I read an interesting article over at Time.com today: (http://techland.time.com/2012/04/30/how-the-software-industry-is-being-reborn/ ). It covers how Android, iOS and Windows 8 Metro are changing the way the computer industry looks at itself. The invention of touch interfaces has forced the Software Industry to completely change how its interfaces work. I, for the most part, believe that Ben Bajarin is right insofar as the software industry is having to rethink its processes. I also think he misses one major issue that has not yet been addressed: the issue of the Operating Systems not being flexible enough to consider them “Reborn”
All of these major players still assume business as usual. It’s still a market where buying one operating system only works on one device. Thanks to this fact, you must always purchase separate pieces of software to complete the same things. Amplifying the issue, each piece of software has completely different looks, different features and different ways to interface.
Take email, for example. On my Android device, I use the default Gmail Client. I can swipe side to side to move between emails in my inbox. Yet on my iPad, even in Google’s own iPad app, I have to navigate via a list on the side of my screen, no more swiping side to side. Then to amplify the issue again, when I get onto my computer and log into Gmail via my Chrome Browser, I either have to click on tiny little arrows or exit to my inbox to get to the next email. Heck, even when I had my Acer Iconia (Android) tablet, I was missing that same functionality.
I’m not trying to say that I want a clone of the tiny Gmail client on all of my devices. I’m more than happy to see the extra space of the larger devices used effectively but the basic functionality of the smallest app should carry to the others. I want to be able to click and drag side to side to move between emails no matter what device or operating system I’m using. We see this with almost every piece of software from device to device.
Making things worse, each Operating System reacts differently to each touch. Each method of data transfer different, some use usb, some sync to the cloud and some to even more limited media like cards or dvds. This causes each Software Company to have to create and maintain different code bases, interfaces and file formats. Even more frustrating, it forces them to chose which operating systems to create software for and which ones to ignore.
The fighting over copyrights has to end, it only encourages interfaces that are exclusive and incompatible. If I sit at an iMac, I should be able to use the same controls as when I sit at a windows machine, or when I pick up my phone or my tablet.
This alleged reboot of the software industry that Time.com refers to is nothing more that a repeat if the .com bust. It’s big companies forgetting that if they make an app that works the same way across all devices and interfaces, they could actually make things easier on themselves and make more money. It all comes back to having to create multiple code bases for each device.
The real innovator, the person or team that is going to lead the next tech boom, will be the one that comes up with a way to overlay all of the different operating systems. The person that can modify Windows 8 Metro to work just like my Android Phone and my Android Phone to work just like my iPad. The person that creates this overlay and says “Here is the standard for all of my devices, feel free to make it yours”. The person will be the richest and most famous person in the world.