Is it time to write software RIP on a tombstone? Here we look at the stability of the software industry and emerging software trends.
We debate this question a lot. As a team whose success is utterly determined by the long term stability of the software industry, we watch the comings and goings, the decline of titles, the decline of specific functionality niches that pop up, and the decline of our bank account. Just joking on the latter!
This is the first part of a larger meme that is often addressed in our blog posts. We've seen the (albeit slow) decline of Stuffit in favour of online "Sofware as a Service" titles like dropbox.com and yousendit.com that perform some crossover functions, a little bit less a little bit more depending on the service. Funny that Dropbox is actually software anyway, but it is service-based and has plan-based pricing and the download is free rather than the traditional model of burning the program onto a disc and shipping it in a box.
It tends to be the smaller niches where the total industry sales are usually under $1m that are being picked off by smart websites. Some quick examples:
Brainstorming software: Sales used to be divided amongst dozens of micro software publishers like Paramind. Now there's no shortage of mind map and collaboration tools that do that trick and lots more, like Freemind, a popular java tool that enables group collaboration and sharing.
Password managers: An ugly love child that popped up lately in internet security suites like Norton 360. Largely frustrating, difficult to use and sometimes unsecure anyway, we think they'll grow cobwebs while the market leader in online password management, Passpack and it's ilk continue to grow (albeit from a currently small base of users).
Psychometric testing: Doesn't make sense to do it with software when sophisticated IQ and personality testing can be done online. While there is a lot of "IQ Testing" garbage online (mostly scams proliferated for years that found a second life in Facebook, aimed at making you pay for something worth nothing), the serious end of things exist there too.
The biggest issue for the software industry, and one we come across daily, is that software companies struggle in the online environment. There's plenty of exceptions, particularly the bigger publishers like Smith Micro, Serif, Intuit's Quickbooks and Turbotax, Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec's Norton and plenty of others. Will they go the way of Paramind or will they create online versions? Do they need to create online versions? In the next instalment of this series we'll look at software that will always remain software.
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