App Stores and the Future of Software Development
We all need software. Whether it’s an operating system that runs on your computer such as Windows XP, Windows 7, or Mac OSX, or if it’s a productivity suite such as Microsoft Office, or something fun to use like iTunes, software comes from a variety of companies, and can be purchased from a variety of sources.
I remember when I purchased my first real computer, that I bought with my own money back in 1996. I bought the machine from Milwaukee PC, a local computer retail store near my home in Wisconsin. It was one of the best experiences of my career, being able to purchase my first machine, the smell of the new computer hardware, and the fancy graphics look of the boxes that the software came in. The whole experience gave me a high of excitement, from that point on I was hooked.
The History of the App Store
Back in that day, most software was sold on the shelves of PC shops, and retail stores like Wal-mart, and OfficeMax. Software distribution since the late 1960’s in the era of the mainframe has been very closely guarded, and ‘licensed’ out to people to use it, rather than ‘sold.’ Since that time, software sales and distribution has gotten more and more specialized, and streamlined with the introduction of app stores, or centralized online locations to download, purchase, and install software for individual platforms such as Synaptec with APT on Linux, the iOS app store for iPhone and iPod touch and the Mac App store for Mac OSX applications.The origin of a centralized source of software was originally developed in 1993 by Matt Welsch, when he first wrote a program for the Debian Linux platform called dpkg, originally written in Perl, then later written in C by Ian Murdock. The concept was taken further by the Advanced Packaging Tool or APT which is a method of installing, and delivering software from a variety of servers. Back then all distribution was done via a command line, which is commonly used on most Linux servers today. In 2003 the concept became more mainstream when Synaptic, a GUI front end for APT was developed by Alfredo K. Kojima.
The Windows App Store – coming soon
Microsoft has announced plans to launch a similar app store in 2012, citing an initial release in late February 2012. Microsoft also announced a different philosophy of software sales, stating that their initial sofware for sale will be Metro Style apps, or apps that will be used for photo editing, social networks and interactive applications. I’ve personally hesitated to start buying all of my applications through these specialized stores because I still find something valuable with having a cd or DVD for that application in my hand. Either way, it’s always important to backup all of your software, music and in my case avchd video on a reliable external hard drive.
What this means for software developers:
If your developing software for your company then the key thing to take away from this article is that retail software sales has a limited shelf life. It will be more important moving forward to shorten the sales process, and use these new distribution channels to get your product out on the iOS store, the Mac App store, or the future Windows App store.
This also applies to other specialized markets that are popping up all the time, like the amazon kindle fire store, and stores for specific devices such as the LGPZ750 Internet App TV and it’s app store, and the Roku box store.
If your developing a new application then get your app out there and make it compatible with the main 3 platforms in use today at minimum windows, OSX, and Linux, then make sure each version is rock solid stable and then develop mobile versions of the app for the iOS app store and the Android Store, and get it to the market as soon as possible.