UK iOS app economy thrives amid COVID-19

The events of the last 12 months have driven significant growth across the iOS market, which now supports more than 330,000 jobs across the nation

With the UK still in the midst of a national lockdown, the full social and financial impact of the pandemic is yet to be seen – but one thing we already know is that the iOS app economy has thrived.

Since businesses and industries first migrated to the online space last March in response to the global crisis, digital became a lifeline for citizens as it kept them connected and entertained, and allowed students to learn despite prolonged school closures – but it also proved a reliable stream of professional opportunity, innovation and economic growth.

Despite the challenges of the past year, app developers have continued to see their businesses grow, with the App Store now supporting over 330,000 jobs across the country – a surge of more than 10% in just a 12-month period – according to data from Apple.

Since Apple first launched the App Store back in 2008, the nation’s developers have generated a colossal £3.6bn in total earnings – growing 22% in 2020 compared to 2019. Similar growth has been seen across Europe, where the iOS app market now supports 1.7m professionals – a 7% increase since 2019. The UK leads the EU region for iOS app developer opportunities, followed by Germany and France, which are both estimated to host more than 250,000 specialist jobs in the field.

On top of relying on digital technologies for things like work and education, citizens across the UK have turned to apps to track and maintain their health and wellbeing. During the pandemic, workout apps like  One You Couch to 5K, fitness plan app Fiit, and sleep support app Sleepiest Sleep Sounds Stories, have seen significant surges in sign ups. UK developer Moshi – a sleep and mindfulness app designed for children – has seen considerable growth in downloads and subscriptions, according to App Store research, leading to a 50% expansion of its in-house team which now has 10 new hires.

Christopher Moser, senior director of the App Store, commented: “In a year like no other, the UK has remained a vibrant and innovative hub for entrepreneurs and app developers. More people in the UK than ever before are working as part of the iOS app ecosystem, creating exciting apps enjoyed by people all over the world.”

Stories of success from the iOS app economy

Busuu – described as “the global language learning community”, Busuu saw rapid expansion throughout 2020, leading to 70 new hires which means the corporation has now doubled in size. This year, the company hopes to bolster its team by more than half again, leading to plenty of opportunities for aspiring app developers.

“As more people around the world turned to language learning during lockdown, we saw huge growth here at Busuu – it’s been fantastic to see more people join our community to learn together” – Bernhard Niesner, CEO, Busuu

Digital Workroom – it’s been a rewarding year for Digital Workroom, which creates productivity apps such as Noted, with the company doubling its employee base over the last 12 months. The company recently announced a new partnership with the University of Manchester to develop an app that can safely report crucial information for patients when they visit their GP.

“Helping general practitioners to use apps to provide healthcare during the pandemic has been incredibly rewarding and a reminder of the important role apps can play in our lives” – Terenze Yuen, CEO, Digital Workroom

Hutch Games – this company has kept people entertained with free-to-play games such as F1 Manager, Top Drives, and Rebel Racing. Starting from a humble team of four, Hutch Games now employs 117 people, recruiting 31 new hires in the past year alone. In 2021, Hutch plans to expand its workforce with another 30–40 recruits.

“We’ve had an amazing few years, which has allowed us to grow and take more risks. We saw our figures double during lockdown, so it’s helpful that we can get our games out there so easily via the App Store” – Shaun Rutland, CEO, Hutch Games

App Store’s Small Business programme allows companies to prosper

The App Store’ Small Business programme (SBP), launched in early 2021, has helped the iOS app market along, reducing the commission small developers are required to pay by 50%. These savings have enabled such companies to grow their digital revenue and invest in essential elements of their business – such as product development.

In other news: Scottish government launches post-COVID strategy to increase digital participation and skills


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