Indie Apps and the future of tech

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Something interesting is happening in the world of apps. Well, let’s chalk that one up as the understatement of the decade: lots and lots of interesting things are happening in the world of apps (including our upcoming app, which – we guarantee – will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Oh, yeah – we’ve got a game-changer on our hands, folks).

Something that caught our beady eye in particular this week, however, was this story in the Sydney Morning Herald. An Australian man named Craig Barber has been causing a fuss with the success of his iPhone/iPad app ‘Car Audio Deck.’ It’s a beautifully simple (and socially responsible) idea – it provides a huge, no-frills interface so that people aren’t distracted when simultaneously switching their in-car music and driving. It has sold by the bucketload, losing first place in the app store to only ‘Angry Birds’ in certain territories.

So: man designs useful app, becomes a success story. Nothing overly unique about that, one might think. But what really resonates here is that Craig is not a designer by any stretch of the imagination – just a guy with an idea who wanted to put it into practice.

The article reveals:

Barber is one of a number of entrepreneurs who outsource the computer programming of their technology ideas online. His music app, Car Audio Deck, was funded $US6360 by backers on crowd-funding website and made by a Chinese woman he’s never met who bid $US2500 on outsourcing site to make his idea come to life.

Now – this is undeniably something very interesting, and a telltale sign of where certain parts of the app industry will be heading next. The original late-70s/early-80s computer boom required a certain degree of tech-savvy to succeed – Bill Gates may be a worldwide business behemoth now, but let’s not forget that he started out slaving away in his garage as a dedicated code-monkey. Similarly, the early days of the app store influx required a huge familiarity with programming to create something sellable.

Craig’s story is a new chapter in all this – proof that with the collaborative crowd-sourced business model that a lot of online outfits are offering, a budding entrepreneur can make spectacular dividends on an initial investment of a few thousand dollars. Not that a few thousand dollars is chump change, but when that amount of money allows an app to compete with multi-million selling global brands in an instant, all the clocks are definitely pointing to ‘watershed moment.’

What are we seeing here, then? In short – the beginning of a new indie aesthetic. Just as labels like Noise Pop and Rough Trade have developed business models which pay their own way, developers of smaller apps are now getting in on the act. Think of it like this – a large, corporately-funded app is the equivalent of something like Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ (million-dollar investment, superstar global smash) whereas a smaller indie app would be something like Fugazi’s ‘Repeater’ (toned-down, bare-bones, minimal production cost yet no less exciting for it). The best thing? There’s a place for both to co-exist.

How about you guys out there in Internet-land? Do you think you have the ingenuity – even if you don’t have the programming know-how – to become the next app wizard?

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