ElephantIt’s that time again – time to peer into the crystal ball and try to spot the changes and trends that will impact how developers become startup founders in 2011. Here’s the first of a series of posts on what I think will change in 2011: what do you see changing?
The brave new software frontier: The App Store.
We’ve all seen first Apple, then Google, build entire software economies of literally hundreds of thousands of apps for their mobile platforms. In 2011, expect more of the same, with tablets coming into their own.
Apps are not “real programs” scaled down; they are a whole new kind of software being adopted at Internet speed. It’s a safe bet that by December 2011 there will be over half a million apps for iOS, something like 300 to 400 thousand for apps for Android, and that even Microsoft will have a more than respectable number of apps for its Windows Phone 7 platform.
And it’s a safe bet that the big three will be pushing, cajoling and evangelizing their respective developer communities to get with the program and start cranking out Apps for the desktop too. Apple has so far paid out to iApp vendors nearly one billion dollars – and made for itself a good $300 million of almost pure profit. This little fact has not escaped the attention of every other company that can lay claim to a platform.
The market pressure for apps not applications at the desktop level is going to profoundly change the game in favor of the micro software company at the expense of established software companies and their well-defined market segments. The pressure is two-fold: Why should customers pay hundreds of dollars for software just because it runs on a bigger-screen computer, and why can’t desktop apps be as simple and idiot proof as mobile apps?
Micro software companies – everything from one developer with a day job up to 10-15 person startups – are going to swarm over the Adobe’s of this world like fire ants climbing an elephant’s leg. It will not be pretty – unless you happen to be one of those micro software companies.
(An aside – don’t waste time on the naysayers who said no one is going to make money selling mobile software, or that no one is interested in buying a tablet computer when they already have a desktop and a phone. They were wrong in 2009, wrong in 2010 and they will continue to get it wrong.)
Creative Commons License photo credit: digitalART2

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this post. It’s certainly an inspiring time to be an independent software developer. It seems like the software business has caught up with the innovations in the music business, which enable new acts to sell their work alongside long established players. What’s interesting in apps is that we’ve seen many more newcomers seize control of the charts, because the apps market simply didn’t exist before. There was a vacuum and the most agile players filled it most quickly, and that’s tended to be smaller companies. Here’s to another year of opportunities and surprises!

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