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Ask Slashdot: Preparing For the 'App Bubble' To Pop? 240

Niris writes "I am currently a senior in computer science, and am expecting to graduate in December. I have an internship lined up in Android development with medium sized company that builds apps for much larger corporations, and I have recently begun a foray into iOS development. So far my experience with Android ranges from a small mobile game (basically Asteroids), a Japanese language study aid, and a fairly large mobile app for a local non-profit that uses RSS feeds, Google Cloud Messaging and various APIs. I have also recently started working with some machine learning algorithms and sensors/the ADK to start putting together a prototype for a mobile business application for mobile inspectors. My question: is my background diverse enough that I don't have to worry about finding a job if all the predictions that the 'app bubble' will pop soon come true? Is there another, similar area of programming that I should look into in order to have some contingencies in place if things go south? My general interests and experience have so far been in mobile app development with Java and C++ (using the NDK), and some web development on both the client and server side. Thank you!"
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Ask Slashdot: Preparing For the 'App Bubble' To Pop?

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  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @07:38PM (#43343403) Homepage Journal
    Mobile app bubble
    Professional stubble
    For who will browse jack
    Amid the economic rubble?
    Burma Shave
  • by yincrash ( 854885 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @07:43PM (#43343445)
    I'm not sure it is. Maybe I'm biased because I am employed as an Android developer, but both Android and iOS developers are both incredibly in demand right now. Every brand wants or has an app, and every webapp needs a native mobile counterpart to be taken seriously. Weren't the app bubble predictions back in 2010? I don't think they hold any water any more. Mobile is the future and isn't going anywhere.
    • by Prof.Phreak ( 584152 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @07:52PM (#43343539) Homepage

      You listed exactly the reasons everyone thinks it's a bubble... you can't usually see such things coming, and it seems impossible that the well could dry up instantly... and yet it often does. (e.g. rewind your reasons to year 2000... ``Every brand wants or has [a web] app''...)

      • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:11PM (#43343697)

        OK, so there was a .com bubble, that burst about the year 2000. So web developers haven't had any jobs for the last dozen years.

        Except they have. Apart from the general world wide woes of a poor economy since 2008, web developers are still developing. There might have been a tech stock bubble, that made a bunch of people very rich over a short time, and then most of them very poor again. But the internet didn't go away. And nearly every business needs a presence.

        As to the intern, he shouldn't worry. App development isn't going away, and even if it did the skills are very transferable.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:52PM (#43343941)

          Think back to that dot-com bubble. What actually dried up? Wasn't it the get-rich-quick VC money thrown at startups? The demand for the product (web sites) didn't go away. Just the retarded pie-in-the-sky, brain-dead ideas and money-grubbing schemers. Those with a working business model (Amazon? Google?) are still around and are stronger than ever.

          Fast forward to the latest bubble (mobile apps), and you'll soon find the same story. There's a bubble: everybody and their dog jumped on the mobile app bandwagon back in 2008. That bubble was short-lived, but it started a larger bubble. Now, think back to pre-dot-com days. There was a small bubble in the mid/late 90's, then there was the huge bubble in 1999 and 2000. We're riding that huge bubble right now. This too shall pop.

          It only takes a quick glance at the Play Store to realize that there are a shit-ton of shitty apps made by sketchy companies that probably won't exist in a year. Most of them have manuals (and text resources) in Engrish.

          Note to foreign developers: if you want me to load your app onto my phone (presumably for your profit), learn proper grammar and spelling for my language or hire someone who already knows it. My mom plays a Bejeweled clone that tells her "no more move" when she's run out of moves.

          Thus, a bubble. And these developers will be looking for other work soon. (And before you label me a xenophobe, I don't even claim to speak anything other than en-US. Note that. I don't claim to, much less represent that as a professional skill.)

          • Ther are 6 billion people of which 0.3 live in the USA. Imagine the sheer number of bad translations from English to the 30 or so widely spoken languages. None of the make the software bad, just a tad annoying.

