The emergence of the $20 billion mobile applications market is not only revolutionizing the software industry, it's also having a profound impact on the national economy as well, a new study found. With smartphones and tablets providing new platforms for software developers, an entire new class of software entrepreneurs has emerged. And the majority of these new players are small businesses.
In fact, the majority (78 percent) of U.S. mobile app companies are small businesses, according to a survey of top apps in the Apple and Android App Stores conducted by the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), a trade group representing more than 3,000 small and mid-size app developers and information technology firms. Apple and Android represent 75 percent of the smartphone market.
Small businesses dominate across all top apps categories — games, education, productivity and business. They particularly dominate in games and education, where they have a 78 percent share and an 87 percent share respectively.
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The business category has the largest percentage of large company developers, due primarily to the popularity of apps that connect mobile users to existing services such as PayPal, UPS and FedEx, the survey found. But a poll of its membership conducted by ACT suggests that many of the "large business" apps were not built internally, but were built by small contract app development companies.
The growth of startups and new businesses to support this mobile apps ecosystem, which is predicted to top $100 billion by 2015, has also led to significant job creation during an otherwise troubled economic period, the ACT survey found. Research conducted by ACT and Microsoft's TechNet shows that the app economy has created between 400,000 and 600,000 jobs.
"The app marketplace is quickly expanding and creating opportunity all across America," said ACT executive director Morgan Reed. "The massive growth of startups and the rapid emergence of new business models demonstrate that the app economy is strong and will be an economic force for years to come. These findings confirm what we’ve been hearing in our meetings with app developers across the country. Small app companies are finding success with innovative new technologies, reaching foreign markets and creating jobs here at home."