Mar 102011

You want an app and it isn’t in Apple’s App Store or Android’s Market? Order it and get your order fulfilled by a team of people that forms to respond to your order. Better yet, be a part of that team.

We’ll be at a couple billion smartphones with broadband Internet access within a few years. That will fuel an incredible demand for apps. An on-demand, crowdsourced type model of app development will evolve over time to respond to that market.

I want a custom app so I float a description, mock-up or prototype across the internets and build a specification with the feedback. My app spec then goes into a queue of sorts with 50 customer names behind it. Or maybe 5000. Folks that want to help develop it – design, architecture, programming, testing, documentation, support, GTM…any part of the life-cycle – can then form a team to build it (and as the “requester”, I may also be a part of that – a dev, a tester, etc. – the traditional boundaries between product type folks and dev type folks start to go away). The traditional product or dev cycle becomes more open, peer-produced and crowdsourced.

From another perspective, I’m a pure application developer. I review a queue of requests (ideas) that are looking for a dev to join the team and hand-pick the ones I want to develop – the ones I care about the most, the people I want to work with. I have at least one customer that has expressed interest, maybe 5000, so I also have some requirements, a pilot user group, a feedback loop, a QA group and people to market the app if I get it right.Inefficient layers between idea and execution are eliminated.

Product shops will be disrupted, at least the weak ones. We don’t usually know what we want, and we tend to extend our current world, rather than leap into new ones, so the truly innovative, game-changing, reality-distorting product shops will still thrive – e.g. Apple, Amazon, Netflix etc. It is the shops that build the other 99% of software-based products that will be disrupted.

We need software in the middle to make this really tick. A combination of GitHub, Amazon, oDesk, Elance type layer to optimize collaboration, manage the queue and transactions, provide reputation and recommendations, manage signal to noise, etc. Probably done by a start-up. Similarly, start-ups will evolve to take care of the business, operational and support models.

Most of the rest of the ingredients are coming together: high velocity software dev enviros, third party components, libraries and platforms, open source, market of billions, ability of people to virtually work together across the world, ability to market and distribute without enormous budgets, cloud computing and storage, etc.

The software product industry is going to be disrupted by this type of disintermediation, democratization, unbundling and crowdsourcing that we’ve seen in media, entertainment and news.

  • Mobile Application Developers

    Making and marketing apps are really not as simple as many people believe. I think you do a good job at having a quick glance of some of the steps but it’s still more complicated than you portray.

  • gzino

    Agree, not simple at all. I don’t think the complexity negates the model listed above; does mean it won’t “work” for all use cases and people.

  • iDragonsDen

    Interesting article. It was particularly your point about need a ‘layer in the middle’ that grabbed my attention, from self-interested point of view I must confess! You see, we’re just about to launch a new service that does, I think, just what you’re suggesting – we’re pulling together app developers, investors and people who just have good ideas for mobile apps, to help turn those good ideas into reality and helping to manage that process so it isn’t just a ‘free for all’ type approach. I’m hoping that we might therefore be the start-up that you suggest! We’re called iDragon’s Den (, and we’re currently opening up to people who are interested in getting involved ahead of our full launch next month. I think it’s a great idea, but then I would, wouldn’t I? Everyone seems to have a great idea for an app, but getting the right ones made and actually taking them to market and making them profitable is the big challenge, so we’re hoping our model will help with that. And it’s free to get involved with us too… We’ll announce our full launch on Twitter soon (@idragonsden).

  • gzino

    I look forward to good things from iDragonsDen then, good luck to you.

  • iDragonsDen

    Thanks! That’s very kind of you :-)

  • PS
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