          • There is nothing wrong with "no more move".

          • by Genda ( 560240 )

            As I recall it, the bubble was the result of 8 years of William Clinton pumping insane amounts of money (through critical tax sheltering) into high tech, specifically information technologies. This caused an explosion of new technology and a parallel explosion in technological hype and tech fantasy bovine feces. Come 2000, a certain President Shrub, and his oily cohorts pulled the plug on Silicon Valley. In fact his good buddies at Enron cooked up a rotating black out scheme that sucked 18 billion dollars o

        • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

          After the .com bubble, the jobs got outsourced to India.

          If you weren't in the job market to catch the y2k bug, you were cutting your teeth in a down market. Some programmers slogged it out making crap wages, (esp. Web Developers) many programmers never got a gig and jumped into IT, only to see massive outsourcing to Brazil, many got burnt out and jumped to a different field. Eventually some programmers got on the new wave of mobile app development.

          When the daily innovation slows in the app sphere, I e

      • by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:36PM (#43343845)
        1-New economies grow quickly, especially when they are replacing something else (like desktops). The mobile space (phones, pads) is new so it's growing. once the market matures it will slow down. 2-Never put your backup plan in the same basket as your primary one. If something is easy to switch to from apps then everyone will do it, and you'' be swamped with competition.
      • you can't usually see such things coming

        The Internet bubble was obvious. Other bubbles through time, have been very obvious - the only thing not obvious was the point of collapse, not if they would collapse.

        There is no "App Bubble". The truth is that going forward, way more people are going to be using tablets and smartphones than use or used computers. Understanding any of the mobile platforms and how to make the most of them is a greatly valued skill, and will only increase.

        The other aspect as others h

      • it just got easier to write the apps, and India programers got common. And Malaysian programmers. And Spain, Greece, Mexico. You got outsourced. Whine all you want about "quality", but you can't compete with people living for 1/100 your cost. It's also tough to compete with people who've never had anything bad happen to them in their lives. Survival bias. When you've got so many programmers you get to pick and choose those one.

        But the bubble isn't gone. There's 100 million android devices. They need so
    • I agree with you. The app bubble if it existed popped a while back. Mobile development is where it is at. I also feel we have only scratched the surface of what is possible. The real problem we have right now and hopefully open source will be able to fix this, is that we have information and api silo's. We have a dropbox API, we have an amazon API, we have a google API, and the list goes on.

      I am not saying that we will be sharing and free love with the data. I am more saying, that in the future google data

      • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:21PM (#43344073)

        Things didn't burst, they changed. In 2010-2011, when Apple started allowing in-app purchases, the fundamental nature of apps changed.

        Before that, an app could cost 99 cents, additional levels and such would be in another app.

        In-app purchases changed games fundamentally, just like DLC changed the console. Now, games are free. However, if one wants levels, additional items, or other things, there is the store, and prices for in-game things can even go to C-note level or higher. Games went from having a difficulty level that was meant for most people to complete to one that was noticably harder, in order to force people to buy some in-game currency or items to make it easier.

        Take the average tower defense game. A couple bucks got you a decent shooter. Now, it might be free, but each tower now costs 1-2 bucks to unlock, each additional level might cost something, another powerup to help with getting currency is a few bucks, and the level difficulty is scaled where someone has to buy the "uber-nuke" one-time use item in order to win a level.

        Utilities have followed this path. In the past, you bought a photo editing program (for example). Now, the program is free, but each tool costs a buck. Want a yellow filter? 99 cents. Want crop capability? 99 cents. Ability to save? $4.99.

        • Meanwhile, the old dogs who braved the rise and fall of the stand up arcades, with their quarter pumping antics, are still making games just as they always have. You'll pay a one time fee. It'll be between $2 and $20 depending on the game and content, and you get to play it at your leisure with no worry about when the "in-app-purchase server" (read: always online DRM) will have the plug pulled.

