Why App Economy Jobs Seem Destined to Go Overseas

Photograph by Iain Masterton/Alamy

While the tech industry is heralded as the future of the U.S. economy, many people question Silicon Valley’s ability to create jobs the way Detroit did decades ago. Manufacturing jobs are primarily located overseas, and Apple and Google hire relatively few people to work for them directly. This leaves the so-called app economy, a network of remora-like companies that do such things as write software for mobile platforms. These platforms offer American app developers relatively unfettered access to a global market of smartphone users—and at the same time open up competition from cheaper developers abroad. A critical question, then, is whether American developers can expand globally faster than apps made in other countries poach customers on their home soil.

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