There’s an App Job for That?

Congrats to the Taos students behind “See Something Save Someone.” The app, designed to prevent youth suicides, was made available for download on Google Play last week. While it’s embroiled in an unfortunate legal controversy “over project roles and rightful ownership,” the app’s value isn’t in doubt — earlier this year, it was one of just eight “Best in Nation” winners of the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

But good news about a home-grown app should never lead to the kind of mindless, “New Mexico is on the technology map” happy talk that often accompanies coverage of STEM anecdotes. The fact is, when it comes to writing software for mobile devices, the state is far behind.

Last week Apple released a lengthy analysis of its employment impact in America, noting that since the launch of its App Store in 2008, “U.S. developers have earned over $16 billion” from selling to customers around the world. The company, using data compiled by the Progressive Policy Institute’s Michael Mandel, listed “jobs attributable to the App Store ecosystem” for each state. Errors of Enchantment ran the numbers, and not surprisingly, New Mexico was hardly a star in our region. Despite the political establishment’s constant touting of local, state, and federal “investment” in tech resources here, the Land of Enchantment ranked at the bottom in app jobs per capita. (See chart above.) Hip and Millennial-dense Colorado landed in the top spot, but note the performance of Utah. There’s nary a federally funded research and development center in the Beehive State, and college attainment is significantly lower than in its neighbor to the east. But Utah scored well, even making it onto Mandel’s list of the 25 states with the most total app jobs. What does it know that New Mexico doesn’t?