Dear app developers: you’re in the media business

App Developers Media Business

So, you’re an app developer – creating and designing beautiful, engaging and useful software (hopefully).

You are also creating media.

It occurred to me as I read a piece by Seth Godin (yeah, I know he gets mentioned a lot, he’s a smart guy) on the erosion of the paid media pyramid that many app developers don’t realize that they’re in the media business and that the concepts Seth’s talking about apply very directly to anyone making apps.

It’s worth the read, but I’ll share the key things and apply them specifically to app development:

  • Almost anyone can publish anything. Including apps. (don’t think so? Go look at all the app builder companies that are growing rapidly)
  • Attention is worth more than ever before
  • More people will continue to engage in free media

Now, what’s nice about this in the software industry is that we’re coming from a place of small expectations. 5 years ago, being an independent developer was for the few, the known and the lucky. Today, independent app developers are getting VC funding, building 8, 10, and 20 person shops funded purely on app sales and making massive and global brands. Why? Because of the App Store model. The same model that has “shrunk” the music market is giving rise to the consumer software market.

So, there’s nowhere to go but up for us. What used to be a small community has grown to an exceptionally large one overnight. But we have to heed the prediction that Godin offers for the media business:

Media projects of the future will be cheaper to build, faster to market, less staffed with expensive marketers and more focused on creating free media that earns enough attention to pay for itself with limited patronage.

Build cheap.

Build fast.

Build things that people love – so you can ensure that you have active patronage – patronage that ends up creating free media.

Robi Ganguly
Updated: June 28th, 2013 2:52 pm