Q: What can developers now do that they could not before?
Until now, a sophisticated and scalable data storage infrastructure like Amazon’s has been beyond the reach of small developers. Amazon S3 enables any developer to leverage Amazon’s own benefits of massive scale with no up-front investment or performance compromises. Developers are now free to innovate knowing that no matter how successful their businesses become, it will be inexpensive and simple to ensure their data is quickly accessible, always available, and secure.
One of the big “secret sauces” to creating a successful Web 2.0 site is building a scalable site. Now, micro-ISVs can build a “lite” Web 2.0 site and transparently (to their customers) store their data via REST or SOAP at Amazon at the rate of 15 cents per GB per month, 20 cents per GB transferred. With no startup costs.
Off the top of my head, let’s take the “micro-ISV photo organizer” app that Joel Spolsky has often and rightly used as a straw man. The world does not need another generic photo organizer. But I bet an web site (ala flickr) where you could upload/tag/access your shots while on vacation, combined with a well-developed desktop app automatically accessing the same [Amazon] data, installed as a .NET ClickOnce app on any pc you need, would succeed. Say goodbye to the Berlin Wall between apps that store data on your pc and those that store your data on some server.
Or, take CRM applications. Take a specific group of people who relate and work with their customers in a very specific way. Add a micro-ISV who understands what those people (called a market) really want in terms of functionality both on the desktop and on the web. Add robust data storage. Equals a micro-ISV offering that salesforce.com look outdated.
What I see here is there is finally a trusted, reliable, cheap way for developers to write apps where data storage and access are a non-issue. A way micro-ISVs can focus on giving their prospective customers their data reliably whether they want that data on their PC or on the web accessable to others. This is very interesting…