Why are all the biggest app developers from America or Asia? The EU Member State with the most internationally-competitive app developers is currently the United Kingdom, with around 450 companies. Compare this to the US, which hosts over 1,500 top app developers, or China, which hosts more than 770. After Brexit, the EU will be in an even worse position, with Germany being the top EU country for app developers (with around 300 companies based there).
The app economy was worth $143 billion in 2016. That’s not bad if you consider the market was worth only $1.9 billion in 2008 when the two most-popular app stores (together sharing 99% of the market), the Apple App store and Google Play, were launched. The future of the internet is mobile (particularly in the developing world), so how can Europe make sure it isn’t left behind in the app game?
On 21 June 2018, Debating Europe attended an event in Brussels on the EU app economy. Participants spoke about some of the factors hampering the growth of the app economy, including access to financing, a shortage of employees with the right digital skills, and the need to constantly upgrade infrastructure to support mobile internet. We put some of our readers’ questions to the panellists at the event to see how they would react.
Is Europe lagging behind in the app economy? To get an answer, we spoke to Emilian Pavel, a Romanian social democratic MEP. Did he think that European companies and app developers were struggling to compete with their counterparts in Asia and the US?
For another take, we put the same question to Lie Junius, Director of EU Public Policy and Government Relations at Google. What would she say?
We wanted to hear from a representative of app developers themselves, so we also spoke to Michela Palladino, Director of European Policy and Government Relations at the Developers Alliance, a non-profit organisation that advocates on behalf of developers. Did she think something was holding European app developers back from being as competitive and innovative as developers from other parts of the world?
What do our readers think? We had a comment from Oliver, who wants to see much more investment in 4G coverage (and, presumably, now 5G). Mobile apps rely on people have cheap, fast, and ubiquitous wireless internet access. So, is Europe lagging behind in wireless broadband infrastructure?
What would MEP Emilian Pavel say to Oliver’s comment?
To get another perspective, we put the same question to Michela Palladino from the Developers Alliance. Did she think Europe should invest more in wireless broadband infrastructure?
Finally, we had a comment from Ash, who is worried about the skills shortage in the European labour force. In order to have a thriving app economy, Europe will need skilled programmers and engineers. Ash suggests there needs to be much better access to digital skills training across the EU. Is he right?
To get a response, we put Ash’s suggestion to Lie Junius, Director of EU Public Policy and Government Relations, Google. How would she react?
Is Europe still lagging behind in its app economy? Should EU countries invest more in wireless broadband infrastructure? Is the lack of digital skills across Europe creating a bottleneck? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – bigtunaonline
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