Mobile App Development: What It Can Accomplish

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Mobile app development is gaining popularity as skilled pros help the world run more smoothly. Learn what it takes to develop the next app that changes the way we live.

[Featured Image] A man and woman map out a mobile app design on a whiteboard.

Today there are 8.9 million mobile apps, and the list is growing fast [1]. It’s hard to imagine, but just fifteen years ago, there was no such a thing as an App Store [2]. Mobile app development has seen extraordinary growth as a subsection of the vast tech industry.

As the world’s population has come to rely on smartphones to help complete almost any task, the sky is the limit with respect to applications. Whether a user is interested in finding love, testing a recipe, translating a phrase, balancing their checkbook, or one of a million other tasks, there’s an app for that.

Apps, Apps, and More Apps

The average person has forty apps on their phone, and current estimates count fifteen billion phones in use as of 2021 [3,4]. App-lovers spent $143 billion in app stores worldwide in 2020 alone.

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The consumer demand is only rising for more information, services, products, and experiences to be readily available at arm's length—and so is the need for educated, trained, and tech-savvy professionals ready to lead mobile app development projects. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the expectation is for tech jobs to grow much faster than average, with an estimated 409,500 new jobs needed between 2020 and 2030 [5].

All it takes is the proper training to bring a mobile app from the idea stage to launch. With skills, the results can be extremely impressive.

The best mobile apps can meet the needs of a targeted audience so that the launch can cut through the noise of all the other ideas in the marketplace. Noteworthy apps can prove their value in a way that also makes them a pleasure to use.

Recognizing that tech professionals are behind the work proves that this kind of success is within reach of anyone interested in learning the steps to make it happen.

These Mobile Apps Create Solutions

Most people have a phone filled with their favorite apps. Some are so universal that it is easy to forget they were created and maintained by human developers who use their creativity for the benefit of literally millions of users. Take a look at some examples of noteworthy apps: 

Facebook

There were 2.74 billion active users of Facebook as of September 2021, with almost that many (2.54 billion) checking in daily [6]. Judging by the number of people who interact online with their friends via the site, many are scrolling through this extremely popular social media platform. 

Mobile app development as an industry grew along a similar timeline as the company, with Facebook purchasing the equally successful Instagram in 2012. Social media has become more sophisticated over the years; it’s hard to imagine MySpace with an app. But the fact that app developers created an intuitive and lucrative mobile platform allowed the company to propel forward into its latest incarnation, Meta.

YouTube

Born from an interest in seeing the infamous “wardrobe malfunction ” between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the 2004 Super Bowl game, YouTube capitalized on curiosity and the ability to write code. YouTube is a social platform that allows users to share their videos on everything from home movies to DIY to music to yoga. 

Today, YouTube is considered the second-largest search engine after Google. Users watch five billion videos every day, and seventy percent of those are on mobile smart devices [7]. It’s inspiring for its success as well as its simple concept.  

Angry Birds

Released as an iOS app in 2009, Angry Birds is now a franchise that stretches well beyond its humble Finnish beginnings. What may at first seem like a silly game has turned its company, Rovio Entertainment Corporation, into a thriving success with more than four and a half billion downloads [8].

From the addictive, puzzle-style app came a movie, a line of plush toys, cartoons, television shows, films, and even its own cookbook. 

Google Maps

Since drivers first took to the roads and began to journey away from home, there has been a need to have a map handy to find their destination. The days of unfolding and folding a collection of glove box maps are gone. Today, anyone with a smartphone can have a map in their pocket. Google Maps met this need by launching its mobile app in 2007 for Blackberry and Palm devices. In 2008, it was available for Android phones and in 2012 as an iOS app [9].

Of course, this app is much more than an overview of street grids and highways. Today, Google Maps provides real-time traffic information as well as a platform for user reviews and listings for businesses around the world. Spoken navigation was truly revolutionary—and it will be interesting to see the next innovation that’s added to the app.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Birds are nice, but Fortnite’s fighting game has become one of the most popular mobile gaming apps worldwide. Since becoming available on iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch, it set records on the app site Akamai in terms of traffic. It brought in more than $5.1 billion in revenue in 2020 alone [10].

Likely, many of the 350 million Fortnite players who love gaming often wonder about ways to get paid to make money with them [10]. A career in mobile app development can make it happen. 

Revolut

Financial technology has become as popular as globalization, and fintech companies are at the helm. One problem that global citizens often face is the ability to move currency—to get paid for work or pay for services—in modern ways. The app Revolut has worked to solve that problem, and as a result, its founder is worth more than $7 billion [11].

The idea to provide a global financial app for people to manage their funds through a single platform anywhere on the planet was a disruptive concept for the financial industry. These breakthrough ideas are built by tech pros skilled at taking them and making them a reality. 

Noom

If people aren’t worried about their bottom line, they may be concerned about their midsections. Noom is a weight-loss app that launched in 2017 [12]. It is different from other food-tracker apps in that Noom focuses more on helping users change their behaviors and attitudes surrounding food. As a result, it can encompass many different audiences within the health industry.

As the stay-at-home mandates of the pandemic resulted in weight gain for many, the demand for Noom surged in 2020. Downloads and subscriptions brought in $400 million in revenue and helped thousands of people get healthier, too.

Zoom

If you didn’t use the Zoom app before the coronavirus pandemic, you most likely did afterward. The company counted more than 300 million daily meeting participants in April 2020. The app itself was downloaded 485 million times in 2020 [13[.