          The change was digital distribution, son. Instead of sneaker-net or mailing disks in plastic baggies, I can p

        • How does this change anything fundamentally? At best, it lets developers squeeze a few more dollars from customers. But it's not the gravy train that they hope. So I can buy in-game upgrades in exchange for real cash in your game, woot! What makes you think I'll do that for your game, as opposed to the 20 other games with in-app purchases available? Consumable "smurf coin" style in-app purchases is dependent on a constant supply of clueless, typically 8 year old users. Soon even they will wise up (my 7-year

    • Creating apps is easy- making money at it is hard- and that's the reason it is a bubble. You need a LOT of volume to make money off of 99 cent applications.

      • It is possible to be employed by a company and do android development. Making your own 99ct apps is not the only way to make a living.
        • That company doing app development had other employees to pay besides developers. Also overhead, workers comp, unemployment taxes, business personal property taxes, Obamacare, etc. etc. All of which means they have to bring in at least four times as much revenue per developer compared to someone doing it from home. The company structure, with business taxes and regulations, makes it a lot HARDER, not easier.
          • That company doing app development had other employees to pay besides developers. Also overhead, workers comp, unemployment taxes, business personal property taxes, Obamacare, etc. etc. All of which means they have to bring in at least four times as much revenue per developer compared to someone doing it from home. The company structure, with business taxes and regulations, makes it a lot HARDER, not easier.

            By that logic, it is a lot harder for Apple to make money than somebody developing an app in their basement and selling it for 99 cents. Businesses that are already established have various revenue streams, working from home developing cheap apps, means you don't. Businesses do have to pay various taxes, but so do you, working from home.

            It is much easier for your local bank to higher a programmer to produce a banking app than it is for you to freelance and develop your own banking app. The only genre that

          • That's only true if you're trying to sell the app. With other software, 90% is written in house and not for sale as off-the-shelf software. This is why open source is so attractive to a lot of companies: it lowers their costs, but it doesn't cannibalise the market that's actually profitable for them. The same is true for mobile apps. There is a limited demand for knock-over-the-castle or tower-defence games, but a lot of companies are going to want workflow and stock control apps tailored to their speci
        • by marnues ( 906739 )
          Yes, definitely. It's not glamorous, but support apps are huge. By that I mean apps that support a business model, rather than being the business model. My company builds free mobile apps that work with our hardware. We will continue to support the apps as long as the hardware is bringing in the money. And boy, do they bring in the money.
    • Convergence is the future, apps and sites that work on any platform. Efforts like Bootstrap which for most projects are taking a mallet to a mosquito are nonetheless a sign of things to come. Apps don't have the ability in and of themselves to store a whole lot of data, nor should they, but bigger iron does, and if you can access and manipulate data from one device you should be able to do it from another in the same way.

      I'm very excited about the peer to peer developments in browsers as well as webGL, for

      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:32PM (#43343821)
        Convergence is the past, IMHO. Prior to the iPhone, mobile developers tended to resist the idea of custom development for specific platforms. The idea was to use Java everywhere, or some semblance of the Windows API, and to use markup languages to let the client determine presentation. Then Apple said, "screw it, we're going to optimize everything for end users on this specific platform, and let content developers and code developers cope." And it worked. With Metro, Windows is still pursuing unification, and it's (still) not working. Not unlike the transition of Unix to the PC era, which never did work out. (OSX owes practically nothing to Unix at the UI level). And Web Standards bodies are mostly ignored now. Cross-platform applications are almost always beat out by native ones. All somewhat sad, but again, true IMHO.
        • (OSX owes practically nothing to Unix at the UI level).

          I'm not so certain about that. The most important part of the OSX UI for my daily work looks something like:

          ~ femtobyte [482] $

          • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

            You are a near-sighted idiot. Terminal is one program of many that are part of OS X. As the GP wrote, practically nothing.

