Too Many Web Apps, Too Little Money

Web app development is yet another case of the 1% versus the 99%. Only one percent of Web […]

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NOTE: My original post, originally published in January 2013, continues to be one of the most viewed on the site.  Android and Apple have enjoyed an estimated 98% market share between the two, and many of my earlier projections regarding this market appear to have been borne out. However, the smartphone market has now matured to the point that it is at a strategic inflection point which has major implications for the future of this market and the major competitors. The rapid maturation of the smartphone market should have been foreseen: the rise of domestic Chinese competition combined with the predictable end of the Western consumer fascination with “the next smartphone”

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Hopefully this comes as no surprise to many, but for some, alas, I am afraid they have yet to get the email. It’s yet another case of the 1% versus the 99%. Only one percent of Web app developers have made any real money, the other ninety-nine percent are SOL. Forty-seven percent of those, make absolutely no money or less than $100 on their app. Not surprisingly there are now over a million apps on the Apple store, and when you add all of the other sources for apps, you can see that the problem is coming to a head. I saw this coming over two years ago and wrote about the problem on this blog, citing a New York Times story published about that time, describing the dark underbelly of the Web app development culture. In a satire of the problem, last year The Onion published a gag story about a new app called “Squander” that enabled users to “geolocate others nearby who had also wasted $2 on the same app.”

It appears the creators of Candy Crush Saga are ready to cash in on the success of the simple three-of-a-kind matching game.

King, the British company behind the Candy Crush Saga as well as a slew of other social games, has submitted paperwork for an initial public offering to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to the Telegraph. The UK-based technology company is expected to trade on the US’s Nasdaq exchange, and garner a value of more than $5 billion.

One would think that this should have happened sooner….but, well, there is a human tradition here…Wikipedia currently lists 342 social media apps, emphasizing up front that their list is not exhaustive. I can think of at least two more local social media startups, one of which has just announced significant new investments. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds, the now legendary book by Charles Mackay, first published in 1841, remains a classic text revered for its insights into social psychology and economic bubbles.

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Creating open industry standards always wins, by creating a larger market for all competitors and platforms. This story has been repeated endlessly in technology markets. You would think after so many proprietary failures, it wouldn’t keep repeating itself. HTML5 appears to be another case where an open industry standard has again created a win-win for all involved, including consumers.