The explosive growth proved that hard work and creativity could fill a need exactly when people demand it the most. With 485 percent growth in customers from October 2019 to October 2020, the mobile app brought in over one billion dollars in just one quarter of 2021 [14].  

Five traits of a successful mobile app

Mobile app developers don’t just set out to make an app that will be popular and lucrative, although that’s a motivator for some. Instead, the most successful apps usually result from creative ideas that find innovative solutions to common problems. Five traits of a successful app are:

1. An ability to meet the needs of a targeted audience

2. Doing something that hasn’t been done before or doing it in a different way

3. Available on both iOS and Android

4. Easy to navigate and use without too much struggle

5. Functions as well as it looks

Learn how to make your own mobile app

While technology is constantly changing, there are software and tools that mobile app developers will need to master to succeed in the industry. Some of the more popular programs in 2021 included:

  • React Native

  • Xamarin

  • Appcelerator

  • Sencha

  • AppInstitute

Prospective employers won’t necessarily take a candidate’s word of their aptitude. Instead, it’s crucial to create a portfolio of work to demonstrate a command of the programming languages needed to create the mobile app. This takes initiative, so new app developers can investigate popular niches like travel, finance, or productivity to create a tool for a growing portfolio.  

Tech developers can also learn the necessary skills and apply their knowledge to a wide range of ideas that come from budding entrepreneurs in need of expert assistance. Graphic design, UX and UI, coding, and automation are skills to add to a competitive resume. 

Benefits of mobile app development

Many companies don’t need convincing that mobile app development will dramatically enhance the reach of their service or products. By leveraging the latest technology, businesses can improve efficiency, especially concerning customer service. Apps can be secure and scalable, collecting big data and using algorithms and artificial intelligence to help decision-makers maximize their investments.

For those who are looking to get into this tech field, the benefits are apparent as well. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average yearly pay for a developer is $110,140 a year, or $52.95 an hour [15]. This job can be done remotely, meaning it’s possible to live almost anywhere in the world and enjoy the benefits of this growing industry.

Degrees

Most mobile app developers have a bachelor’s degree, usually in computer and information technology, or perhaps engineering or mathematics [15]. From there, students can choose to gain experience through internships at large companies.

Conversely, you can simply branch off and work as a freelancer. If this is the goal, creating a portfolio of work—apps of all kinds—will make it easier to land projects.

Certificates and Courses

There’s much to learn to master mobile app development, and technology changes and improves all the time. On Coursera, you can find hundreds of courses and guided classes in Specializations in mobile apps. It’s possible to earn a Google UX Design Professional Certificate, gain a Specialization in iOS Development for Creative Entrepreneurs, and master Data Structures and Algorithms.  

Get started today by browsing the offerings on Coursera to gain the skills needed to meet tomorrow’s needs today.

Related articles

Article sources

1. Forbes. “There Are Now 8.9 Million Mobile Apps, and China Is 40% of Mobile App Spending. https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/02/28/there-are-now-89-million-mobile-apps-and-china-is-40-of-mobile-app-spending/?sh=609b589721dd." Accessed February 1, 2022.

2. Business Insider, Ben. “It's Been over 12 Years since the IPhone Debuted - Look How Primitive the First One Seems Today. https://www.businessinsider.com/first-phone-anniversary-2016-12."  Accessed February 1, 2022.

3. TechJury. “55+ App Usage Statistics and Trends for 2022 [Infographic].”  https://techjury.net/blog/app-usage-statistics/." Accessed February 1, 2022.

4. Statista. “Number of Mobile Devices Worldwide 2020-2025. https://www.statista.com/statistics/245501/multiple-mobile-device-ownership-worldwide/." Accessed February 1, 2022.

5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers : Occupational Outlook Handbook. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm." Accessed February 1, 2022.

6. Facebook. “Insights to Go from Facebook IQ. https://www.facebook.com/iq/insights-to-go/tags/facebook." Accessed February 1, 2022.

7. GMI. “YouTube User Statistics 2022: Global Media Insight. https://www.globalmediainsight.com/blog/youtube-users-statistics/." Accessed February 1, 2022.

8. Rovio.com. “Angry Birds: 10 Years. https://www.angrybirds.com/10-years/."  Accessed February 1, 2022.

9. Google. “A Look Back at 15 Years of Mapping the World. https://blog.google/products/maps/look-back-15-years-mapping-world/." Accessed February 1, 2022.

10. Business of Apps. “Fortnite Usage and Revenue Statistics (2022).”  https://www.businessofapps.com/data/fortnite-statistics/." Accessed February 1, 2022.

11. Forbes. “As Revolut Becomes U.K.'s Most Valuable Fintech, Its Founder Is Now Worth $7 Billion. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddawkins/2021/07/15/founder-nik-storonskys-net-worth-more-than-quintuples-after-revolut-becomes-uks-most-valuable-fintech/?sh=7f011da368d5." Accessed February 1, 2022.

12. TechCrunch. “Weight-Loss Platform Noom Bulks up. https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/25/weight-loss-platform-noom-bulks-up-on-540-million-in-new-funding/." Accessed February 1, 2022.

13. Backlinko: “Zoom User Stats: How Many People Use Zoom in 2022?.  https://backlinko.com/zoom-users." Accessed February 1, 2022.

14. Zoom. “Zoom Reports Financial Results for the Third Quarter of Fiscal Year 2022. https://investors.zoom.us/news-releases/news-release-details/zoom-reports-financial-results-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2022." Accessed February 1, 2022.

15. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers : Occupational Outlook Handbook. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm." Accessed February 1, 2022.

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