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The Inconceivable App Store

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“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”

– Inigo Montoyo in The Princess Bride

I love that movie. Over and over Vizzini declares “Inconceivable” whatever he doesn’t understand. Almost as many times as a sales rep uses the word “absolutely” in a road map discussion.

Lately I keep reading about this or that vendor envisions an “app store” for their product or platform. They keep using that word. Almost none of them get it.

There are probably other distinctions but these are the ones that bother me the most. An app store is not an app store if it does not have these qualities

  • Someone other than the platform vendor creates AND OWNS the intellectual property.
  • The app creator directly benefits financially from what it delivers.
  • Real people choose what they want from it – not geeks or IT gatekeepers
  • It delivers complete things, not frameworks or toolkits

App stores are a business model that conflicts with most legacy enterprise software licensing structures. They don’t simply exist to promote the use of a platform though that is what motivates most to talk about them. The real secret of their success is inconceivable to the reigning enterprise software bureaucracy. They allow other people to make money from the platform.

But aren’t many apps free? Hardly. Free apps are a myth. Almost all are subsidized through advertising. What enterprise IT hasn’t yet realized is that there are billions of dollars that can be generated in virtual IT spending by maximizing the impact of advertising to fund their technology needs. Not without risk to be sure but it is money on the table.

It is happening anyway as freemium services subsidize their entrance into the enterprise market with advertising dollars. Traditional enterprise vendors want an app store – think they need one – but they really don’t know why. At the most superficial level they want to be cool like Apple.  What they really need to do is redevelop their business models around third party funding of technology in their customers.

In an effort to be cool vendors set up exchanges which are good in their own right. They are a very useful way to distribute best practices, drive adoption, etc. But then somebody wrongly dubs them app stores and suddenly they think they have arrived. It is annoying and totally missing the point.

Inconceivable.

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2 Responses »

  1. Good post.

    Platform + Application + Support + Governance = Enterprise Solution.

    Platform + Application + no Support + no Governance = Consumer Solution

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