Mario Yeltsin asks:
How much influence do app developers have over the mobile OS industry?
I believe that app developers have a huge influence over the entire mobile OS industry. Not only do they create the very software that makes an operating system more appealing to consumers, but in many cases the apps they build create new usage scenarios that hardware and OS makers rally around.
For example, the developers who first came up with a way to use your smartphone as a barcode scanner could very well be responsible for the widespread adoption of smartphones and other mobile OS devices (like the iPod touch) in retail stores as a POS device. You could use a single pocketable device to check customers out, track inventory, and eventually take credit card payments.
Today, barcode scanning apps are practically a must-have. Weight tracking apps use barcode scanning scripts to make tracking calories easier. Businesses are employing QR codes on their written materials, signage, and commercials to draw traffic to their website(s). Being able to do all of this without logging around a separate scanning device is nothing short of a revelation, and we have app developers to thank for this.
Apple, Microsoft, and Google frequently use independently created apps as a selling point for their platform. How many times have you seen the Angry Birds logo on ad material for iOS? What about some of the more high-end games like Infinity Blade, which take advantage of the more powerful processors in recent models of the devices?
There’s another side to this coin, too. Without a good OS that caters to the developer, there would be no developer culture. Developers depend on hardware and OS makers to create the mass appeal that draws users to the platform in order to buy their apps. Some developers stick to one platform or another because their ROI (return on investment) has been so good.
Do app developers influence the market? Absolutely. It’s equally true that the people being the mobile operating systems are responsible for creating a market that makes developers want to branch out and invest their time and talent to create apps for. It’s a relationship that wouldn’t work unless customers, OS engineers, and independent developers were all on board.