Got Infrastructure? Report Outlines Needs of $51 Billion App Economy


App use has grown more sophisticated since Texas Hold’em and Super Monkey Ball dominated Apple Inc.’s first generation of iPhone downloads a decade ago.

Fast forward and the app industry is set to hit $100 billion in revenues by 2020 as it fuels new growth in traditional sectors like healthcare, agriculture and manufacturing, according to an April 20 report by ACT | The App Association.

But Congress and regulators should support broadband infrastructure buildout to ensure the app ecosystem can deliver new mobile technologies, the mobile trade group said.

Artificial intelligence and internet of things' sensors will demand more wireless infrastructure as they integrate into the app ecosystem, the group’s fifth annual “State of the App Economy” report said. The report provides a snapshot of app development trends 10 years after the iPhone’s launch spurred a wave of tech entrepreneurs to launch new mobile software and digital platforms known as apps.

In 2016, more than 90 billion apps were downloaded, with the largest markets being Apple’s App Store and Alphabet Inc.'s Google Play, the group said.

App revenues hit $51 billion that year and are set to rise as developers tailor apps to be the interface between users and new technologies like AI and IoT platforms. Data collection through mobile devices holds the promise of fueling better services, from more accurate recommendations by AI-driven personal assistants like Siri, to improved disease treatment outcomes through mobile patient monitoring.

But these platforms will also lead to new connectivity demands.

Congress and regulatory agencies need to free up more government-held spectrum, ease regulations to make it easier to install wireless equipment on government buildings and incorporate broadband priorities in any infrastructure spending plan, Morgan Reed, ACT |The App Association president, said during a press call about the report.