Mozilla, Caribou Digital Release Report Exploring the Global App Economy

Mozilla is a proud supporter of research carried out by Caribou Digital, the UK-based think tank dedicated to building sustainable digital economies in emerging markets. Today, Caribou has released a report exploring the impact of the global app economy and international trade flows in app stores. You can find it here.

The findings highlight the app economy’s unbalanced nature. While smartphones are helping connect billions more to the Web, the effects of the global app economy are not yet well understood. Key findings from our report include:

  • Most developers are located in high-income countries. The geography of where app developers are located is heavily skewed toward the economic powerhouses, with 81% of developers in high-income countries — which are also the most lucrative markets. The United States remains the dominant producer, but East Asia, fueled by China, is growing past Europe.
  • Apps stores are winner-take-all. The nature of the app stores leads to winner-take-all markets, which skews value capture even more heavily toward the U.S. and other top producers. Conversely, even for those lower-income countries that do have a high number of developers — e.g., India — the amount of value capture is disproportionately small to the number of developers participating.
  • The emerging markets are the 1% — meaning, they earn 1% of total app economy revenue. 95% of the estimated value in the app economy is captured by just 10 countries, and 69% of the value is captured by just the top three countries. Excluding China, the 19 countries considered low- or lower-income accounted for only 1% of total worldwide value.
  • Developers in low-income countries struggle to export to the global stage. About one-third of developers in the sample appeared only in their domestic market. But this inability to export to other markets was much more pronounced for developers in low-income countries, where 70% of developers were not able to export, compared to high-income countries, where only 29% of developers were not able to export. For comparison, only 3% of U.S. developers did not export.
  • U.S. developers dominate almost all markets. On average, U.S. apps have 30% of the market across the 37 markets studied, and the U.S. is the dominant producer in every market except for China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Mozilla is proud to support Caribou Digital’s research, and the goal of working toward a more inclusive Internet, rich with opportunity for all users. Understanding the effects of the global app economy, and helping to build a more inclusive mobile Web, are key. We invite readers to read the full report here, and Caribou Digital’s blog post here.

[This blog post originally appeared on on February 1, 2016]

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