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Meet the Utah app developers Apple calls 'inspiring'

First Published      Last Updated Jul 13 2015 10:09 am


Technology » Launch of App Store in 2008 created “Cinderella stories.”

Brigham Young University student Garrett Gee started working on his brainchild as a freshman. He sold it three years later for the equivalent of a king's ransom.

Speech therapist Heidi Hanks saw vast potential the first time she used an iPod. The Mapleton resident now helps language-challenged kids and their families around the world.

Designer Joe Wilson and his friends went from coding after hours in a Provo basement to being top global providers of geospatial software for mobile users.

All are Utah success stories held up by Apple Inc. as the worldwide technology company valued at $775 billion marks six years since the launch of its digital distribution platform for mobile-device applications, known as the App Store.




"There are so many amazing examples of creativity coming out of Utah," Apple said in a statement.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company called app developers in the Beehive State "inspiring" and said their many accomplishments illustrated the power of the App Store platform.

By offering equal access to a global audience of potential customers, the store "democratized content distribution," Apple said, "whether you're a large corporation, or one person with a great idea."

Big business • All those useful — and sometimes distracting­ — electronic doodads on all those millions of iPhones, iPads and iPods are, of course, generating huge revenues.

What Apple calls "the iOS ecosystem" — referring to a worldwide community using its ubiquitous device operating system —­­ has created 627,000 jobs and generated $8 billion in cash for U.S.-based app developers, the company said. Apple also cited recent studies projecting the economic impact of app development will top $150 billion worldwide by 2018.

And while an exact count of how many of Utah's more than 5,000 technology companies are centered on mobile apps is hard to come by, several clues indicate it is a significant and growing segment.

Market research firm Evans Data Corporation estimates that half of the world's 19 million software developers are focusing on mobile apps, for both iOS and Android devices.

More than three of every four firms making mobile apps these days are based outside California's Silicon Valley, according to the App Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group.

Early birds • Utahns have a well-documented propensity for adopting new technologies of all kinds early, compared to residents of other states. Examples of this abound in the Apple programming world.

Matt Stoker was part of a University of Utah student group formed in 2007 to investigate coding for iOS — before the App Store was even launched.

Now an adjunct professor at the U.'s School of Computing, Stoker taught one of the first official classes in the country devoted to iOS. He estimated that more than 500 students have gone through the program, many of whom used it to develop their own apps as class projects.

Stoker said the ease of use of Apple programming tools, known as software development kits, or SDKs, also helps explain the platform's rapid adoption among developers.

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