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Let a million software apps bloom

There was a time when you bought music in CDs, and it was the same with software. Then, things changed. Now, you download music, and drag and drop songs in folders.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2009 21:13 IST
Narayan Madhavan

There was a time when you bought music in CDs, and it was the same with software. Then, things changed. Now, you download music, and drag and drop songs in folders. You can get songs streaming from Websites, and then you can buy just one song instead of being compelled to buy whole albums.

Guess what? More or less the same thing is happening to software applications. And, with the explosion in social media sites like Facebook and the ability of Internet sites to “interact” with one another in a live broadband environment, the potential to create, use, buy and distribute software applications and play around with live data is enormous. And Apple’s iPhone and Facebook have inspired a cult of independent applications.

Meetings with Microsoft and Google executives last week brought me closer to this revolution on the Web. The fact is that companies like Google, Microsoft and Oracle have already gone a long way in this. They specialise in highly advanced computer science and are creating platforms, tools and environments which developers can use. They also provide data storage, traffic management, security and financial processes.

I had my “Aha!” moment when I met Dr. Prasad Ram, head of Google India’s Research and Development team. He was talking about various mass-oriented things like Indian language translation and transliteration, but what turned me on was his reference to how Google is providing a Web-based easy-to-do environment where software developers can create end-user applications easily, and even sell and distribute them. Think of it like a Blogger platform for developers.

A quick visit to Google’s App Spot (http://www.appspot.com or http://appengine.google.com) gives an idea of how this is like an easy site for any developer. And then, if you visit the App Gallery (http://appgallery.appspot.com) it shows an array of applications you can use or buy.

I found a wide variety of applications for things such as GPS (geographical positioning system), options trading in stocks, gifting through social sites, logo design, calorie counting, and even one called Twitnest using which those who microblog on Twitter.com can find out who is following whose feeds!

A day earlier, I had met Rajan Anandan, managing director at Microsoft India, who told me how his company was setting up a similar “cloud” environment for developers (Of course, Microsoft has historically had a great army of independent developers and ‘solution partners’ but this makes it more open and flexible).

Meanwhile, delivering a keynote at the Intel Developers’ Forum in San Francisco, Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini also launched an Intel Atom Developer Programme inviting third party programmers to create new software for its Atom line of microchips.

Oracle was talking about something similar last week in a Delhi round-table.

Clearly, it is an open-season for a million applications to bloom. The thing to watch: how live data from sites and cool applications appear on Web pages making many things a lot easier for you.