    • by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:11PM (#43343689)

      That's the strange thing about economic bubbles. You'll see a crazy trend with crazy demand, and it may even sit that way for a long time, and just when you think it is a genuine shift in trends rather than a bubble, it pops. In 1995 some observers saw what they believed to be a tech bubble. 1998 passed, and it was still there. Some economists believed that the business cycle had come to an end (e.g. no more cycles - just consistent sustained growth) due to how far reaching the tech industry was. And what do you know, in 2000 growth stops, and shortly after it pops because it turns out that most players in the tech industry didn't actually have a viable business model (I remember a lot of them were ad driven - e.g. this company makes money by selling ads to that company, which sells ads to another company...) Clearly Bush's fault.

      Same thing with the housing bubble, which some were observing as a bubble in 2003, and it took all the way until 2008 before it finally popped. Only since the housing bubble wasn't as entrenched in nearly as many adjacent industries (the banking industry being a notable exception,) the GDP wasn't artificially propped up so we didn't see the miracle economy with the non-existent business cycle that we had in the late 90's. Gingrich claimed he was a pro at balancing the budget and Clinton claimed to be an economics pro, only neither was true, the revenue stream was just artificially high so it gave them both free bullet points on their resume's.

      As for mobile, I think there's a bit of hype, but I don't think there's a true bubble. It may scale back a bit as once developers have their apps, they could shed some employees because they merely need to maintain the apps rather than write new ones. Note the uncertain terms I'm using. For example, you've got companies like instagram who doesn't appear to have a viable business model other than being backed by facebook. But then again, you could continue to go through the regular process of new companies coming up and needing new apps before they fold, only for a new one to repeat.

      I think as was mentioned earlier though that the mobile sector as a whole is overhyped. You've got people into these shiny new devices, but excitement for them is dying down. Iphones are becoming less popular because it is mostly just incremental upgrades like we saw at the turn of the millennium to 2002 or so, at which point sales sort of leveled off. I predict the same with the Galaxy S4. We'll probably see the sales numbers sit around until the market saturates, and then people will just get to the point that they like sticking with what they have instead of always upgrading. But you ask, how does this effect apps if everybody has a smartphone? One thing I tend to notice, but I don't know if its true because I don't have any numbers (so I could be talking out my ass here) but it seems to me that people tend to do a lot of app shopping when they get a new device. If the waves of new devices stop coming (or rather, the waves of excitement stop,) that might cause the app sales to level off until "the next big thing(TM)".

      • by jafac ( 1449 )

        This - THIS; holy fuck listen to this guy.
        I was there. I remember. "The end of business cycles." "P/E ratios don't mean anything anymore." and the ever popular: "the end of history."

        Companies were given money for the sake of being vehicles for investors' pump-n-dump schemes.

        I think that's happening today too. (though - I seriously can't tell what the fuck is going on with Facebook. They are trying so hard to piss-off their user base and give every competitor every opportunity to eat their lunch

      • by dkf ( 304284 )

        Same thing with the housing bubble, which some were observing as a bubble in 2003, and it took all the way until 2008 before it finally popped. Only since the housing bubble wasn't as entrenched in nearly as many adjacent industries (the banking industry being a notable exception,) the GDP wasn't artificially propped up so we didn't see the miracle economy with the non-existent business cycle that we had in the late 90's. Gingrich claimed he was a pro at balancing the budget and Clinton claimed to be an economics pro, only neither was true, the revenue stream was just artificially high so it gave them both free bullet points on their resume's.

        Maybe not in the US, but in other parts of the world the housing bubble was hugely coupled to the rest of the economy in ways that the tech bubble wasn't. The wreckage in the EU was substantial. What's more, banking was deeply involved in the housing bubble and that's caused (and is still causing) gigantic problems. The terrifying/enraging part is that there are banks saying that they are such a large part of the economy that not only can they not be allowed to fail, they can't be allowed to shrink either,

      • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

        "Same thing with the housing bubble, which some were observing as a bubble in 2003, and it took all the way until 2008 before it finally popped. "

        Still hasn't popped in Canada.

        The market can remain irrational for a very, very long time, especially if the government puts gas on the fire. Some say that Canada dodged the bubble... we'll see what happens.

