Pandemic boosts UK app development economy

It has recently been revealed that App developers on Apple’s iOS platform saw an increase in both UK jobs and earning last year, despite the pandemic.

According to the tech giant, apps on its App Store now support over 330,000 jobs an increase of over 10 percent over the past 12 months. This increase is largely attributed to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, with social distancing forcing many companies to fast-track their digital transformation initiatives. As a result, this saw earnings for app developers in the UK rise by 22 percent to £3.6 billion in 2020.

This trend has been replicated across Europe, with jobs within the app economy increasing by 7 percent since 2019, with now approximately 1.7 million jobs active. However, according to Apple, the UK takes the lead in terms of iOS app developers jobs overall. 

“In a year like no other, the UK has remained a vibrant and innovative hub for entrepreneurs and app developers,” App Store senior director, Christopher Moser said in a statement.

“More people in the UK than ever before are working as part of the iOS app ecosystem, creating innovative and exciting apps enjoyed by people all over the world.”

Digitisation drives efficiency

While app use was undoubtedly on the rise before the pandemic, Covid-19 has been a real catalyst for growth. The rise of remote work and the UK’s social distancing initiatives has meant that previously in-person events and activities have had to move to remote settings. This has led businesses from all sorts of industries — from bakeries to bookstores — to adapt quickly to an increasingly virtual world. 

It’s likely that even after Covid-19 pressures ease, developers should expect these Covid-induced trends to continue. While many brands have had to rely on apps and digital platforms to be able to survive and keep up with demand,  they’ve also discovered the long-term benefits of digitisation. 

Many industries have experienced a completely streamlined upheaval of their processes in terms of providing a better and more efficient service, as well as savings on cost.

The healthcare industry is a prime example of this. Throughout the pandemic, the NHS turned to technology to help continue their service while minimising contact and the risk of infection. 

Telemedicine  the use of telephone, video and online consultations in patient management has significantly increased efficiency, a key component in helping to reduce the NHS backlog of patients. This digitised approach to healthcare has also been shown to be cost-effective to both the patient and the provider. 

As Dr Sam Wessely, a general practitioner in London explained to the NY Times:

“We’re basically witnessing 10 years of change in one week. It used to be that 95 percent of patient contact was face-to-face: You go to see your doctor, as it has been for decades, centuries. But that has changed completely.”

It’s not just the UK healthcare industry that has witnessed the benefits of digital transformation and the power of a brand app. Improvements in efficiency and time-saving have also been experienced by many other customer-focused businesses including e-commerce and banking. According to research by deVere Group, the coronavirus has driven a massive 72 percent rise in the use of FinTech apps in Europe. While a long-term shift was already underway within the industry, the forced exposure of banking apps to consumers has created a sizeable number of converts. 

Improved team collaboration? There’s an app for that!

With the shift from in-office to remote working, followed the rapid uptake of video conferencing and collaboration apps. In March 2020 alone, Microsoft Teams witnessed a 1000 percent user adoption increase, with competitors such as Google Meets and Zoom also reporting significant profits this past year. 

It’s not just video conferencing apps that has skyrocketed in usage. The plethora of collaboration tools available today has been a major factor in the success of remote working businesses.  

As more and more companies have found themselves with workers spread across the globe,  digital apps and platforms have been fundamental to success and ultimately, survival.

The rise of real-time messaging apps like Slack, online file-sharing apps like Dropbox, and project management tools like has given companies a host of tools they can use to underpin growth and connectivity. This growing adoption of collaborative apps has allowed businesses to rethink old business processes, becoming more agile and streamlined. ultimately increasing productivity levels and profits.

With many businesses now realising the importance of improved collaboration, unsurprisingly, this has meant that spending on social software and collaboration tools has been on the rise. According to Gartner, it’s expected to reach $4.8 billion in 2023 — almost double the estimated $2.7 billion spent in 2018. As a result, we are likely to see many new players enter the market, and endless updates and additional features in order to stay competitive and keep up with user demands. 

The future is digital

It’s an exciting time to be working in the technology industry. A new era has begun, with digitalisation and new technologies driving the shift. The UK’s booming iOS app economy is the product of the innovative and highly-skilled developers whose work is changing the lives of millions of users every day. From helping children to learn while at home, enabling families to stay connected, or helping us all keep track of our physical and mental health; the UK has been a huge player in making this happen.

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