It's a lot of little brushes that paints the big picture

Will ‘Big’ Software be ready for App Stores and Inexpensive Solutions?

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In my previous post, I mentioned the many ways our information may be kept off our our local computers. Saving on space and making it accessible through a variety of tools. Also, I ran through the thought of lite version of software on your notebook/mobile devices with more robust software being online.

There was a surprise result of the iPhone in the hands of the ‘end users’. The need for inexpensive mobile solutions to do research and create/edit files. There has long been mobile software for the Newton and Palm devices but the software options where and still are, through a variety of sources and not very well quality controlled.

In our Newton days, we used to show our solutions to a couple key Apple programmers to see if they felt we had done anything hacky. It wasn’t required, but we were concerned about our software being around a long time and not broken in a future OS update. Oh, and our clients feeling it all ‘just worked’ was important to.

With Apple’s iTunes App Store for the iPhone, Touch and iPad, we live in a world of lite and affordable software. People spend a lot of money, a few dollars at a time, to get a solution to their problems or needs. Google and Mozilla are on their heels with their own ‘app stores’.

Recently, it was announced that the App Store will be able to distribute desktop software as well. A lot of teams are scrambling to makes sure their software will be on the early list of options when the service goes live. It will mean a single spot to go for all of your software needs. While there is already many sites that list out software for your particular device, they do not control anything more than how the software is listed. They do nothing about checking to make sure that app follows any rules, passing the risk of crashes and conflicts onto the purchaser.

As more mobile versions of computing devices grow in numbers, it will be more acceptable to have small/light hardware so users are ‘always connected’. In the world of data being stored online, there is a natural path forward to have lower expectations on what is possible to do with the computing power at hand.

Like in the current case of Photoshop. Everyone knows they can’t live without it for doing everything with their images, most people have more power than they need by using Pixelmator. There are very few documents ever created that use more than a couple of the functions offered by Word. We all have it or some other robust office solution installed but most of what we do every day could be done with a lot less  features. If we need to pull in the ‘power’ of large scale software, we aren’t sitting in the park while working on the document.

This has been seen with the software currently offered for the iPad. There are 100s of photo editing options with non coming close to Photoshop. Each has their set of tools to enable photo editing and touch ups. Some iPads will get one of these, others will have multiple photo apps installed. I have yet to meet anyone that would drop $100 on a super photo editor even if it did everything desktop software could do. What is being purchased is just enough to do the job. Beyond that is more of a pain to do on a small screen so why put yourself through it. Wait till your back at your desk.

If mobile devices are fighting for your attention through size and battery life, will they have OS level changes as well? Will a notebook of the future really need much more than what is currently called iOS4? Google had an early OS called Chrome (not the Chrome Web Browser) which many of us installed and run to test with. Chrome OS relies on you connecting to the Internet to use the Google tools (spreadsheets, documents, project managment, etc…). If it had light versions of those same tool to run locally on a notebook and then connect for full power, they would be at the finish line already.

A lite vesion of a OS to run only lite versions of software wont be a change we will see this or next year. It will take a lot to convince the regular user that it does everything they need. It is coming, just as soon as people see they can buy apps that do what they want for just a few dollars, which is closer than we had thought.

The ‘big’ software providers, do you think they will go online, lite installed versions or try to stay the way they are now… and become collector items on eBay?

 
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