Apple-App-Store.pngThis week marked a diverse set of technology milestones: Apple’s app store turned fiveMicrosoft announced that it’s reorganizing and Amazon’s stock crossed $300 per share. For those of us who’ve grown up in the software industry, it’s been a week underscoring the fact that software is eating the world.

Maybe you haven’t been paying attention…

The app store model has massively changed the way in which software is discovered by and distributed to consumers. Apple’s app store was an afterthought. But, in many ways, it’s the store that ushered in the age of the smartphone. In five short years, consumers have:

Every information business is being impacted.

For the bulk of the software industry’s history, the agenda has been set by the large corporations, governments and large players in the information economy. The economic benefits were massive. And, here in Seattle, we’ve felt those impacts acutely, with Microsoft leading the way, growing into a “Fortune 1” software company.

Consumers now wield significant influence, however and are starting to set the agenda. How can we tell? Well, consider this:

What’s exciting: Seattle’s perfectly positioned in my view to ride the trends.

As the CEO of a mobile-focused company I see two major reasons to be super optimistic about the next 10 years in the software industry:

  • The emphasis on the consumer makes me happy personally. My phone is fast becoming my remote control for everything. Print my boarding pass a day in advance? Forget that, I just open up the Alaska Airlines app, check in and have everything I need in 20 seconds.

  • As someone who has been living in the world of 0’s and 1’s for decades, I absolutely love that there is now widespread acceptance that software is key to every industry’s ability to accomplish their goals.

These trends could not be any better for the Seattle software community. If you look around you can see a common theme to the companies who have grown up in the Seattle area: they are customer obsessed. Whether it’s Nordstrom or REI, Starbucks or Costco, Amazon or Zulily, we have a tradition here in the Northwest: Take extraordinary care of your customer.

seattle-supermoonOur software pedigree is second to none. Microsoft, Amazon, RealNetworks, Expedia, Zillow and many other local companies have led the revolution in personal computing and used the Internet to transform the way in which people use technology to lead their lives.

This means that as software becomes more personal, our pool of talented professionals is uniquely suited to dreaming up the future and building it. Witness the stunning growth of Moz or HasOffers, companies rethinking the way marketing is done across the web and mobile. They’re able to tap into our deep bench of technical talent to build the future. And as Moz CEO Rand Fishkin shared with us a few weeks ago, Seattle’s talent environment is favorable and sustainable.

And what’s next?

Well, for starters, we should expect the growth to continue accelerating.

When MobileDevHQ CEO Ian Sefferman, GameHouse senior director Ryan Morel and I had our weekly app marketing conversation this week we focused on the past 5 years. One of the key takeaways was that we’re clearly just getting started, given that only about 1/7th of the world has started to truly adopt smartphones.

Every business I talk to has mobile on the tips of their tongues. Their customers are visiting them on mobile devices more often every day and the challenge for most companies is finding resources and expertise to build out their mobile experiences. This is very much the behavior that we saw from companies in the early 2000’s —the investment case had been made for the Internet and companies were then in “catch up mode” for the rest of the decade.

As consumers, we should expect our digital lives to continue becoming more personal. From the coffeeshops we visit to the vacations we plan, the connection our phones are creating for us enable every company to deliver an Amazon-like personalized experience.

The secret to Amazon’s tremendous success is that they’ve built software that is incredible at reducing friction in every one of their customers’ lives. We can look forward to being able to expect this from every company we deal with in the future. Seattle’s customer ethos is set to spread globally and I’m excited by the opportunity for our community to lead the way.

Robi Ganguly is CEO of Apptentive, a Seattle startup that focuses on in-app feedback. You can follow him on Twitter @rganguly.

Comments

  • Captain Obvious

    He’s CEO of a company in the mobile arena, and he thinks iPhones have
    only had Exchange integration for three years? Please. Three years ago
    they got multi-account Exchange. But my iPhone 1st Gen connected just
    fine to MIcrosoft’s Exchange servers the day I bought it in June of
    2007.

    • http://robiganguly.com/blog Robi Ganguly

      Hey there Captain Obvious (I’ve always wanted to type that out, thank you :-) ) – you are right, with certain settings it was possible to connect to Exchange. What I linked to above was specifically about the multi-account Exchange and the importance of that was a meaningful upgrade in the overall Enterprise experience. I hope that the larger point of the piece wasn’t undermined by this small area of confusion.

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