App evolution meets adsense
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App evolution meets adsense

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I had the wonderful opportunity to attend and speak at Barcamp Shanghai....

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend and speak at Barcamp Shanghai.

I am passionate about incremental development, sharing wealth, and making technology work for us.

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  • Who here has an idea for an app ?What are the chances of you making money without promotion – whether it is a massive spend, a review by Robert Scoble, or other efforts ? How would your app get noticed? It’s hard work – which makes sense – but maybe not as much sense as we think.
  • I have been struck by something really odd. When there is a news story about iTunes or a PR statement by an OEM touting their marketplace, these giant figures are thrown out as if they are a good thing. 200,000 thousand apps? Is that really a good thing? I want to take a moment to consider why those statements are made, why there is an implication that they are impressive statements, what the actual implications are, and what the possible causes are.First of all, the implication is that by having many apps, you have a lot of choice, and therefore you will be happy with the marketplace and find what you want. Is that necessarily true? Quantity is rarely a statement about quality. And in my experience on the web, “more is not more” unless we carefully manage the quantity or apply very thoughtful processes to it. (Ex: search engines?)Actual implicationsToo many apps: - Low quality ratio- Hard to findCan’t mix and match the features you likeToo much ego:Only a few will get very rich, but most developers are not rewarded as well as entrepreneurs or managers nobody invents anything alone, we are always collaborating and incrementing… so why do only some get really rich while others barely get by? computers are supposed to make our lives better – all of usDid these guys build all of this alone? No way! Great ideas are built on the shoulders of giants, and on the shoulders of midgets as well.Frankly, I am NOT impressed with the apps, nor with the rate of improvement in them, and although there is a lot of competition, I don’t see as much co-opetition as I would lie to see. Co-opetition means people helping each other do really good work without being greedy.
  • Like Measuring Hits, the way that apps are quantified today is not insightful, in fact it is a smokescreen. In many ways we are moving backwards, or stepping through the same infancy as in the Desktop SW age, or the early web. We should care about how good the apps are, how easily we can find them, whether they help us do the things we want to do (whether that is study, work, play, socialize, manage our finances, be informed about and participate in the news etc.).It is unimaginable to me that these giant companies (Apple, Google) have created a flatland in which the most downloaded app rises to the top. You probably know from experience that it is harder to know what people think of something, or how they use it, than to know whether they have clicked a link. But downloading an app is simply too weak a signal to be running an app store. At a minimum the ratings should consider what happens next. Did I use the app? Did I download another app? Did I send feedback on a bug? Did I continue using the app?After considering the weakness of the rankings I reached one conclusion. The motivation of the app stores is not truly focused on users. And it is not focused on developers either. You can guess, it is just focused on capturing market share of traffic in order to build the strongest ecosystem. It is a quantity over quality approach, and it is optimized for the app store vendor – for the container, not the people who contribute content/apps and use them, the people who add tremendous value to the ecosystem.------------------------------------------------- other version of notes ---------------------------------------------Each major vendors is creating an ecosystem in which developers and userscan supposedly thrive… but each marketplace is quite flawed and they are all optimized to generate the maximum reward for the vendor creating the marketplace itself.Flawed? I could go on forever about how difficult it is to compare apps, to find them if you don’t know the keywords other people are using, or to know whether people are actually using them (versus downloading them). Ratings are not working (yet).Historically MS created an ecosystem for vendors to build applications on the Windows platform. That is exactly what Apple and others want for their ecosystems now. Fair enough, but I propose a different approach. It’s revolutionary. The approach is, we create a new virtual domain in which apps are optimized for users, and then deployed into the vendor platforms. Eventually there would be ecosystems that natively supported configuring apps in the ways we really want.
  • Here’s an image that illustrates my point. Lots of attention goes into the ecosystems of the OEMs. It does a good job of depicting how extensive and complex the ecosystems are. These are ecosystems in which we are invited to dive in and, from the OEM’s perspective, hopefully live within one ecosystem.What’s odd about the picture? It just tells a story about the territory claimed by each OEM. It does not depict your individual need to perhaps bridge these ecosystems, or do things outside them.
