App Store revolutionized the tech world when it opened
in summer 2008, spawning a billion-dollar industry in
one fell swoop. It was neither the first nor the largest
back then, but the store quickly exploded in popularity,
prompting Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to say "it is
going to be very hard for others to catch up."
store was one of the big stars this week at Apple’s
annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco,
with CEO Tim Cook’s announcement that it had recently
"passed a major milestone, with 100 billion app
downloads" since the store opened its virtual
in the app-developer fold say the business, thanks to
the marketplace created by the App Store and other
outlets like Google Play, is still in its infancy and
mobile apps in the next few years will continue to
change human behavior in unimaginable ways.
the "Internet of Things," where apps will help
connect an estimated 50 billion devices to the Internet
by 2020 and transform the way we relate to our homes and
workplaces, to the continued democratization of
software, where tech novices will be able to build their
own apps, the digital landscape will shift at a
the same time, the way apps come into being could also
go through a seismic shift. The small independent
app-makers who early on helped make the App Store the
success it is today will find it harder to survive
there, while large corporations will dominate the stage
as their in-house coders custom-tailor more and more
apps to meet their customers’ needs.
seeing big companies taking over" the mobile-app
industry, said Mark Wilcox, a business analyst with
VisionMobile. As a result, according to the firm’s
recent survey, nearly half of the developers who want to
make money building apps actually make zero or next to
nothing. "Large companies, and especially game
publishers, take all the top spots on the App Store and
most of the revenue," he said. "The little
guys are struggling to compete."
the momentum "absolutely staggering," Cook
told developers this week that the App Store has forever
changed the way we think of software and the way we all
increasingly use it in our daily lives.
everyday objects, from home-heating systems to toasters,
will continue to be a major focus for developers, with
one survey showing that 53 percent of respondents said
they were already working on so-called IoT — or
"Internet of Things" — apps. Wearable tech,
like the new Apple Watch, could host thousands of new
apps this year alone, from health and fitness monitors
to tools not yet envisioned.
a clear nod to the future of apps already unfolding on
wearable technology, Cook used his keynote address to
introduce Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president for
technology, to talk about watchOS 2, the first major
update for the Apple Watch since it was unveiled last
September. Lynch said developers could soon use the new
software to build native, or in-watch, apps that would
allow users to tap directly into the watch’s
burgeoning bounty without having to rely on their
iPhones for access.
budding trend features strategically placed beacons,
small devices in the physical world that interact with
apps, which in turn will collect and process mountains
of data. An in-app sale offer triggered on your phone by
a beacon inside the Wal-Mart you just entered is an
example of this technology. Over time, all that data
collected from our phones about our daily patterns will
then guide and improve the software we’ll use to work
‘Internet of Things’ is happening quickly,"
said 22-year-old Ashu Desai, whose Make School is
teaching college and high-school students how to build
apps. "We’ll see apps where your phone will know
more and more about your surroundings. There will be a
massive proliferation of sensors that will be everywhere
so apps can send you the temperature of your hot tub,
lock and unlock your doors, and turn on your stove
a way, the future of apps is already here, with an
increasing number of them not on public view at the App
Store but quietly being harnessed by teams within
private companies and organizations, from giants like
Salesforce to stage crews at musical venues to small
enterprises like contractors and electricians.
Richard Carlton helps companies use programs like
Apple-owned FileMaker to create their own proprietary
apps that allow colleagues to collaborate on a shared
database they can all access from their mobile devices.
mobile tools allow people who aren’t coders to build
their own solutions and share them with their fellow
employees," he said. "For example, we’ve
helped plumbers create apps they can use to update their
work schedules on their phones. This software lets you
sign contracts in the field, take photos and enter them
in a database, or do property inspections. And this
costs the company a quarter of what they’d pay to have
a professional app developer do it."
other trends in the coming year, there will be more
video ads playing on our smartphone screens, more
crowdfunding to launch app startups and more developers
leaving Google and Apple to become consultants who’ll
build apps for corporate clients like The Home Depot.
company out there is turning to mobile, whether it’s
retail or airlines or real estate," said Shravan
Goli, president of the tech-jobs site Dice.com. With big
companies storming into the market, the coming years
will be tough for the independents, said Craig
Hockenberry with app-design firm The Icon Factory.
people who want to survive solely off the puzzle game or
the camera app are the ones having a problem right
now," he said. "When the App Store opened, our
first app sold well because there wasn’t a lot of
competition. We were a big fish in a small pond. Now the
pond is more like an ocean."
the future of apps?
asked five attendees at Apple’s annual Worldwide
Developers Conference this week in San Francisco for
their take on what’s ahead.
app developer, Boston
see a broader use of apps in schools, supporting
teachers and giving kids more engaging ways to learn
math and science."
your business will develop around your (enterprise) app.
If you’re not taking advantage of that, you’re
will be smarter and they’ll distract the user less.
Their functions will be more personalized and
personalized more precisely."
product manager, Sydney
future of apps is all about experiential, the actual
experience of being human. Wearable health and fitness
devices, for example, will provide personal analytics,
with more layering of information from both humans and
will become part of every aspect of our lives, with
virtual-reality apps more prevalent. With an app and a
pair of VR glasses, you’ll be able to virtually tour a
property for sale, museums or vacation
Mercury News reporting