        The point is that you can't predict these things when you're in them. Sometimes it's a bubble, sometimes it's the opportunity of a lifetime. Sometimes

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      Yikes, "Every brand wants or has an app, and every webapp needs a native mobile counterpart to be taken seriously" sounds like bubbly words to me. Remember when every jack and jill needed a web page of their own? Oh wait... j/k seriously though, with "hundreds of thousands of apps", you'll have to imagine diminishing returns on investment at some point, and when that happens, the pool of employable developers will shrink. How much? Who can tell, certainly not an idle spectator like me. Start recording job s

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:21PM (#43343749)

      Apologies in advance, but I couldn't resist, and it makes the similarities to the last tech bubble glaringly obvious ;)

      I'm not sure it is. Maybe I'm biased because I am employed as a web developer, but both front end and back end developers are both incredibly in demand right now. Every brand wants or has a web site, and every webapp needs a Flash counterpart to be taken seriously. Weren't the dotcom bubble predictions back in 1999? I don't think they hold any water any more. Browsers are the future and aren't going anywhere.

      Instead of an "e-", add an "i-". Otherwise, seen it before. In the end, the "app" market in general, like web sites, aren't going anywhere, but with almost 1M iOS apps and growing, it's going to hit a point of diminishing returns. I have a half dozen apps that are no longer supported and don't even work on the latest iOS devices; it's starting to remind me a bit of the growing graveyard of failed dotcom websites in 2002...

      • I have a half dozen apps that are no longer supported and don't even work on the latest iOS devices

        Mostly that's because they cannot find developers to update them. The app market is no-where near any kind of ceiling in terms of the possible universe of applications.

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          Mostly that's because they cannot find developers to update them.

          Eh, how do you know what apps I have installed? :)

          The current app-rot has little to do with available developers. It's because they were cheap (maybe even free) apps that made no money, have run their semi-useless course, and therefore there is no motivation to continue supporting them. Again just like many unnecessary web sites in 2002...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The more important question, from the economic view, is whether apps are overpriced. Given the number of free and 99 cent apps, and considering that we were used to $200 software titles before, that hardly seems realistic.

      If anything, apps are evidence that the $400 productivity suite bubble has popped.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:51PM (#43344509) Journal

      but both Android and iOS developers are both incredibly in demand right now

      You're describing what traders avoid: buying into a bull market.

      Not that many years ago, web developers were in great demand too. Remember, the last one in becomes toast.

      Now, it's possible that app development will go counter to every other economic sector and stay small and diverse, but it's more probable that in a few years there will be a lot fewer entities making all the apps.

      Weren't the app bubble predictions back in 2010?

      And there were economists warning in 2006 that mortgage-backed securities were headed for a huge crash. But people still bought in because it was still going up. Demand was great, after all. And they got burned (and burned everything down). The warnings were correct, they were just early.

      If your time frame for a career developing apps is very short, then you're OK. If you're forty-something and think it's going to carry you to retirement, you're probably in for a correction.

      Best to do what you like and do what you're good at and don't try to predict the future. Listen to Chuang Tzu for the best career advice:

      "Do not seek fame. Do not make plans. Do not be absorbed by activities. Do not think that you know. Be aware of all that is and dwell in the infinite. Wander where there is no path. Be all that heaven gave you, but act as though you have received nothing. Be empty, that is all."

      • Comparing development cycles to mortgage back securities is a bit dramatic, don't you think. Even with the web developers who were in great demand before that bust, most of them were still in demand, what changed was new people entering the field couldn't get hired. But, if you already were doing great web development and had a could portfolio of your work, you were most likely still employable. All the bubble did was weed out the wannabes from those that were established.