  • I just think the weird thing is that the neither the user nor the developer are depicted. To me this tellls the story that the ecosystems are optimized for the OEM, without any genuine interest in developers or users. And that is OKAY.But we have a choice. My proposal is on behalf of developers and on behalf of users, and I think it would create a better balance of power – or really, better distribution of control, wealth, and better experiences for everyone. So enough about motivation… I could talk a lot about motivation but we can get back to that during Q&A…
  • My idea is to play on ideas like “2 pizza project” (Bezos) and Agile, and even the 2 or 3 word startup ideas. Do go smaller than that. For a very good reason – people actually have ideas that are smaller than an app. They have ideas one feature at a time. But the architecture of apps forces us to bootstrap an entire new app (or community) instead of modifying an existing one… People don’t really want apps – they (we) want features, services, to get things done.If we could do microdevelopment, of just one feature, and use that variant feature in an existing app, then we could try more ideas that we really care about, more quickly. And if we were motivated to do so because good features were rewarded, then this could shift the economic relationships and move power closer to developers and designers (who are often users themselves).
  • A simple way to describe this would also be “AdSense for Features”. If you build a great feature, and people use it in an app, then you get rewarded. For example, maybe I have an idea for ringtone. That would be content that I want to add to an existing app. Oh, that is commonplace today. Let’s take that one step further. I want to be able to load any sound clip in as an alarm ringtone. It could be a song, or my own voice, or someone else’s voice. It could be a personalized message saying exactly why I should get up “go to the gym” or “buy milk” or “get dressed for your interview”.This idea is small - and today it requires making an entire new app – but I propose we extend the app instead. I have ideas like this all day, every day, so I would like to act on some of them, but I can’t act on many because making a new app takes time, and I don’t want to make more apps, I want to make better ones.This implies that there are “fewer apps” and more features. I realize that rocks the boat quite a bit, so before we analyze all the problems, let’s imagine how awesome things could be if this were possible.
  • Narrate the scenario… Then jump back to the present…
  • The examples I mostly talk about are compound features, but of course we can re-use user interface elements like the spinner for setting your alarm clock… or lots of the open source frameworks and kits today operate at and across various levels of a stack.Let’s focus on the notion of pluggable features, to keep the discussion simple, and let’s just remember that the idea of plug-ability and re-use can apply to all layers of an architecture.
  • A simple way to describe this would also be “AdSense for Features”. If you build a great feature, and people use it in an app, then you get rewarded. For example, maybe I have an idea for ringtone. That would be content that I want to add to an existing app. Oh, that is commonplace today. Let’s take that one step further. I want to be able to load any sound clip in as an alarm ringtone. It could be a song, or my own voice, or someone else’s voice. It could be a personalized message saying exactly why I should get up “go to the gym” or “buy milk” or “get dressed for your interview”.This idea is small - and today it requires making an entire new app – but I propose we extend the app instead. I have ideas like this all day, every day, so I would like to act on some of them, but I can’t act on many because making a new app takes time, and I don’t want to make more apps, I want to make better ones.This implies that there are “fewer apps” and more features. I realize that rocks the boat quite a bit, so before we analyze all the problems, let’s imagine how awesome things could be if this were possible.
  • Now my goal today is not to present a complete and detailed architecture. My goal is to generate conversation, get feedback, and perhaps meet some people who want to work together on an idea like this. So I will focus on some unique requirements of the new architecture.As far as I know, this is a different architecture than exists today in the mobile landscape… we have OS’s and lots of development frameworks, we have apps and threads and patterns, but my observation is that many frameworks often tend to be very low level.If you look outside of mobile, you see that over time, frameworks or products matured to a point where features are configurable – for instance, browser plugins or extensions are becoming more powerful and common, and the architecture was put in place to do so by some very thoughtful people. And we see it in large systems, which require a great deal of specialized administration. You see it in Linux, SharePoint, Google Apps, and many examples in the Cloud, etc etc.). But since we are all using our smartphones and connecting with them to many cloud based services and other personal devices at home and work, there is a burning need – and a huge opportunity – for these capabilities. Talk about each one in one sentence….Collaboration Config 3.0, Social Sharing, Measurement, Rewards.
  • As far as I know, this is a different architecture than exists today… we have OS’s and lots of development frameworks, we have apps and threads and patterns, but not
  • The rest is technical – hard and exciting

