Apple’s Brush Fire

I wrote this in August 2012:

I just spent a few days camping in the middle of no where in central Oregon. … The forests in which we stayed are decades if not centuries old and over that time period the trees have grown quite large. We saw some that had to be 200 to 300 feet tall. But those trees form a canopy and that canopy keeps rain and sun from getting to the forest floor, snuffing out new trees in the process. Eventually, though, these trees die and fall over [whether due to age, fire, or some other natural event]. Not only does sun and rain get to the forest floor but these trees are stock-full of nutrients that new sprouts use to grow. These fallen monsters are called nurse logs.

Marco Arment, in one of the best posts he ever wrote, believes iOS 7 is the brush fire we need to revitalize iOS development:

The App Store is crowded: almost every common app type is well-served by at least one or two dominant players. They’ve been able to keep their leads by evolving alongside iOS: when the OS would add a new API or icon size, developers could just add them incrementally and be done with it. Established players only became more established.

iOS 7 is different. It isn’t just a new skin: it introduces entirely new navigational and structural standards far beyond the extent of any previous UI changes. Existing apps can support iOS 7 fairly easily without looking broken, but they’ll look and feel ancient.

I have to admit I was feeling down after last Monday’s keynote. The fundamental shift was apparent to me even at a glance and I knew we were stuck between the old design and interactivity paradigms of iOS 6, paradigms perfectly represented in powerOne, and the new vision for iOS 7.

At the same time powerOne calculator is an aging product that, mostly due to app store dynamics, has not been a cash flow positive endeavor but a product nonetheless that we love and have supported for over a decade. I felt trapped: sticking with the old design and interactivity decisions in the current version of powerOne or investing a lot of time and effort into a product that doesn’t pay for one developer, let alone the small company we are.

Then I read Marco’s post and it reminded me that all things that die sprout new life, that this change isn’t just an opportunity to present powerOne again, but also make some fundamental changes that makes it more valuable to both you and me. Back to Marco:

This big of an opportunity doesn’t come often — we’re lucky to see one every 3–5 years. Anyone can march right into an established category with a huge advantage if they have the audacity to be exclusively modern.

I’ll be invading one as soon as I can. Here’s hoping I’m right.

Disrupt or be disrupted. I hear you, Marco, and I’m following right behind you.