Yesterday in San Francisco, Apple showed once again that it cares about developers. And well it should. With Flurry reporting consumers spending 86% of their smartphone time in apps, not Web sites, the 1.14 million apps in the US App Store are just a drop in the bucket. We expect to see that number swell to 10 million apps by 2020. But that will only happen if Apple and the rest of the mobile industry focus relentlessly on developers.
Apple's goal is winning all the mobile moments. [See our new book, The Mobile Mind Shift, for much more on this important way of looking at the mobile revolution.] Developers are key to reaching that goal. Here are the things that struck me from Apple's announcements yesterday:
- More tools for developers. A new development language, "4,000" new APIs, a new testbed capability, and access to Touch ID, basic Siri language processing, and look-ahead typing are just the most obvious new capabilities that Apple is offering developers. To build innovative new apps, developers need all the tools and support they can get. These announcements reflect Apple's paced but steady rollout of things developers care about.
- More access to more sensors, hence context. Though Apple downplayed the healthcare opportunities a bit, it knows that developers need access to all the sensors on the devices in order to build interesting mobile moments in health, fitness, and location-based applications. These applications need to take advantage of all the context of that moment.
- More connections to the real world. The real world is at home, at work, and in important activities such as healthcare. Apple is targeting all of these markets with its links out to connected products, secure apps, and healthcare systems. The future is owned by whoever owns these important ecosystems.
- More focus on cloud services. Apple has long struggled with cloud services. Dropbox has 300 million users because it focuses on files and file-based applications. Apple's iCloud significantly lags Dropbox. But maybe Apple is turning the corner here, at least offering some parity. But this is where Apple must significantly shift it's focus and attention going forward. Developers need access to the Siri cloud, for example.
CIOs should take note: Apple is not letting up on its relentless focus on the things your customers and employees will benefit from: more and better apps. If you want to understand the future, ask your best mobile developer to mentor you on the future of mobile apps. Spend a couple of hours each month learning about new apps and new capabilities. It's the best way to lead your company's mobile mind shift.
Apple may not be perfect. But it is perfectly focused on the right constituency: developers.