Transcript

  • 1. App Evolution meets AdSense
    A new architecture for micro-entrepreneurship, faster-than-agile development,
    and sharing the wealth
    david.kennan@gmail.com
  • 2. Too Many Apps!
    and too much ego…
  • 3. Apps Stores Measure “Downloads”
    = bogosity
    (ridiculous)
  • 4. The Dogs of War
    What’s odd about this picture?
  • 5. The Dogs of War
    Where is the user?
    Where is the developer?
  • 6. The Idea
    An architecture to promote micro-development
    share the rewards for useful, valuable
    innovation with all contributors
    (and make the world better)
  • 7. AdSense for Features
  • 8. What if…
    8:00 … oversleep … post idea for ringtone p13n
    developers bid 14:00
    16:00 review bids, form team
    development 17-20:00
    22:00 alpha feature, field test……….
    3 months later… we all receive a check in the mail !
  • 9. Features are anything pluggable
  • 10. Configuration ofFeatures
    Description: record your own voice, forward recordings to friends…
  • 11. What’s needed?
    An architecture
    for configuring features
    that supports
    Collaboration
    Measurement
    Configuration 3.0
    Rewards Framework
    Social Sharing
  • 12. What’s needed? Collaboration
    A way to build a team
    Negotiate skills, contributions
    Tools to discover and compare building blocks
  • 13. What’s needed? Configuration 3.0
    Apps that support massively pluggable features
    Ability for users to select a set of features (“configuration”)
    Directory/Registry of features… taxonomy
    My features
  • 14. What’s needed? Social Sharing
    Promote the features and configurations you like (to friends, reviews)
    Tagging
    Provide feedback on features
  • 15. What’s needed? Measurement
    Measure use of features
    Measure impact of each feature on other features/apps/OS/ecosystem
    Track bugs, comments, complaints, abandon-rates
    Extensible measurement
    Note: If you improve the measurement system, you’ve contributed value
  • 16. What’s needed? Rewards Framework
    Based on agreed “shares” (during development) and value to users
    Monetization – ads, referrals, services, etc.
    Extensible valuation
    Prevent “spam-dilution” – credit for early innovation versus minor tweaking
    Governance
  • 17. What’s an App?
    How many apps on your phone?
    How many do you use daily/weekly/monthly?
    How does your usage compare to most users?
    Conjecture: 80-20 rule could apply to categorization of apps.
    I think of alarm clock as different from radio
  • 18. Inspirations
    AdSense for features
    Wikipedia for app-logic
    Micro-loans
    Online games with real-world consequences
    Research in how we learn and thrive
    Unix pipes
    Encourage evolution
    OO, re-use for the masses
  • 19. Incremental + Entrepreneur
    Micro-development
  • 20. Why ?
    Help people focus on their strengths – rapidly team with others to tackle a smaller problem
    Recycle, don’t trash our marketplaces
    Create faster, quality experiences
    Share the rewards
    Dis-intermediate VC’s
    Stop the Patent Insanity
    Empower developers worldwide
  • 21. Why hasn’t this been done?
    Rush to grab land in the app-stores
    Hard to make taxonomies
    Mythology
    Hard to design for plug-ability, re-use and integration
    But I think it is inevitable
  • 22. Simplified Roadmap
    Phase 1
    Limited sandbox on iOS
    Games
    Utilities
    Better sandbox on Android
    Phase 2
    Virtual community
    Emulation platform
    Compilation to OEMs
    Native Android support for configuration 3.0
    Phase 3
    New OS
    Native devices
    New economy
    Connected to traditional
    (brick and mortar) economy
  • 23. Is this new? Interesting?
    What is this like?
    Has it been done before?
    Do you want to work on this idea?
    Technology is “amoral” – what undesirable consequences could emerge? Will this benefit developers and users in the way I hope?
    Will this help developers? Will it let them compete more effectively with less effort?
  • 24. Thank You !
    david.kennan@gmail.com
    www.increpreneur.com