Last week provided me with an occasion to feel the tempo of the mobile ecosystem at Apps World in London. Here are a few thoughts about what I saw.
There were many many mobile agencies exhibiting… and local UK agencies were dwarfed in number by offshore ones, hailing mainly from India. Eastern European countries also had an important presence, especially Poland. It seems that the golden days of apps development are behind us. Most big companies now outsource their apps offshore. It also means that it’s becoming very important for local agencies to differentiate themselves. I actually pitched many of them about Algolia Search and differences in reactions were interesting. Most Indian based agencies didn’t have a second look; They preferred to wait for “requirements” from their customers. On the other hands European ones were on average much more interested in what they could do with such a lib. The most geniune interest always came from technical guys when they were present. By the way, if I could give advice to any agency participating in such a event, please come with at least a developer, and at best your CTO. You would gain much credibility and differentiation!
Out of all of the agencies, a few other disciplines were well represented… actually I may say “too much” represented as it often indicates an over-crowded field and a battle for survival!
- Testing and QA services. Offshore Indian firms are also very active in this space.
- Ad platforms and payment tools. I didn’t know there were so many options to choose from! Competition seemed harsh to get the attention of the few apps developers attending.
- And most of all cross-platform HTML5 frameworks! I’m not a big fan of PhoneGap and consorts, even if I admit it’s a good choice for some apps, especially “enterprise” ones. The space is so crowded with offers now, that many may not survive the next year! By the way if you want to offer a framework and want to differentiate yourself with a cutting-edge search functionality, you know how to contact me 😉
Two companies had a particularly important presence at the event compared to what we could have expected:
- RIM, with probably the nicest booth of all. They proposed BlackBerry porting classes, offered developer guidance and gave several workshop speeches. After their recent commitment to paying BlackBerry 10 developers a minimum of $10K, they continue to do all they can to attract developers. But I’m afraid I agree with Charlie Kindel that paying developers is a bad idea!
- Twilio, actively promoting their voice and SMS APIs. Their immense success reminds us that there are still billions of feature phones out there!
The other less surprising major players included Samsung and Microsoft, but no Google and no Apple (not unexpected!). Of course, they were present in many conversations! I had for example a very interesting chat with Adam Hościło about the many opportunities provided by the new iOS 6 Passbook. It’s opening a golden area for many in the next few months!