"On the positive, I like your presentation but on the negative your business model will not work." was the feedback I received in 2008 around our then notion of Business Portal Server (BPS) from a Venture Capitalist (VC). BPS was to be an online SaaS service to allow end users to easily install applications – a.k.a an App Store in 2010 speak.
I recently found a post on ZD Net by Larry Dignan, where IDC projects global IT spending will be $1.6 trillion in 2011, it will shift from hardware to software and there will be 25 billion app downloads in 2011.
The Apple App Store is the most famous but Google is not apparently too far away from releasing its Chrome Web Store.
I still look back when I see articles mentioned like the ones above and think "What if?". Why? For your comparison, I’m including screen shots of what our prototype BPS solution looked like (from late 2007) with a current screen shot for the latest Google’s Chrome Web Store.
The difference is that we embedded our solution inside IBM WebSphere Portal (as at 2007/2008) where as the Google solution, I understand will be embedded inside the Google Chrome web browser.
The question I often ask myself is, where did we (or was it I) go wrong? What did I learn? We could have been early movers in this whole App Store space after all. However, the technology issues did not appear to be a major concern. It was finding Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to work with us, as well as a supporting innovation cluster to assist us through the process. I’ve written before about the difficulty of finding them – Ideal ISVs for Cloud hosted SaaS but there was also the issue of critical mass to pull them to us. After all one reason that the Apple App Store does so well for ISVs is that the customers are there. The customers don’t need to independently find the ISV’s applications on different websites, they also to some degree can trust the application because it has been vetted by a trusted source. More importantly, they don’t need to setup or establish an account with every individual ISV thus it reduces the barriers to buying.
Now the VC, that I mentioned at the start of this article, had told me our business model would not work in 2008, because the internet was about disinter-mediation and not about new aggregation points (ie App Stores) that would form new channels. Yet in 2010 and beyond it is these very aggregation points and channels that is driving innovation and this IDC projection of 25 Billion App downloads in 2011.