The Indie Ocean

My finger-to-the-wind says that apps and services aiming for mainstream consumer appeal, which were already impossibly hard, are only going to get harder in the coming years. There’s too much noise, and attention is fleeting. Any company that hasn’t started by now has already lost.

But on the other hand, iOS is a rapidly-maturing operating system. It’s officially seven years old today. The latest round of iPads and iPhones have practically removed all hardware barriers limiting what software can do.

In other words, while the tides of attention-based, multi-million-dollar startups churn red with the blood of all the contenders, I think there’s a vast blue ocean waiting for independent developers to make prosumer and pro software. I look at an app like Editorial by Ole Zorn and think, “My god, that’s where the rest of us should be going.”

Mass market, VC-funded companies can’t ship those kinds of apps. Apple’s apps will never be all things to all customers, either. But many people are still going to need advanced tools to get through their day-to-day lives. Not just writers, but first grade teachers, speech-language pathologists, youth pastors, session guitarists, ICU nurses — everyone.

I think that success will come to folks who can figure out how to ship “maximum viable products” on day one, without venture funding and without going bankrupt in the process, apps that are carefully designed and built to solve real problems for real people.

|  9 Jan 2014