Apple WWDC & Google I/O drive new commandments for the digital age

The Apple and Google developer conferences are behind us. News from these events illustrate we live in exciting times. Despite some unsuccessful bets, all major technology companies are showing impressive gains on an annual basis. Consumers benefit from new products and features, the development community from enormous investments in robust public cloud platforms, organisations from leveraging new ecosystems.

When we look at the existing technologies and practices in the average organisation and compare it to the new realities, it looks like many are riding on a steam engine train whereas the technology world has boarded a TGV. Furthermore, the trains have left the platform and the distance between the two is growing by the day.

So here are some new commandments if you don't want to lose out in this race.


The Apple and Google developer conferences are behind us. News from these events illustrate we live in an exciting period of accelerating innovation. As consumers, we benefit from shiny new products with fascinating features, coming out of the new factories of the 21st century. At an apparantly ever increasing speed. For example, the user interface was revolutionised only recently -changing from clicking and typing to touching- to go multimodal soon when voice will augment the graphical interface. Natural language understanding is improving at a rapid pace enabled by impressive investments and improvements in AI.

During Apple's WWDC this week, Horace Dediu of Asymco posted his updated time series describing the size and development speed of the Apple Ecosystem - resonating evidence of exponential growth curves:

  • The number of iOS app installs has now reached 130 billion;
  • The iOS app download speed just continues to increase - it's currently above 30 billion per year (a staggering 80,000,000+ per day);
  • This success continues to attract more developers - last year the registered Apple developer community grew by yet another 18%.

Other numbers also demonstrate how these major technnology companies are setting trends that extend beyond our mobile phones. Apple transacts a formidable $35 billion annually from its apps. In the same post, Horace Dediu estimates that the entire iOS ecosystem revenues are at least $250 billon per year - by including the revenues of all mobile services that run on top of iOS and which transact outside of the Apple systems, like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Uber.

To illustrate how gigantic the shift is to mobile, Benedict Evans posted yesterday: "a little over 4x more people own an ARM/iOS/Android computer than own an x86/Windos/Mac one". Heralding the decline of earlier devices and ecosystems. Mobile data traffic grew 60% last year and today's teens are streaming natives. Mobile devices have seduced us to switch from (costly) calling and texting to (gratis) chatting and have become our primary devices in many customer journeys and for reading (two thirds) of our mails:

Emails-Opened-by-Device - Edited.jpg
A chart from MovableInk showing that about two thirds of all emails in the US are opened on mobile devices. In the latest report with Q3 2015 data the share of mobile devices was 67%.

In yesterday's post, Horace Dediu also estimated that Apple's market share among professional and hobbyist developers may be as high as 70%. Developers are empowered to build great apps whilst they can leverage the investments in hardware, software, services and marketing made by the technology giants - and at the same time earn good financial returns. It is no surprise that consumer IT is encroaching the enterprise vendor ecosystem.

So what are some of the new commandments for organisations that don't want to lose out in this race?

  • Tech-oligopolies that have emerged from the last century are being challenged by a new order of small, very innovative companies. No doubt many will disappear or be acquired, but they are all building on enterprise grade public cloud platforms. Therefore you shall excommunicate religiously held views of best practices for (out)sourcing and vendor management and you shall explore terra incognita.
     
  • As none of the new tech giants can be bothered to make more efficient what isn't effective anymore (to paraphrase Peter Drucker) you shall question and monitor how the existing enterprise clergy will (continue to) change course and deliver different solutions for the new reality. If they don't accelerate change, they will become increasingly marginalised and you shall leave their churches in time.
     
  • To code or not to code, that's the question. The excruciating pains of the ERP-era have indoctrinated today's managers to ban any custom coding. As new technologies change the rules of the game, you shall challenge this dominant doctrine and explore new ones. And its missionaries shall be heard and given room to experiment and try to create new sources of competitive advantage and business value.
     
  • You shall build your new applications on a new liturgy, with principles such as mobile first and with shortened life cycles for tools, including the architectural bibles. Sticking to existing beliefs, or only adopting the new truths superficially will widen the gap at increasing speed with those who can adapt. Agile and devops better not be the emperor's new clothes, when it's time to do your confessions.
     
  • You shall experiment and learn, but not reinvent the wheel. Even the largest companies reuse field proven Open Source components and work with robust practices and Open Source communities that respectfully share and learn. The opportunities are even greater now with available API's for AI algorithms, voice, image and natural language understanding that enable customers to interact naturally with your apps.
     
  • On a broader scale, your organisation shall develop positive learning cycles from experimentation and failure. Organised anarchy shall become the new dogma with new rules that aren't considered blasphemic. As an example, read Jeff Bezos thoughts on how to become and stay an invention machine. You shall reconsider the existing catechesis of (working with) best practices.

When we look at the existing technologies and practices in the average organisation and compare it to the new realities, it looks like many are riding on a steam engine train whereas the technology world has boarded a TGV. Furthermore, the trains have left the platform and the distance between the two is growing by the day.