It’s easy to take a look at the current state of the economy and think that American business has about the same chances of surviving as a cockroach in an insect trap. But while some businesses may be slowly heading out to pasture, other new, youthful markets have stepped up proudly to take their place. Here are five types of businesses that will be booming in 2013.

mobile app business
photo credit: Daniel Y. Go via photopin cc

1. Mobile apps/gaming

Are you reading this on a mobile device right now? If not, then you’re quickly becoming the minority. Mobile smart technology is an industry that didn’t even exist a decade ago; now, over half of all U.S. cellphone owners use smart devices. That means that there is a rapidly expanding niche for enthusiastic entrepreneurs to fill.

Apps are one aspect of this new market. Where full computer programing can require years of training and education, app creation on the other hand is a bit simpler. At the same time, there is an increasing demand for original apps.

In March, 2012, the Apple App store reached a staggering 25 billion downloads. These aren’t all Facebook and Gmail downloads, either. Third party apps also hold a large share of the market. Even free apps hold major promise, as money can be made from them through advertising and sponsorship.

Gaming is another side of the same coin. Simple, easy-to-learn video games that can be played without investing too much time or effort have effectively changed the face of the video game market. Have you ever heard of the Finnish game developer Rovio Entertainment? Well, they couldn’t care less that you don’t recognize their name, because chances are you’re one of the billion people who’ve played their creation, Angry Birds. Not bad for a company that was started in 2003 by three guys from Helsinki University of Technology.

2. Pet Products

For many Americans, gone are the days when Fido would sleep in a dog house and eat dry kibble for every meal. The American Pet Products Association predicted that pet owners would spend a whopping $52 billion (it might not be possible to type the word billion without using italics) on their four legged friends in 2012. While some of that money goes toward veterinary care and basic necessities, there has been a recent surge in the purchase of pet frivolities.

Pet clothing, toys, special foods, furniture, translators, tattoos, and even cosmetic surgery have all become available to the eccentric owner. Are these products necessary? Of course not. That’s what makes them such good business. An estimated 4.11 billion dollars was spent on such pet-nonessentials in 2012. This is because luxury-spending is an American past time, and you can’t get much more luxurious than giving your neutered dog testicular implants.

3. Online Education

The average four-year college education can cost around $50,000. This used to be a sound investment; after all, you could simply borrow some money, get a diploma, land a high-paying job, and then have enough cash to pay off your loans, buy a nice house, and live the American dream for five or six decades. Things have changed.

As more and more graduates are discovering, a college education doesn’t guarantee a lucrative career. As a second option, many young scholars are turning towards less-expensive online education.

The company Coursera was founded to provide free online, college level courses, and netted over a million users in just over four months. In less than a year, it had generated over $22 million in venture capital. The money itself comes from licensing fees paid by educational institutions who want to incorporate these courses into their regular studies. There’s a switch; the universities pay big bucks while the student gets a free ride.

4. Health

The health care industry makes up more than 18% of the American economy. Sometimes it probably feels like that 18% comes straight out of your wallet. In fact, the average U.S. citizen pays more for healthcare in one year than the average Chinese citizen earns in that same amount of time. However, not every person on the receiving end of this cash stream holds a Ph.D. in medicine.

Again, the digital explosion has played a big part in this phenomenon. Digital health technology is a market that is expected to be worth around $5.7 billion by 2015. Likewise, personal health monitor devices are being used at an exponentially expanding rate. While it may not be easy (or ethical) to jump directly into a market that resolves issues of life and death, those that have the expertise and vision are finally discovering technological based ways to improve consumer health.

Businesses like live-in senior aid, and exercise equipment design and production are seeing a staggering increase in demand as well.

5. Home Office

The Internet is everywhere these days. Over 2/3 of American employees uses computers at work. So, the question that a lot of companies are asking themselves is why pay for an office when our people could be doing this from home? And in a rare but welcome change from the norm, workers are in complete agreement. Already, over 13 million Americans work from home. But it takes more than just an internet connection and an alarm clock to be able to get a full eight hours of productivity while at home.

Special mobile apps and devices are being created to give the domestic business person an edge, while still allowing them to sip homemade coffee and hang around in their bathrobes while they work. In fact, making money online from home is so lucrative, that many employees are willing to spend a little extra money on their work spaces.

Home office furniture and decoration are businesses that have continued to grow despite recent economic downturn, so companies that cater to the at-home executive are finding that life from the living room can be pretty sweet.

About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finances. He has received many accolades for his work in teaching and small business consultation.