Marco’s hideout

tech, mountainbiking, cyclocross, politics, tattoos, photography, 8-bit computers and more

Develop in the iCloud

Fortune has done a survey among WWDC 2011 attendees, and the results are somewhat unsurprising, at least for me.

Since we're on an Apple event, 100% of the developers prefer to develop for iOS. Big d'oh of course. But 47% of the developers also develop for Android, so it would be nice to know what their reasoning is behind the iOS preference. That is shown in the next results, everyone thinks the iOS platform is best for monetization and is also easiest to develop for.

When the attendees were asked which platform had the highest potential for future growth, no-one mentioned BB OS, WebOS or Symbian. That's somewhat surprising. So they did mention WM7 (9%) and Android (40%). Is WebOS dead in the water before it even gets a chance? We all know the issues regarding RIM and their BlackBerry OS, so it's not really surprising no-one sees much in it anymore. It has always been a nightmare to develop for. Symbian, well, especially with the Microsoft-Nokia deal, this may just as well be killed right away. 

Supposedly only 7% develop for Mac. In the press, this is often regarded that the Mac is losing developers in favor of the mobile platforms. Well, maybe, but if you check the results to the same results for the WWDC in 2008, you notice that there were hardly any mobile developers around. Since in 2008, the first "real" iPhone, the 3G was announced together with, quite important, the iPhone SDK. Remember the year before, where Jobs stated that webapps would be enough? Well, 2008 he turned things around. And only then, iOS development took off. 
So, no, I don't think the Mac is losing developers. Yet.

However, these statistics and the fact that Jobs declared the computer/Mac as "just a device" for iCloud, got me thinking. Maybe, in the not to far future, developing for the platforms(*) will no longer require this huge XCode environment. The XCode environment could be trimmed to an absolute minimum if it was tied to iCloud. The SDKs would be in the cloud, so would be your libraries and other components needed for development. Only downloading components when requested (e.g. if you are going offline for some time), but even the building stage could take place in the iCloud itself. 
Making the distribution very easy too. It's already in the iCloud. No more downloading of keys and all this complicated stuff. Just mark the app as "release" and in the iCloud, everything will be done for you, including distribution to the iTunes Appstore.

Going further: maybe you wouldn't need a Mac to develop anymore. Now, the Mac is your developer center, but if everything happens in the iCloud, you may just as well use an iPad. Maybe not for the big UI stuff, where screen estate is important, but for code, it's not a bad idea. 

I think we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg at the moment. These Apple data centers seem overkill for just some media storage.. I bet there is a lot more coming.

(*) I intentionally state "platforms". At the moment, iOS and Mac OS X are two separate branches. I don't think that will last forever. My personal take on this is that iOS and Mac OS X will merge into one Apple OS. And this will happen when the OS X is near the end of its life time. Maybe there will be an OS X 10.8, but I think after that, both will be merged into one OS. Why maintain two branches which partly overlap? One OS for all Devices (remember what Jobs said), with features that are enabled/disabled depending on the hardware - note that this is already happening in iOS.