What caused the app explosion?

There have been pieces of software for sale FOREVER, cavemen and women would download trial versions of software to try. :smiley:

But now all of a sudden with the appearance of the Ipod Touch, Ipad, and Android platforms it seems everyone likes to talk about buying apps and there are approximately 40 trillion apps for sale. :confused: I am like so what? Whats the big fucking deal, you guys could have been buying apps twenty years ago? Is it the phone or pad that makes the difference?

The app store.

there’s an app for that

Sorry, grude, but you seriously post a lot of stupid questions. You don’t even need Google.com to tell you the answer that you already told us.

grude, do you have a smartphone?

Ahem the point IS that the ability to sell and buy software has been around for fricking ever, but all of a sudden just because it is on a phone or pad everyone has a hard on for it. You could always buy software, but for some reason the customers weren’t crazy on the idea. But Apple creates the app store and all of a sudden it is the latest craze, but why?

It is like a food court opens that sells “cuppas” of food for $1 each and the food sellers have to go through a front end, the idea is a hit and suddenly others are copying it and businesses are springing up and customers are raving and wild about the idea of OMG buying food! What cuppas did you get today? I got sushi and curried fish! Its amazing, why didn’t someone think of this sooner?


The differences between apps made for mobile platforms, and the PC applications that preceded them, are many.

Old school applications are/were useful for the kind of things you would generally do at home or at the office. Mobile apps are useful for lots of other, more personal things you want/need on-the-go. Due to the portable nature of mobile phones and tablets, apps can be designed to serve functions that were either not previously possible, or else were just not as practical, convenient, or feature-rich. It’s also the always-on, network connected nature that makes today’s apps a game changer.

All of the following is MHO but…
It’s really an interesting history (I’m speaking form a PC perspective here)…

Long ago (before windows) there were a ton of programs written by individuals and small groups of people that ran in some version of DOS and could be had for a few bucks. There were bargain bins of floppies in almost every computer store and you could usually find a neat little program that would meet at least ½ your needs.

Then Windows took off and the intricacies that were involved with programming for a complicated GUI interface pushed a lot of development out of business. Writing commercially viable programs became MUCH more difficult for small teams. Compared to writing something for DOS, Windows was a whole new game.

Until recently you really had to know what you were doing. But now it seems the development environments are catching up to the OS. Now you see independent, small groups and even individuals using SDK environments to produce some really cool stuff. Microsoft even gives away for free a lite version of its mobile development environment to promote app development.

Couple that with the instant gratification distribution system of portable devices and it’s once again economically viable for small, simple, non-critical apps to exist.

ETA - I sould have included the points voltaire made. An app for a mobile device is a completely different beast than something like a word processor.

Because prior to then, a single entity for publishing, purchasing and delivering general purpose software did not exist. Steam did, but that’s specific to games.

I hope it is MHO, because that is why I posted this in IMHO :slight_smile:

Hmm I came in long after the DOS days were over, I’d heard about the abundance of cheap software on floppy but assumed that it was only because most people had no internet access(distribution). But something I did not consider was the ease of programming, and I do think that could be the missing element to the answer.

I will say that a LOT of the apps I am seeing on the android market are clearly made by non-pros.:stuck_out_tongue:

The difference is that on phones and pads, your SOLE access to software of any kind is apps. This is primarily because the lack of system resources (and, let’s be honest, somewhat clunky control scheme) prevents multi featured suites from being popular.

Phones and tablets are portable, so people obviously want something to use with their expensive device, thus, apps have taken off because they have essentially a captive audience.

I don’t think the browser based (i.e. Chrome) app market, the PC app market, or even the OS X app market has taken off in quite the same way as it has for phones or tablets because, like I said, there’s actual, substantial software on the platforms so we don’t need to settle for low price minimalist software. And the apps that do sell decently on PC/Mac platforms are the ones that were astonishingly runaway hits on embedded platforms like Angry Birds etc.

The bottom line is yes, the sudden appearance of the iOS and Android platforms is what caused the app explosion.

Much of the explosion is the ease of downloading and the price. You can get some very cool software for less than $5.

You can. Unfortunately, you are left to hunt for pearls in a huge mount of offal. A big majority of apps is written (and published) by amateurs, with predictable results.

Imagine a book store.

Now, imagine you didn’t have to drive to this bookstore to buy a book, because it’s already magically built into your new bookshelf.

And this book store is bigger than Amazon.com.

Now, imagine it’s not only you who has this magical bookshelf, but everybody else does too; millions and millions of people…
Now, imagine, you want to write a book.

This bookstore gives you guidelines and the proper tools for a very small fee, and when you’re done, you just have to place your new book on your shelf, and the bookshelf will whisk it away and instantly distribute it to everyone else’s bookshelves, keeping only 30% of whatever price-tag you decide your book is worth for this huge distribution service. Of course, you get to keep the other 70% per book sold.

It’s instantly now accessible to millions of other bookshelf owners out there, and is on a relatively fair playing field in the bookstore, and millions of books are being sold everyday.

Now, take the word bookshelf, and substitute it with “iPhone.” Take the word “Book” and substitute it with the word “app,” and there you have it.

But you can even skirt that problem these days. Google “best app for (insert need here)” and everybody and their cousin is willing to opine about what is great and what is crap.

Just as information for the discussion, Linux (or at least Ubuntu) also had ‘app stores’ before they became big in mobile platforms. It was a pretty neat thing the first time I tried it, especially since most Linux software is free. Need an image editor? Pop up the software manager and grab GIMP. Need something that adjusts your display in a certain way? Odds are there’s something that’ll do the job.

Really, the app explosion, such as it was, came about primarily due to the higher internet and wireless speeds that made it possible to pop an application into your device without needing to install from physical media. You can literally tap a button and have functionality within a few minutes.