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For App Developers, More Big Changes are Coming Soon

The App Store revolutionized the tech world when it opened in the summer of 2008, spawning a billion-dollar industry in one fell swoop. It was neither the first nor the largest back then, but the store quickly exploded in popularity, prompting Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to say “it is going to be very hard for others to catch up.”

The store was one of the big stars this week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, with CEO Tim Cook’s announcement that it had recently “passed a major milestone, with 100 billion app downloads” since the store opened its virtual doors.

Many in the app-developer fold say the business, thanks to the marketplace created by the App Store and other outlets like Google Play, is still in its infancy and mobile apps in the next few years will continue to change human behavior in unimaginable ways.

From the “Internet of Things,” where apps will help connect an estimated 50 billion devices to the Internet by 2020 and transform the way we relate to our homes and workplaces, to the continued democratization of software, where tech novices will be able to build their own apps, the digital landscape will shift at a breakneck speed.

At the same time, the way apps come into being could also go through a seismic shift. The small independent app-makers who early on helped make the App Store the success it is today will find it harder to survive there, while large corporations will dominate the stage as their in-house coders custom-tailor more and more apps to meet their customers’ needs.

“We’re seeing big companies taking over” the mobile-app industry, said Mark Wilcox, a business analyst with VisionMobile. As a result, according to the firm’s recent survey, nearly half of the developers who want to make money building apps actually make zero or next to nothing. “Large companies, and especially game publishers, take all the top spots on the App Store and most of the revenue,” he said. “The little guys are struggling to compete.”

Calling the momentum “absolutely staggering,” Cook told developers this week that the App Store has forever changed the way we think of software and the way we all increasingly use it in our daily lives.

Learn more in the San Jose Mercury News

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