MindBullets 20 Years


Smartphones empower millions of small entrepreneurs

Today Gartner revealed that the mobile application industry (or Apps for short) is a global software industry that is worth more than Google.

Obscure and low-key third-party applications on the iPhone started it all. Apps to find and book restaurants in your immediate vicinity, locate friends and more bizarre Apps such as iBeer (see picture) found millions of users at prices ranging from free to a dollar or two.

Of course the emerging phenomenon was pooh-poohed by many pundits – “No one will actually pay for this kind of stuff,” they chortled. Now, Apps have become ‘essential’ components of life and business.

The App industry is essentially a cottage industry that anyone can join. Unlike the world of operating systems and office software it is not dominated by a few global players, but involves millions of small firms and individuals around the world. Anyone with the entrepreneurial know-how to turn a great idea into instant reality can participate – and millions have.

“This is a massive explosion of creativity,” says Wolfgang Grulke of FutureWorld, “and everyone’s invited. Now that almost 80% of the world’s population has mobile connectivity there remain few barriers to participation. In terms of economic access, there are no longer the haves and the have-nots – there are just the haves and the want-nots.”

Even though the financial life of an App can be very short, and revenues small, it seems that there is no shortage of entrepreneurs prepared to risk their time dreaming up new ways to use the electronic ether.

Also, now that all mobile platforms trade on a common App Exchange, no longer dominated by Apple and the iPhone, acceptability seems to have grown.

Gartner estimates that the average age of players in the industry is around 22 and that it still has the ability “to double in the next three years”.

The traditional operating system has effectively been fragmented into a simple Linux trunk sprouting an ever-changing plethora of browser-based Apps. The ‘tree’ analogies are rife. Microsoft is hoping that the seasons will change, and soon.

The rampant App revolution plus Google’s determined thrust to make the browser (rather than the operating system) the preferred application platform has literally painted Microsoft into a strategic corner.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.