General

There’s little doubt that Apple will make a big splash tomorrow at the Yerba Center. But the bigger story is Apple’s announcement that its mobile operating system has “created or supported” a remarkable 210,000 U.S. jobs.

Let’s put that number in perspective: the iPhone and iPad didn’t even exist five years ago. The company’s mobile App Store only opened its cyber-doors in 2008. 

Now, the iOS alone sustains more jobs than the entire population of San Bernadino. Or Boise. Or Des Moines.

This is a modern economic success that’s virtually unparalleled — and it’s also not just an Apple success. Sure, Apple has been at the forefront. The company also just marked the 25 billionth download from its App Store. (If you’re interested, it was a user in Qingdao, China who downloaded the Disney game, “Where’s My Water.”)

But globally, according to a report last fall, Android has overtaken Apple in total app downloads.

As FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said earlier this year, “Our apps economy is the envy of the world.”  (For the record, Genachowski’s favorite app is an astronomy app that uses his iPhone’s built-in GPS to present a screen view of the stars overhead.  He says it helps his daughter understand astronomy.)

So what’s the problem? As a recent five-part series on CNN reported, this country is running dangerously low on making airwaves available to handle all this wireless data.  That threatens a future of slower progress and higher phone bills.

Genachowski himself said earlier this year, “This invisible infrastructure is the backbone of a growing percentage of our economy and our lives. [A lack of available airwaves] threatens American leadership in mobile and the benefits it can deliver to our economy and our lives.”

In an effort to address the looming spectrum crunch, last month, President Obama signed a bipartisan bill into law designed, in part, to facilitate the next round of wireless auctions.

This law is an important step. Not only does it mandate much needed spectrum auctions—the last one was held in 2008—but it also legislates against too much regulatory red tape. Open auctions will ensure that the companies with the best plans and best service will thrive.

Historically, the Commission hasn’t always heeded this and on the government’s coffers have paid the price.

This obviously is no time for regulatory experiments. The stakes are too high.