After a few weeks of getting peppered with emails about application creation portals, I caved in and decided to try a couple. Why not? I’m a pretty tech-savvy guy, and there have been times when I just can’t find what I think I’m looking for in either the Android Market or Apple’s App Store. So rather than stay wanting, I opted to try to build my own apps. And, so far, I must say the results aren’t that impressive.
Let’s explore the app back story a bit before I embarrass myself. If you follow any contemporary media at all, it’s a common perception that IT in general is being commoditized. BYOD is becoming mainstream lexicon, and when you bring your own devices to the enterprise, it is to use applications on those devices. As was the case with the evolution of laptops, it doesn’t take long before the mobile device is seen as far less valuable than the programs and data on the device. And, boy, are there a lot of apps out there these days, enabled by dozens of tool sets that let you roll your own for personal use or to share.
Now back to me and my less-than-crackerjack app building. I’ve developed halfway-decent websites in the past, I’m reasonably artistic, and I like to create. Combine those attributes with my technical side, and I should be the Mack Daddy of the app do-it-yourselfers, right? So I thought, until I realized I lack one key ingredient--focus.
I’ve got a few game favorites, and no desire to dream up my own. I was able to base a couple of apps on personal websites, photo collections or blogs, and they were cool for the first 30 seconds before the thrill wore off. I racked my brain for what sort of productivity app I needed, whether for personal use or business, for either my iPhone, iPad or Droid. Other than weird stuff for ham radio, I feel silly admitting that I really couldn’t come up with an application worth putting development cycles into. Not that most of the app development tools out there don’t make it pretty easy to get to where you want to be, but without a real goal, each build felt a bit like accomplishing a parlor trick.
Despite my lack of inspiration, at least a couple of the voices in my head tell me that if I were a sales manager, or a physicist, or a search and rescue worker, or a sailor, or the manager of several technicians, or an HR bigwig, I would certainly have specific needs that I could turn into apps and perhaps even "monetize" by selling to others with the same need. But building apps just for the sake of building them? It turns out that it’s just not my thing.
At the same time, I would recommend that everyone kick the tires on a few app building tools. It is fascinating to see how they come together, even if it’s just for making your own low-visibility personal website gain new life on your smartphone. A whole market niche is out there, giving you free power to build simple apps and charging fair prices for templates and mechanisms for more advanced apps. But you gotta have a need and inspiration, or cool tools don’t amount to much.