*To the devs in this room, anyway
(L to R: Mark Kvamme (Sequoia Capital), Albert Cheng (ABC-Disney Television), Jessica Steel (Pandora), Gordon McLeod (WSJ Digital)
My day at the inaugural AppNation conference has mostly been spent remembering what big business apps are. Not that I ever forgot that, but since my job mainly revolves around phones - and not the apps they run - spending a day or two at an event like this really immerses me in the reality that the development, marketing, selling, promoting, and reviewing of apps is huge business. Huge.
The question that I keep coming back to when I think about apps is this: We all know there's plenty of money in Apple's iOS App Store, but what about on the other platforms? Is anybody making money - real money - developing for Android? And BlackBerry and Windows and webOS, do developers see opportunities outside of the Apple-Google War?
The answer I heard today was a pretty resounding, "Nope."
Bear in mind that what I witnessed was a very informal straw poll taken in a room of maybe 250 people, so don't take this as a necessarily representative cross-section of mobile developers worldwide, let alone any sort of scientific proof. But, when Mark Kvamme (a partner at VC heavyweight Sequoia Captial) asked the audience at the opening roundtable what platforms most interest them, the response was pretty clear: Only two of 'em matter.
After asking the roundtable panelists "If you had to pick only one platform to develop for over the next two years, what would it be?" and getting the predictable non-answers, Kvamme asked for a show of hands from the crowd to answer the same question. Android and iOS each got close to fifty-fifty shares, with Android looking to have a small lead. BlackBerry? Zero hands in the air. Windows Phone 7? Maybe five or six. "Is anyone interested in what HP is going to do with Palm and webOS?" Five hands.
I'm still looking for Android developers who are making the kind of money folks are earning selling iOS apps, but the utter lack of interest in virtually any other platform came as a total shock to me. Granted, this is a small conference and I have no idea what the ratio of devs to execs to media types was in that room this morning. But nobody raise their hand for BlackBerry. Wow.
What say you, especially the developers and/or mobile businesspeople reading this? Are their opportunities beyond iOS and Android, or is the combination of Apple's App Store mojo and Android's sheer volume of devices too much to ignore when it comes to focusing your efforts? BlackBerry, WinPhone, webOS, Bada, Symbian, Meego ... is anything else worth developing for at this point?