iOS developer house Pixite decided to give full access to the entire company to Casey Newton.
This past December, Kaneko emailed me out of the blue. He didn’t know it then, but I’m a fan of the company’s apps: Fragment, which applies prismatic effects to photos, is one of my favorite artistic tools. “As an independent bootstrapped app company, we are struggling,” Kaneko wrote. “If things don’t turn around, we’ll need to lay off half of our staff in the next few months.” He invited me to come to San Diego and observe the struggle up close. Kaneko would open up Pixite’s books and share every piece of data that I requested while, over the course of two days, his team locked itself in a room and attempted to chart a path forward. Pixite would either figure it out or die.
For years now, I’ve been skeptical here on OSNews about the sustainability of the application store model. After the initial gold rush, Apple (or Google, for that matter) clearly had absolutely no clue what to do with the application store model to keep it sustainable after the gold rush ran out. Even today, after the languishing application store model utterly gutted the independent developer field and has caused tremendous harm to small developers, the two mobile heavyweights still seem utterly oblivious as to what to do going forward.
And now that both Apple and Google are trying to scale their mobile operating systems up from Facebook and Candy Crush to actual, serious work, everyone is finally starting to realise what a small number of skeptics warned about so many years ago: there’s no more money, incentive, or trust in the application store model for developers to create the kind of applications a scaled-up iOS and Android running on laptops or laptop-like devices would need.
This year is going to be incredibly fascinating. I have no doubt that Apple and Google will be able to scale iOS and Android up for work. The real question, though, is if they’ll be able to convince weary developers to invest in the application store model again.
I think it’s too late. Either there’s going to be deep, sweeping changes to how we distribute and sell applications on these platforms, or they will be forever confined to consumption.