The Region: Sofware Industry Predictions for 2010: iPhone General-Purpose Applications

Our Microsoft RD lead Kevin Schuler has asked us to post predictions for 2010 that will appear in a special edition of TheRegion. (Check out for any interesting blog if you haven't already). Here's mine:

Against all perceived wisdom, I suspect that the interest in developing general applications for the iPhone store will peak this year, unless Apple comes out with a more innovative platform. At present, Apple have completely won the mindshare in relation to phone applications, not just the hardware game. All major websites I deal with are starting to create iPhone friendly versions. Early on, we heard amazing stories of how developers had made a fortune through the appstore. I see a few problems becoming more apparent this year:

1. The price of applications. Even super-sophisticated applications are considered over-priced now at $8. While there's some truth that it's "just a numbers game", it's getting much harder to justify the effort required to build the next generation of apps as the price drops lower and lower.

2. Political control of the appstore. Having a developer story that says that you can spend six months building an app, make it beautiful and functional and then at a whim Apple could decide to not let you sell it, and you have no other way to sell it, isn't a good story. That's particularly the case when the reasons might seem unreasonable to you eg: not competing with built-in functionality or not providing a service that their "partners" already provide.

3. Most serious applications being built now seem to be front-ends for standard business sites. There's nothing wrong with that but it's the interest in building general purpose applications that I'm suggesting will peak.

4. You can't find things in the appstore any more. The beauty of the appstore has become it's ugly side too. How do you efficiently find apps that are worthwhile amongst the load of rubbish that's in there. And the volume is increasing daily.

What do you think will happen in the software industry this year?

2 thoughts on “The Region: Sofware Industry Predictions for 2010: iPhone General-Purpose Applications”

  1. Hmm… my $0.02 worth on what could happen in the Microsoft Enterprise Applications milieu:
    Enterprise Data Integration is going to grow up this year.  Not so much in the tools required to move data from one system to another… I'm talking catalogs of enterprise data events and transformations, and ORM tools that focus more on interface generation/implementation than on class-to-storage mappings.  This is going to have deep impacts on the data warehousing side of the industry and enterprise application development.  With this kind of tooling the "Code Reuse Fantasy" finally become the "Code Reuse Paradise" for the first time.
    Much of this will be enabled by the Model Driven Architecture tooling in VSTS 2010, and concepts such as the IObservable/IObserver patterns implemented via the Rx Framework.
    The other big trend I see is that XAML-based UI will really take off in the enterprise space.  Users will be downloading rich vector-graphics capable UIs from the net, and will start expecting to see this kind of thing in their workspace as well.  With out-of-browser Silverlight apps now a reality, and click-once WPF apps certainly achievable, I think there may be a move away from ASP.NET behind the corporate firewall as the cost/complexity of harmonizing complex AJAX forms really starts to hit home.  
    In the meantime, the Ribbon concept is going to gain traction in what's left of the WinForms world, and a lot of UIs will be simplified significantly.
    Finally… I think Feed Integration/Aggregation is going to be the killer app in enterprise IT – especially in the context of workflow driven applications.  SharePoint, CRM and other tools make it simple to generate an RSS feed of articles that could conceivably wrap serialized Workflow Foundation objects as enclosures.  A lot of the plumbing required to deliver workflow items to end-users will be drastically simplified by this paradigm shift.  This is all stuff that's possible today… but it's not getting done in huge volumes yet.  I think 2010 is the year that's going to change.

  2. I think that end user built models will drive development.  The end user tools in MS Office are now so sophisticated that they can be built to perform complex functions with a minimum of effort.  
    When integrated with the multiple frameworks available to enterprises, discovery with a blend of curiosity will see many more unskilled developments arise to fill needs, as small business also has to compete in the same spaces as the corporations.
    There are a plethora of materials to wade through on the net and in books, but if you have the patience you can learn enough to get going.
    I see many changes to the way training is delivered, and to those who involve themselves in some kind of design work.

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