“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.”
Seneca the Younger, Roman Philosopher, 4BC – 65 AD
We don’t know when we first heard the above, but it remains true as today as whenever it was first uttered.
For software developers, especially small organizations, opportunities to stand out come rarely and pass all too quickly. Opportunities must be seized when they present themselves. Those moments typically happen when a new device (PC, PDA, smartphone) come onto the market or when conditions suddenly shift (mainframe to desktop, packaged software to web, dropping Flash, etc). We have participated in, and profited from, a few of them (digital photography, Newton MessagePad, iPad). The signs are not difficult to recognize if one knows what to look for:
- Established players are forced to rethink their offerings.
Case in point: desktop software makers were forced to adapt their applications for the smartphone and tablet market. Those who tried to just cram their software designed for the larger screens onto smaller ones found themselves quickly surpassed by newcomers who designed their software specifically for the user on the go and for the smaller screen sizes.
- There’s a noticeable lack of dominant players.
When a platform is so new that everyone is essentially starting from “square one,” nobody is anybody, in the beginning. The big guys may have more resources to throw at a project, but above a certain size, more bodies won’t necessarily make a software project get to completion any faster or with better quality. Small, nimble teams can get a project out the door before the big guys get out from under their planning and budget meetings.
- No “killer app” has yet emerged.
When something “cool” with lots of “potential” enters the market, but most people don’t know what to do with it, or maybe even why to use it. When the personal computer was first introduced, many people were excited about the idea, but couldn’t really figure out why anyone would use one; being able to “store and catalogue recipes” was not a compelling reason. The market didn’t erupt until someone realized they could program it to automate the heretofore manual, laborious, highly-prone-to-error spreadsheet calculations. VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 were game-changers because they helped their users streamline this necessary task, resulting in higher revenue/profit (i.e., make money). They also helped the software industry coin the term “killer apps.”
We think the release of Apple Watch is one of those rare events where all three of the signs are present.
- The tiny screen size is forcing all developers to rethink if/how their software makes sense on Apple Watch.
- Everyone who wants to write code for Apple Watch will have to learn to program using Swift, WatchKit, and the latest Xcode.
- The following question needs to be answered: A tiny computer on the wrist is so Dick Tracy, but can I use it to make money?
To us, the interesting question is not: How can we do what we do on the desktop/smartphone/tablet on Apple Watch? but: What can’t we do/didn’t make sense to do on the desktop/smartphone/tablet that we can do on Apple Watch? We are on the hunt for the “killer app” for Apple Watch!
Opportunities are presented to us every moment of every day. Some are more well-timed than others, but they are there if we look for them. The arrival of Apple Watch is such an opportunity. We intend on exploiting it to the fullest.