.

The app-related jobs include positions for programmers, user interface designers, marketing professionals, managers and support staff. The TechNet study, conducted by South Mountain Economics, looked at jobs at app companies like Zynga as well as large firms like AT&T (NYSE: T), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Facebook and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). TechNet is touting the app economy as an example of the way in which technological innovation can create jobs.

"From the economic perspective, we can think of the App Economy as a collection of interlocking innovative ecosystems. Each ecosystem consists of a core company, which creates and maintains a platform and an app marketplace, plus small and large companies that produce apps and/or mobile devices for that platform. Businesses can belong to multiple ecosystems and usually do," the report (.pdf) reads. "Every major consumer-facing company, and many business-facing companies, has discovered that they need an app to be the public face of the business."

The finding is backed up by a separate study released this week by Robert Half Technology. As a new survey of CIOs shows, businesses of all shapes and sizes are jumping on the app band wagon. Nearly half of the CIOs polled said that their companies already offer an app or will sometime in the next 12 months. Naturally, mobile app developers are increasingly in demand.

Not surprisingly, the San Francisco and San Jose areas combined are home to the most app-related jobs, with the New York City metro area coming in second, according to TechNet. However, more than two-thirds of app economy jobs are located in states other than California and New York.

To really make the app economy an unmitigated success and create more jobs to boot, let's call on more of the players in the interlocking ecosystems to find better ways to ensure that data running over the apps can be secure. This may not be the most exciting avenue of innovation, but it is a needed one. - Caron