The build up to the Windows 8 release was full of the expected hyperbole, the notion that the most widely distributed operating system ever would shortly have a marketplace that could place the average developer front and center of a money making whirl wind was both easy to sell and even easier to buy. However, I am starting to realize there is a natural order to the make up of a developer driven marketplace that directly effects the ability to reap the rewards of that marketplace.
After missing the boat on what is arguably the most successful and accessible marketplace to date I was determined to get in on the ground floor of the Windows Phone Marketplace, but the pecking order of the marketplace and the limited marketing seemed to align itself to companies and developers who had already gained a measure of success in other areas. I had found my work and efforts in the middle of a Serengeti and I was barely registering as a predator.
The real physical Serengeti is primarily shaped by what is described as the largest terrestrial mammal migration on earth. Literally millions of wildebeests and Zebra converge on grass plains and provide the local predators with a veritable feast. The top level predators have both the ability and the cunning to take out the biggest prey but that is certainly not the case for all the predators. I started enjoying this analogy so much I continued it in the table below.
|Large scale software companies have the means and resources to tackle almost any size project imaginable. These companies are so big that they effectively become a source of work for companies further down the “food chain”. In fact every predator in this hierarchy directly or indirectly benefits from the top level players. Examples include Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Apple.
|Medium scale software companies can work in concert with larger companies, or in some cases, directly against. They certainly have the ability to provide work further down stream but are usually thorough enough to squeeze what ever marrow remains from their customers.
|Lone alpha developers with a singular skill that set them apart from the crowd. Their talent and placement allow them to go after smaller specialized clientele, without directly competing with larger and stronger companies. However, their solitary development and specialized skill narrows the field of potential customers.
|Represents the casual developer who probably works for one of the bigger firms during the day, but within their spare time will submit the occasional app, or create the occasional web application for a local business/friend.
So where do I fit in? Probably the humble coyote, hopefully with more sense than Wile E.
UPDATE: Recently seen this research article from Canalys that suggests that the lion share of app revenue is going to the top 25 developers.