Apps: An innovation that spawned a trillion-dollar industry

Thursday 6 July 2017
Nic Crowther's picture
Co Editor
The Shaker

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in January 2007, the word ‘app’ didn’t really exist. Instead we talked about ‘programs’ that sometimes lived in an ‘Applications’ folder. However, very few out of the development community ever talked about ‘apps’.

Importantly, apps have not only created an industry of their own, they have created new industries (think Uber) and reinvented the way we engage with others (such as photography).

And Australians are getting in on the game as well.



But first, some numbers. There can be no doubt that the growth in this type of software has been explosive. Apple has seen over 150 billion apps downloaded for its iOS platform, and Google has dispatched roughly half that number.

However, in terms of direct, app-related revenues, Apple's App Store will remain the world's largest – and most profitable - mobile software market.

App Annie reported $34 billion in revenues for 2016 growing to $60 billion in 2021. Google Play is expected to grow from 2016's $17 billion to $42 billion in five years, while other Android stores grow from $10 billion to $36 billion. 



Source: App Annie


The cheaper price of Android phones (and the demographic that purchases them) explains the discrepancies between the two platforms. However, there is no doubt that Android is catching up.

As for Aussies, our population is almost as active in app development as the USA. That’s incredible news for a local industry that can sometimes feel a long way from the giants of Silicon Valley

According to, the App industry supports 113,000 jobs in Australia -  which represents 0.9% of all jobs., by comparison, Europe has an ‘App intensity’ of .08%, while the US is a little higher at 1.1%


Source: App Annie


It seems the ACT is the place for developers. While NSW has 1.5% of jobs wrapped up in the app industry, 2.4% of Canberrans are involved.

This industry is only set to grow. The report predicts that the amount of revenue generated from mobile apps. App Annie predicts that, by 2021 the total revenue across all mobile app stores, in-app advertising and mobile commerce will exceed US $5 trillion (last year was $1.3 trillion). Who doesn’t want to be involved in that?