In the United States, the app economy, as of late 2012, had created close to 530,000 jobs and served as a significant economic driver for a number of states. A study released by CTIA-The Wireless Association and the Application Developers Alliance, dubbed The Geography of the App Economy, reported more than 2.4 million apps available on more than 11 different operating systems and the stat that by 2016, mobile app revenue would be more than $46 billion.
Europe wants in. No wonder, when you see stats like the one from ABI Research this year that point to the combined app revenue from tablets and smartphones being projected to reach $92 billion by 2018, and to the app economy growing at 44.6 percent on average annually. But the continent needs some data to help it get its spot in the limelight, which is where Eurapp comes in.
The newly launched venture, Eurapp, was birthed by the European Commission, and is being run by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway in conjunction with tech industry analyst firm GigaOM Research. It’s part of the Startup Europe initiative of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda, which aims to help tech entrepreneurs start, maintain and grow their businesses in Europe. NUI Galway’s Dr John Breslin, SIOC creator and co-founder of iPad news and social reader app StreamGlider (see our story here) is leading the Eurapp project at DERI.
The effort starts with a workshop of developers, platform providers, regulators and other participants coming together next month in Brussels to tackle the topic of how to grow the European app economy. Among the scheduled speaker participants will be a rep from Swiftkey, the natural language processing and machine-learning tech that speeds up touch-screen typing.
Of course, not every app in the app economy – in the States or Europe – has semantic tech or Linked Data at its heart. But even a casual stroll through this site points out how many of them are; it only makes sense, given the overall mobile domination trend. The average smartphone in 2012 contained 41 apps, according to Nielsen, which also noted for last year that users were consuming 8 percent more time on native Android and iOS applications than at the same time in 2011.
After the workshop, solutions to address bottlenecks to app developers – in the way of environmental, technical, or financial challenges – in the way of new EU policies or other efforts will be crowdsourced in two innovation challenges, a release on the effort reports.
"We know that in Europe there are the usual challenges with finding certain types of skills for app design and creation, but I think there are also lots of strengths where we can perhaps have an advantage," Breslin says. "The EU’s support of emerging technologies and research like Linked Data and the Semantic Web helps here. We’ve seen innovative semantic app companies like Seevl – providing music recommendations based on Linked Music Data – and Mila – the mobile marketplace for tasks and errands - coming out of Europe. Also, our diversity in terms of languages and cultures – from EU-citizens but also from non-EU citizens living here -- means that European companies like Tethras can provide localisation technologies and skilled translation services for apps that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere."
The European Commission, by the way, is itself becoming a player in the app economy. It’s recently developed the iPad information extraction app EMM, a machine that is billed as automatically determining who, where and, to a certain extent, what is being reported in the news. Developed by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission as part of its ongoing research program into multilingual text mining, information extraction and analysis, it’s leveraging text analysis to parse 150,000 articles a day in more than 70 different languages, automatically identifying topics, people and organizations and grouping articles into stories about the same subject for tracking over time.