Developers in short supply?

Apple have over 650,000 apps in it’s store, Android over 500,000 and so you would think there are too many developers out there with not enough to do?Whilst many of these apps may be experiments in using mobile development tools, in...

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Apple have over 650,000 apps in it’s store, Android over 500,000 and so you would think there are too many developers out there with not enough to do?

Whilst many of these apps may be experiments in using mobile development tools, in publishing to stores or just seeing the art of what is possible when writing a native app the fact is we have over million apps. Almost of every vendor of mobile development tools is trying t make it easier and quicker to write mobile apps, and the tools are getting better.

So it seems a little crazy to suggest that we are heading towards a shortage of developers? Apart from the trend of fewer people going into Programming in the UK I believe the key driver for the shortage will be innovation. I believe the innovation will be driven by:

  • App Mashups
  • Device to Device Apps
  • New sensors and Contexts

App Mashups

Currently most apps are standalone, with some interacting having a little interaction with other apps for example using FaceBook to log-in. This is an area that will grow. Firstly HTML5 standards are being expanded to provide standard api’s to access common mobile apps like contacts/phone books, calenders and galleries/photo stores. And secondly non-standard approaches are already facilitating App Mashups for example FireFox OS is allowing everything on the phone to be accessed using HTML5 and Microsoft ON(x) (see previous blog) is providing easy access to phone events, apps and data using Javascript. The useful combinations of this are almost limitless!

Device-to-Device Apps

Already consumers are used to operating a phone or tablet in front of the TV. Some TV programs have taken advantage of this by allowing audiences to play along to game shows simultaneously with contestants on the screen. However this capability will not be limited to screen based devices, literally every “device” in your home could have an IP address so be accessible from the Internet. So you could develop apps that switch on lights, heating open doors as you approach your house. Apps that reduce the volume on the TV if your phone rings. Again the possibilities are almost endless.

New Sensors and Contexts

As highlighted by a recent conference for "Mobile Health" new sensors are being developed as add on’s for phone’s. These sensors could for example monitor your heart rate. The obvious health apps will of course follow. But it is the combination of these sensors and the previous points which give rise to exponential new opportunities for example: Your car checking that you are well enough to drive. I’ve also covered "context driven computing” before and again these provide more data to drive further innovation in apps.

Having been involved in the Internet since the early days of Netscape, ridden the Internet rollercoaster from boom to bust to boom and being an cautious pessimist I can’t help but see a lack of developers looming in the not too distant future as people really start opening up to what will be possible not just on mobile devices but almost anything!

Time to invest in your Javascript and HTML5 skills before the goldrush starts.
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