Application Development: What’s in Store in Near Future?

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 1917 , Published on 03 April 2013
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Date of Launch

Product

Date of Withdrawl

29-Jun-07

Apple iPhone

11-Jul-08

11-Jul-08

Apple iPhone 3G (8GB)

24-Jun-10

11-Jul-08

Apple iPhone 3G (16GB)

19-Jun-09

19-Jun-09

Apple iPhone 3GS (16 and 32 GB)

24-Jun-10

24-Jun-10

Apple iPhone 3GS (8 GB)

Current

24-Jun-10

Apple iPhone 4(GSM)

Current

10-Feb-11

Apple iPhone 4(CDMA)

4-Oct-11

14-Oct-11

Apple iPhone 4 (8GB)

Current

14-Oct-11

Apple iPhone 4S

Current

Presented above is a snapshot of the release and withdrawal dates of Apple iPhone models since it entered the market in 2007 (Source: Wikipedia).A quick data analysis would give us that the average life span of an Apple iPhone model is about a year.

 

Now compare it with the world’s best-selling phone ever, Nokia 1100, which was launched in the year 2003 and has sold 250 million pieces so far. There is clearly a difference in the market’s behavior for both these phones. Generalizing the same, we can conclude that a smart phone that caters to a highly intellectual audience has a shorter life span in the market than a regular phone with bare minimum features. This can be attributed to the following possible explanation:

  • Smart phones have a highly intellectual market that expects latest technological advancements to be made available to them. The same expectation does not hold true for a basic model. So the pace at which technology advances determines the pace at which these phones come and disappear from the market.

The example of Apple iPhone was used because it appears to be more intuitive and easy to explain. If we extrapolate what we have already established for Apple iPhone, we would see anyone in the business of technology needs to ensure that their products incorporate the latest advancements in the field of their operation or risk losing their business to their competitors. Coming back to our previous example, Apple right now is the most valuable technology company in the world whereas Nokia is having a troubled time with its quarterly revenue growth.

image:freedigitalphotos.net

This example and the inference therein are of great significance for the Information Technology (IT) industry, especially so for those that develop Software Applications. In fact, the analogy of Apple iPhone fits in perfectly to the Software Application Development industry. Hence for their survival and future growth, the players in the Software Application Development industry need to continuously innovate and ensure that their products are up to date.

And hence, every company in the Software Application Development industry needs to broadly define as to what they mean by ‘up-to-date’, based on their field of operation. The question is of vital importance primarily because of two reasons:

  1. Not only is this going to affect the present portfolio of products, but also it gives a sense of direction for the future products that the company plans to come out with. This gives a competitive advantage to highlight to probable customers or investors.
  2. There are multiple options while deciding what ‘up-to-date’ means for a company. And how ‘up-to-date’ is defined, will affect the entire eco-system of the products that the company owns. And hence, a wrong move might cost very dear.

Though the meaning of the term ‘up-to-date’ is highly subjective and varies greatly from one company to another, at any particular point of time, we can always identify certain common trends for the entire industry. These trends become the umbrella which encompasses most of the on-going efforts for newer products or enhancements to existing ones in that industry.

In the context of the Software Application Development industry, this umbrella, right now consists of the following primary trends:

Let’s see each of these trends in detail:

Cloud

With increased connectivity and mobility, small and medium scale industries have suddenly started comparing the benefits of setting up an in-house IT infrastructure versus achieving the same as a service. This not only saves the initial cost of setting up the infrastructure, which can be substantial for a small industry but also ensures that the time taken for going live with the new infrastructure is minimal. The subscription model ensures that you pay only for what you use for the period of time you use them. This also provides a cushion to the small industries if they have to wind up. Instead of getting their IT assets disposed, they now just have to cancel the subscription. All this has been possible because of the cloud – a virtual space in which your data and software resides which you can access just by typing a URL on your browser.

For the aforementioned reasons, there is a growing demand of cloud based service over traditional in house installations. With small and medium scale industries outnumbering the large ones by a great margin, this demand coming from them is a potential gold mine and hence all major application software developers are busy customizing their existing popular products to be compatible with their cloud offerings or give an option to migrate to the cloud. With highly successful business models being set up by Salesforce.com and Workday.com, cloud has increasingly become a buzz word that is driving innovation in the application software industry.

Social

Social is another buzz word in the circuit of Software Application Development. With the advent of social media and social networking, the online world has shrunk drastically. In the context of an organization, this implies two key things:

Internal Networking – Organizations around the world have suddenly woken up to the benefits of collaboration. Most dynamic organizations, these days, have a matrix structure and hence the need to work together across hierarchies and geographical locations. This has led to a demand for software that allows you to chat, comment and collaborate beyond its regular use. Project Management Solutions is a good example of an application that needs to be highly conscious of this trend.

Social Media – This is another factor that makes this trend very interesting. The presence of social media has become so prominent in our lives that no organization can afford to ignore the consequences it would have on its product or services.Everything from reviews to user feedbacks to support communities can decide the fate of a product. Not only that positive reviews or peer feedbacks can increase the number of sales. With online retail industries slowly taking precedence, this aspect has become very important. Everyone from Ebay to Amazon to Flipkart, give a lot of importance to user ratings. Companies like ShopSocially.com are trying to use the peer feedback mechanism to boost sales for their clients.

In short, in the present times, no organization can realize its full potential in isolation. This demand to be social has trickled down to the software they demand. With highly successful social networking sites like Facebook in vogue, the traditional software application development industry needs to adapt itself to the new demands of social software.

Mobile

Mobility has always been one of the primary objectives of the human race. And once mobility is established, the next concern is the speed of the same. We have crudely tried to explain the journey from the invention of the wheel to the supersonic jets. In the digital world as well, we are now in a time when data accessibility on the move is affordable and easily available. Not only that, we have also attained considerable speed in data transfers. With a wide range of smart phones to choose from, availability of 3G data connectivity and the overwhelming success of mobile OS -iOS and android – have caused an immediate necessity for software applications to adapt to mobile needs.

Not only should business applications run on mobile but also they need to be customized for better performance -  a mobile does not enjoy endless resource like a laptop and also cannot afford to have unnecessary data packets to be sent or received over a wireless cellular network; hence the need for optimization. The penetration of smart phones has been sharp and the demand from the market for software that runs on a mobile or a tablet is consistently increasing. Most application developers have already started preparing their software for this need. Light weight software that serves the basic purpose without too much of data transfers are the need of the day and firms that develop software applications are investing heavily on R&D of software that captures the latest trends in the mobile circuit.

Thus we see, this is quite an interesting phase for the Software Application Development industry. A lot of new players are coming up; some major players are facing stiff competition and this flux is creating opportunities for new entrants to the market. All traditional software application development firms are trying to incorporate as many of the features as mentioned above. What would eventually differentiate their product from their competitors is quality and effectiveness!

All in all, we look forward to cool and amazing applications coming from the software application development industry in near future.

This article has been authored by Shreetam Subhrankar by XLRI.


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