It’s all about the Apps, it’s all about the Apps (and the Data)

Which contributed most to the success of the iPhone: the iPhone hardware and iOS or the creation of the Apple App Store?

The iPhone hardware and operating system brought something new into a market that desperately needed disrupting. Had it stayed as a phone and messaging device, which is what the operating system gave you, it would have been reasonably successful (in part because of the Apple badge). What promoted the iPhone into a league of its own was the explosion of applications that you could run on it, facilitated by the Apple App Store.

By Graham Chastney, Principal Solution Architect

It’s worth remembering that when the Apple App Store was launched in 2008 people normally got their applications on a CD. The iPhone wasn’t even the first platform to have application – Windows Mobile had 18,000 apps and Palm had 30,000 apps. What made it different was the integration of the App Store into the overall experience; an experience that included the application developers.

Today the Apple App Store contains over 1.5 million applications, the Google Play Store has 1.6 million; together they have had over 150 billion application downloads. In 2014 mobile apps were an $8.3 billion worldwide business.

It’s difficult to say how many Windows applications there are because of the various ways in which they can be delivered into the environment. Many organisations have at least one application that they’ve developed for their specific requirements.

The iPhone hardware and iOS disrupted the handset market.

The Apple App Store created a whole new market that, in turn, accelerated the success of the iPhone.

The App World Has Change

In the years since the launch of the iPhone and the subsequent emergence of Android the starting point for applications developers has switched from Windows to either Android or iOS and preferably both. The largest App Store is now the Google Play Store, it publishes work from over 400,000 different developers. You’re highly unlikely to write a Windows only application anymore.

Why do you have a smart-phone? Why do you have a laptop? Why will you get a smart-watch or other wearable device? The simplest answer is to get things done, but how do we get things done, we do them through applications. We may prefer the interface of one device over another, we may prefer the feel of one device over another, but without the applications that allow us to get things done we wouldn’t be using the device.

Back in 2008 the portfolio of applications that people used for work was primarily governed by the applications that the corporate IT organization was willing to give them. Applications were expensive and they were expensive to deliver to people. They were also expensive to train people on. In 2015 the portfolio of applications has shifted, some of them are still provisioned by the corporate IT organisations, but many more are self-selected by teams or individuals. Look at Slack which grow 33X in just 12 months. Evernote’s popularity has been driven by personal preference. Even those applications that the corporate IT organization provide are likely to be SaaS based and delivered as a combination of browser interface and mobile app (Concur).

Building Connections Between Destinations

As a person whose heritage is in infrastructure I constantly remind myself that my job is to facilitate the delivery of the applications – it’s all about the Apps.

To use a metaphor, my job is to build roads (infrastructure) in the right place to enable people to get between destinations (apps). While the roads are interesting, they aren’t the destination. Furthermore, we used to try and make people travel down the one road we had built, but they now also have the option to fly or go by rail. As a result, increasingly our role is to help people find destinations and to facilitate their travel to that destination.

(and the Data)

The changes in the app world has precipitated a change in where data is stored and how it is handled. There was a time when organisations stored all of their data on a mainframe, then data was distributed out to PCs that the organization owned, now data is stored in a variety of different stores – devices, SaaS capabilities, in-house applications, cloud file storage, in-house file storage. Most organisations didn’t know what data they had in the distributed world, in the cloud world they know even less – all of that data in Evernote is stored on Evernote’s servers and most organisations don’t know it’s there. As data defines the crown jewels of many organization the management of that data is a problem and an opportunity that is going to see significant development in the coming years. Previous attempts at information management have largely been expensive and of limited value, but I think that’s a topic for another day.


Graham ChastneyGraham Chastney is a Technologist in CSC’s Global Infrastructure Services. He has worked in the arena of workplace technology for over 25 years, starting as a sysprog supporting IBM DISOSS and DEC All-in-1. Latterly Graham has been working with CSC’s customers to help them understand how they exploit the changing world of workplace technology. Graham lives with his family in the United Kingdom.

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