Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Many Mobile Apps are Produced by African-Americans?

Kai Dupé
Article by Kai Dupé, Cross-posted from Atlanta Post

There are over 425,000 mobile apps available on Apple’s App Store for the iPhone. The Android Marketplace now has well over 30,000 apps for their devices. According to the website TechCrunch, there has been more than 1 Billion downloads from the App Store as of April 2009. Here is a question? How many of these apps are produced by African Americans?

I would venture to guess we are producing very little. Mobile phones are the most ubiquitous way people communicate and interact with information. With more than 5 billions users communicating and interacting on these devices, the lack of African Americans producing mobile apps has to change.

Further, suppose you want to support Black-owned mobile businesses? How would you go about doing that? We need more African Americans creating products in the mobile space, but in order for that to happen we must support those who are doing just that. How do we find them? I am happy to report things are changing.

In the August issue of Black Enterprise, there is a feature about African Americans who are shaking things up in Silicon Valley called Rule Breakers, Risk Takers: The New Faces of Silicon Valley. This is a very inspiring read and I highly recommend the article. Also, not only is there now an online market for applications for the undiscovered and undeveloped, Inky-Apps, but brothers and sisters are also fully engaged in developing applications for the mobile platform.

Inky-Apps is one of Americas first web stores dedicated to the promotion, advertisement, and development of mobile applications for the undeveloped and undiscovered mobile markets. The site was founded by Richard Fields. Fields is a long time Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years of information technology experience in computer networking for the enterprise. He has worked for such companies as Xerox, MCI, LSI Logic, MFS DataNet, Tandem Computers, Compaq Computers and Hewlett Packard.

I have also learned of several apps that have been developed for mobile devices that were developed by African Americans. The first to come to my attention is an application called Multiple Madness, which is a math game that tests how well you know math multiples.

The application was developed by Veda Rogers. When I spoke with Veda a few months ago, she revealed that she made the decision early in the development process to keep the app simple. It only took her 3 months to develop the application working part-time in the evenings and on weekends.

Then there is Celly. Celly can be used on any cell phone. I am currently evaluating it on my iPhone 3Gs (I am awaiting the release of the iPhone 5). Celly creates mini social networks called cells that connect you with people and topics that matter most to you. A cell can contain anybody with a cell phone, people from your existing social networks, or any web feed.

The app lets you define filters based on hashtags, location, time, and user identity so you can eliminate noise and get alerted only when relevant messages occur. The potential for this application is huge for schools. The beauty of Celly is that you do not need a Smartphone. Any phone that allows text messaging will work fine.

Finally, there is the Sankofa Solar app, which is more informational in nature. The ability to access information on the go, particularly information that is relevant to the African American community is certainly important and at the present time very unique.

Sankofa Solar provides solar technology innovations from the Black community and the solar industry. This is a free app and you can learn more about it and install the application by visiting the Android MarketPlace and searching on “Sankofa Solar”.

There is simply too much opportunity here and we as African Americans need to make sure that we get our share of this mobile app pie. I received my blessing from Apple this week to provision my creations to the App Store. I intend to do just that. I have two ideas that I will submit before the end of the year. What are you going to do?

Kai Dupé is a doctoral student at Pepperdine University where he is conducting research on Why African American Males Are Underrepresented in Computing. Kai can be reached by email at or by visiting his website at or follow him on twitter @KaiDupe

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