Now Might Be a Good Time to be an App Developer

Parents usually rattle off a list of desirable jobs when prompted about their children’s future livelihoods. A doctor, a lawyer, a bank manager — all these make the list. I wanted to be a zoologist myself when I was a child. An app developer is a job that probably doesn’t cross one’s mind when it comes to a potential career.

It might be worth a mention then that a slowing global economy (a BBC news report highlights a rather modest 2.7% global economic growth for 2017) doesn’t mean that app economy is in the doldrums.

In fact, things appear to be much more optimistic for the app economy however. A report from market research firm, App Annie, has revealed that it’s expected to exceed a value of US$101 billion in 2020.


So what’s causing this growth? Chances are, everyone you passed in the street today owned a smartphone. However, people in emerging and developing nations have only started to own a smartphone for the first time in the last couple of years. Just imagine how many smartphone users have just entered the world of mobile apps, and also how many more will do so in the coming years ahead. More people will be spending money on and within apps.

Remember how your friends and neighbours were prowling the streets looking for that rare Snorlax? It’s difficult to dismiss the global phenomenon that was Pokémon GO in 2016, and how games still remain a huge force in the app economy.

Pokémon GO reached $800 million in consumer spend in just 110 days. Friends who never touched a video game in their life were hooked by the unique combination of augmented reality (AR), gentle learning curve and low barrier to entry. With that in mind, game developers will probably be looking at unique and novel ways to capture more users and generate more revenue.

Games will still remain a major contributor to the app economy (Image Source: App Annie)

Augment the Experience

Pokémon GO has also shown that AR is here to stay. In fact, many of us are already familiar with AR, and believe me when I say I’ve seen far too many dog filters popping up on my social media feed thanks to Snapchat. But AR can also be used in other scenarios, such as for retail or educational purposes.

It is quite exciting when you consider just how AR can be applied to other uses — such as having the ability to see how a piece of furniture looks in your home will definitely help furniture retailers such as IKEA sell more of their products. Tango is also an exciting look at how AR will change the way we view the world around us, though this is highly dependent on the number of Tango-ready devices that will be released in the months ahead.

Shopping from the Palm of Your Hand

With basically a miniature computer in your hand, it’s not only gaming that’s made more accessible and convenient, but shopping as well. From visiting a brick-and-mortar store to using a web browser to buy items, now you can get your shopping fix right in the palm of your hand. As users get more comfortable and familiar with mobile shopping, the time spent on such apps will increase and demand for brands and companies to have a mobile presence will definitely grow.

It’s also very common to see web-centric retailers to have more polished apps that provide good user experience. ASOS, Amazon and other online retailers all strive to make the entire process as seamless and convenient as possible. After all, the lack of a physical presence means they have to up their game online, and traditional retailers will have to do more than just dipping their toes in the water in the increasingly competitive mobile shopping space.

Asian consumers are leading the way in terms of mobile commerce, with Singapore, India, Hong Kong and China ahead of the pack and brands from outside the region would do well to capitalise on this trend. Brands with a physical presence will likely be driving growth in this sector as more consumers spend their retail dollars through mobile apps.

Infographic Source: DigitasLBi

Speaking of brands with a physical presence, there’s a high probability of other brick-and-mortar businesses investing in their own apps in an effort incorporate mobile into the way their businesses are conducted. We see it happening already — banks are releasing their own apps in a bid to encourage customers to use their services and credit cards, while consumers are spending more time in transportation apps such as Grab and Uber.

The year looks promising for the app economy, and we expect to see growth in all sectors, especially in the business to consumer aspect. As more companies from traditional industries realise that it’s imperative to invest in mobile, apps will play a greater role in creating opportunities for brands and companies.

2017 might be a good time to start considering a career as an app developer.

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