Mobile App Industry Reacts to Trump Presidency

November 14, 2016 - 3 minutes read

Reactions from the tech sector have been particularly charged since the final votes were tallied in this year’s presidential election. While Trump’s campaign platform made promises that worried most tech leaders, others hoped that laxer regulations under a Republican administration could hold equally large opportunities for iOS app developers, particularly those in the financial sector and controversial “sharing economy.”

Two of the biggest developments have been a dramatic rise in subscriptions for end-to-end encryption services and the appointment of venture capitalist Peter Thiel to Trump’s transition team. Both point to the controversial attitudes towards what a power change means for tech companies.

Thiel’s $1.25 million donation to Trump’s campaign made it no surprise that he’d have a hand in the transition, but many in tech are still angered by the famous startup billionaire’s associations with the GOP. Associations with Facebook and Y Combinator have been strained, but not broken, although several San Francisco iPhone app developers have opted to cut ties with the startup accelerator over differences of politics.

As for encryption, startups like Protonmail that offer encrypted email and messaging have doubled in the days after the election, amid popular public pressure on data-collecting tech giants like Google and Facebook to limit their use and storage of personal data in fear that it could become part of the data funnel for a newly-emboldened NSA.

Whether or not those fears turn out to be well-founded, iPhone app developers have made it clear that they see huge implications on the tech sector for this election — regardless of which party ultimately took the White House. Clinton’s tech policy was lined out in detail during the race, and while many pointed out it was unlikely she would follow it to a “T”, the Trump campaign has yet to make a clear statement on how it’ll approach the sector. (Blistering anti-tech industry tweets aside.) This could be a blessing in disguise, since it leaves a lot of wiggle room for the decidedly pro-tech-and-innovation Thiel to have a big effect on how that policy turns out during the transition.

The best app developers can do at this point is wait, hope, and be prepared to pivot under dramatic legal changes in the US.

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