Hayley Tsukayama in the Washington Post writes about The Big Takeaway for Gadget Nerds in 2016".
much of the innovation in the technology world of late has been in software — the thing about apps, streaming music and streaming video is that they manage to revolutionize devices that we already have.
The pace of hardware innovation seems to be slowing down as more and more people have more and more of the new devices. But apps are only just getting started. iPhone and other smartphones changed much of our lives, and credit is often given (quite rightly) to Apple and Steve Jobs. But that credit is shared with many others.
The greatest innovation from Cupertino isn't those devices: rather, it's the App Store that only showed up a year after the iPhone was launched. Just as hardware manufacturing is highly automated, the App Store is incredibly automated all the way from the software development to the end-user purchase. Thanks to this App Store automation and disintermediation at every step of the app development and sales processes, indie developers around the world have found customers for their ideas. This has been a dream for decades (it was part of the OpenDoc dream in the 1990s), but it now is a reality.
If you think about what the software development and marketing environment was like before the App Store and its apps, it's hard to appreciate the differences. Want a word processsing program? It can be yours in it's shrink-wrapped carton for $400 or more. Along the way, the shrink-wrapped package printing and shipping has disappeared along with some of the software bloat that started to creep in -- possibly to help cover the basic costs of production, printing, and shipping.
Yes, there are many other causes and consequences to consider, but for end-users and developers (particulary my fellow indie developers), things look rosy. There will always be blockbusters, but there's now a clear path for focused and niche players.