Are Smartphones a Long-Term Jobs Savior?
Almost a quarter of the country owns a smartphone, and the number is growing. Nearly one in ten Americans is unemployed, and judging by the jobs report for the month of June, that number too is also creeping up.
According to a recent survey, the two upticks need not be wholly unrelated. As America continues its long-term transition into a permanent information economy, a recent survey conducted by freelancer.com of 100,000 jobs shows that the number of smartphone development jobs grew 12 percent from the first quarter of 2011 to the second. Jobs ranging from software engineers to marketing positions for the Android, iPhone and iPad all saw double-digits growth rates over the two quarters. Technical support also comprises a large share of the new jobs.
"Overall market growth in 2010 was exceptional," said senior research analyst at the International Data Corporation (IDC), Kevin Restivo. "Last year's high market growth was due in part to pent-up demand from a challenging 2009, when many buyers held off on mobile phone purchases."
But, as a post on All Things Digital points out, there is a significant catch. These are jobs that not only require formal training but also fall within categories that are often outsourced overseas. The divergence between the domestic creation of such products like the California-invented Android and iPhone and the foreign development jobs they create has not gone unnoticed. An authority no less than President Obama has taken pains to emphasize the importance of finding ways to keep such jobs stateside during public statements like his responses to the recent twitter town hall.
Such a breakthrough would require either more robust regulation against outsourcing, or the creation of incentives for companies to keep the development jobs in America. Regardless, it's not common for any major industry to see a doubling of its market in one calendar year. But that's exactly what the IDC expects for smartphones in 2011. It projects the number of smartphone units shipped to jump from 303.4 million in 2010 to 450 million this year.
And while smartphone technology has been credited for helping entrepreneurs throughout Africa, the extent to which smartphones are still an American behemoth cannot go understated. Indeed, America is still far from seeing its smartphone market saturated. Of the 234 million people in America with mobile phones, 78.8 million have a smartphone, according to the digital marketing firm comScore. So each time a new app is downloaded, it might be worth keeping in mind the potential for new jobs to be created when you use that angry bird to kill the pig.
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