The App Bubble

bubble burstI well remember the first Internet Bubble. Companies were being formed right and left. You could get millions of dollars of funding for quite literally an idea scratched out on the back of the napkin. It did not matter how silly the idea seamed and few questions as to any actual business model. If it was cool, that was enough and everyone was sure they would figure out a way to make money eventually. Of course that’s why they call it a bubble. Bubbles are temporary and unstable. The Internet Bubble popped  and all of Silicon Valley imploded with it. I was there and it was ugly.

I can’t help but feeling we are inflating a new bubble, an app bubble. Cell phones are now smart phones, handheld computers really and a vast wave of applications are being developed for them. There are  getting to be too many apps and they are getting a little silly. Witness Dryer Bro, an application that tells you when your dryer load is done. You have to put your iphone down on the dryer and the accelerometer determines when the shaking has stopped and sends a text message to, well, your iphone which is sitting on the dryer. Actually the app says it sends a text to a group of “bros” you determine so I guess they can go get your laundry…or tell you that it’s done. You can see, this is where apps have jumped the shark. In the coming Internet of Things you don’t think dryers and washers will notify us of their status themselves? Seriously, where is the business model? The core killer technology? There’s just no there there. TechCrunch reviewed this app and gave it a rave review. Remember when we all bought into that Pets.com and Webvan were surely going to be the next great thing?

Apps are all the rage but many of them are just dumb or terrible. There will be another popping of this app bubble soon and it will be a good and cleansing thing. As the popping of the Internet Bubble shook the industry back into the reality of serious ideas and real business models so will the app bubble pop clear out the apps based on, dare I say, nothing but air? Hopefully we will be left with fewer apps that are more valuable and backed by solid technology.