News & Updates

10 Year Journey – One man’s account of the changing world of apps

By Lissa Franklin / Oct 21, 2015

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Two weeks ago I had the honor of attending and speaking at the annual partner conference of Sahara Presentation Systems, one of our customers. They had invited me to do a keynote on both days of the conference and I decided what better way to look at the evolution of apps then to take a step back and look at the last decade through my own personal experiences.

This is of course just a quick summary of my keynote, if you’re interested in hearing the full story feel free to contact me.

2005 - My story starts when I emigrated from the United Kingdom to Canada. However, at this time the only “applications” were ringtones, themes and Java games. Hardly what they are today to say the least.

2006 - I took over a start-up and we created one of the first true apps on BlackBerry devices. We also created it as a client-server app where all the processing and intelligence was done in the cloud! In retrospect, we were pioneering some great stuff. Charging businesspeople $10 per month for our service we were playing in the SaaS market (Software as a Service), long before that was ever being talked about.

2007 - In another first, we raised a round of financing which placed us among the first app companies to do so. In 2007, the world saw a dramatic change with Apple launching the iPhone which nobody ever thought would be a serious competitor to BlackBerry, the choice of business people worldwide.

2008 - We launched our app and service with AT&T, Rogers, and Orange, in the days when carriers were still selling apps via their own app stores. This year also saw another dramatic change with Apple launching the App Store as an extension of iTunes. The 70/30 revenue model was born too. We lobbied RIM (BlackBerry) to create an app store but Mike Laziridis (ex co-CEO of RIM) infamously said there was only one app – email – and RIM had it covered so there was no need to copy Apple. But lo and behold…

2009 - BlackBerry App World launched and I was there to witness it. However by this time free apps and “freemium” apps were becoming hugely popular, so for developers it was a race to the bottom and a race to make money somehow. This popular trend did not escape the BlackBerry App World and our business customers were becoming increasingly resistant to paying for our service so a free version was launched to get users hooked. It worked and on occasions we saw popularity rise higher than that of PayPal and Foursquare even. This year also saw Google launch a phone with a new operating system…Android.

2010 - My company was acquired by Wmode, who wanted to pivot away from the carrier app store market into the “app economy” as it was being called by then. BusinessWeek had a front page analysis of the new app phenomenon.

2011 - Within Wmode we launched a new business called AppCarousel targeted at this new market. Our mission:

  • To enable smart device manufacturers to have their own app ecosystems
  • To help developers get their apps discovered and distributed
  • To help everyone make money from apps
  • To become a sheriff in the wild west of apps (as it was becoming by then)

2012 - As AppCarousel we quickly started winning significant deals, helping blue chip companies realize their app ecosystems.

2013 - We were chosen by Jaguar Land Rover as their Tier 1 cloud app provider, and the reality of the “connected car” exemplified how far the app market had come in just a few short years. Apps weren’t confined to smartphones and tablets any more, and the Internet of Things was born (of which a car is definitely a member of the IoT family of devices)

2014 – My company AppCarousel was acquired by AppDirect, the world’s leading powerhouse for the app economy, and with this another chapter of my story begins within my new AppDirect family. AppDirect has gone on to raise over $200 million and has a huge valuation that shows that apps, SaaS, cloud and e-commerce are now serious business. Only 10 years ago were apps just a twinkle in my eye.