By Johanna Colburn, New Media and Marketing Coordinator, Department of Business and Economic Development
The smartphones now found in the pockets and purses of nearly half of all American adults and the mobile apps that run on those devices are good for more than finding driving directions, checking emails and slinging cartoon birds at cartoon pigs. Those apps also create jobs.
A recent study commissioned by the Application Developers Alliance showed that Maryland has a strong app economy, with 8,400 application development jobs and an economic impact of $436 million as of April 2012. The study ranked Maryland the 15th most app-intense state in the country and showed that with its proximity to Washington, D.C., the state benefits from app development specifically related to the government and military sectors.
Since the iPhone debuted in 2007, the app industry has produced 519,000 jobs nationwide, the study found, and has contributed to the economies of every state. “The U.S. is killing it on mobile innovation,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said during a stop at the Tech Crunch offices last month.
Many app developers start their own businesses and the study cited another reason Maryland benefits from the app economy — the state is home to an increasing number of startups.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in June ranked Maryland the top state in the country for innovation and entrepreneurship, due in large part to resources available to entrepreneurs here, the strong research culture and the highly educated workforce. It also doesn’t hurt that Baltimore ranked eighth in the Forbes’ 2010 list of America’s Most Wired Cities for internet broadband adoption, the range of internet service providers, and the availability of public wireless hot spots.
App economy jobs do not stop at developers but extend to nearly every segment of the modern workforce. Jobs can be found at both small and large enterprises, both tech and non-tech, from major tech companies to startups, government agencies and universities. Once a company has built a successful app they have to extend the app to new operating systems, add new capabilities, and respond to customer questions, all of which require paid employees. Someone has to make sure that the apps are secure against hackers and cyber-attack. Companies that do app development also have to hire sales people, marketers, human resource specialists and accountants.
Both businesses and individual users take advantage of apps. According to the Pew Research Center, 45 percent of American adults owned a smartphone as of August 2012, up from 35 percent in May 2011. The Apple App Store contained more than 700,000 active apps as of August 2012, up about 40 percent over the end of 2011. The number of apps for Android has risen at roughly the same pace over that period.
It’s not surprising that Maryland stacks up well in app development. Maryland ranks third in the 2010 State New Economy Index a measure of a state’s economy as knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, information technology-driven and innovation-based. In addition to top entrepreneurship and innovation ranking, the chamber’s Enterprising States study ranked Maryland fifth in “Growth, Productivity and Livability,” and seventh in the human capital “Talent Pipeline.” The report, placed Maryland seventh among the “Next Boom States,” which are best positioned to grow, create jobs and prosper in the next five years.