Much has been made recently of how the App Economy is a “job leader.” People are saying that the App Economy has “managed to create jobs during the worst recession since the Great Depression,” and has created 466,000 jobs since 2007. This is clearly good news, but I’m skeptical of the future of this App Economy to continue creating jobs. Here are some random thoughts:
- Current App Economy growth is probably driven in large part by the the adoption of new mobile operating systems. Once the mobile market is saturated, App Economy growth may level off.
- In an open app marketplace, apps compete against all other apps. This inevitably leads to the superstar effect.
- As with other software, for every paid app there is likely to be a free ad-driven alternative, and for every ad-driven alternative, there is likely to be an ad-free alternative developed by amateurs. Digital abundance tends to drive prices down toward zero.
- As computers increase in power, it will become easy to absorb many app features into other apps, or even into the operating systems themselves, possibly creating convergence towards just a few “everything” apps.
- New creation tools will make it easy for ordinary people to quickly create custom apps and thereby lower the market rate of app developers. As an analogy, consider the plethora of easy-to-use blogging tools that exist today. Not long ago, building a robust blog would have required hiring a web developer, or at least learning a bit of programming. Building a simple app may soon be as easy as starting a blog.
- Improved device and network speeds will allow the remote execution of app-style programs through your web browser, effectively bypassing the App Economy entirely.