        If there is an app bubble, the same

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @07:43PM (#43343453)

    Programmers should be able to take on a wide variety of tasks. Fortunately, smart phones are not alien space technology with nothing in common with computers. From the point you're at now, you should be able to branch out to things like desktop graphics-based apps and perhaps GPU computing without too much trouble. You should prepare yourself for this *now* so that you don't find yourself scrambling if the smartphone app business doesn't go where you want it to. Remember, what your prof teaches you in college is maybe 10% of what you need to know. (Not kidding, that really is the deal, you should be doing A LOT of coding on your own time in order to learn how to operate without that safety net & get enough patterns stored in your head that you can tackle harder problems in the future.) Good luck!

    • Services (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kramer2718 ( 598033 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:34PM (#43344139) Homepage

      Apps may or may not stick around, but one trend will continue: the increase in service oriented computing [wikipedia.org].

      I.e. computing functionality is being broken down into modular services (usually web services [wikipedia.org]) that are simple enough and independent enough to be easily scaled horizontally but that can be composed in order to provide richer more complex functionality.

      If you understand this architecture, it will help your marketability immensely whether you are writing end user interfaces (such as apps) or building the aforementioned services.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Yeah, I remember last time, when that was called RPC.

  • I I do not believe in "bubble", but in some applications being successful because they are especially suited for the mobile environment, while others will disappear because they are more suitable for a desktop computer. In my work soon I will have both types
  • As people transition more and more of their time to Phones and Tablets, the market for iOS and Android apps will only grow. Was there ever a PC apps bubble? A career in software development isn't about "having diverse skills", its about learning whatever you need to know when you need to know it. Sell yourself as someone who is constantly learning and can pick up anything, and you will never go out of style.
  • by nhtshot ( 198470 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @07:47PM (#43343497) Homepage

    The App bubble has already popped. The only people that make money writing apps are contractors building them for companies that insist they need an app (even though they probably don't...), employees at companies like that drawing a salary, and the 1 in a million that comes up with the ugly meter. Eventually the marketing departments will realize that "Billy Bob's horse feed insurance" doesn't need a mobile app and all of that will dry up pretty quickly.

    If you want to have a long career in development, learn databases. You don't necessarily want to be a DBA since they tend to get tied to a platform and their fortunes rise and fall with it (Foxpro anyone?). But, learn how to manipulate information. There will always be someone willing to pay you to manage their data. Maybe through an application, maybe through an app, maybe through a web interface.

    At the end of the day, most of the decent paying technology gigs come from managing information for someone.

    I got into this business in the early 90's and was told that by a friend of my father's who had been programming since the 60's. It's the best business advice anyone has ever given me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you want to have a long career in development, learn databases.

      More specifically, learn any of the core technologies. If you can do low-level network programming, there's always going to be a demand because so many people can't do that. If you can do core business development (for example, learn the J2EE stack), you'll be doing well (there are still COBOL jobs, and that technology was replaced a long time ago).

    • by Prof.Phreak ( 584152 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:11PM (#43343691) Homepage

      I second this recommendation! Unfortunately most college folks don't understand this at all...

      Google isn't about apps... it's about data... Facebook isn't about apps... it's about data... Financial analysis isn't about..err..money... it's about data... at the end of the day, it's ALL about data, how to search it, manipulate it, transform it, transmit it, learn from it, etc., (in sql, hadoop, hive, map-reduce, perl, java, anything!). And this skill isn't likely to ever become irrelevant; there's more data every day gathered by just about all corporations---and every one of them does something with all that data... and will do something *new* with that data in the future.

    • by screwzloos ( 1942336 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:35PM (#43343835)
      Came here to say this. Get a solid grasp of SQL to go with your C++ and Java, and there will always be somewhere to work. Regardless of whatever shiny new toy is coming out this week, databases aren't going away anytime soon, so database programmers aren't either.

      If it's an option for you, I'd suggest getting a job with the enterprise systems group at your university for a year or two after you graduate. I'm really glad I did. The pay will be below average, but getting my student loans paid off and a couple years of Oracle programming under my belt has put me in a great position to move wherever I want and launch into serious work.
    • by Niris ( 1443675 )
      Thanks for this piece. This is actually one of the things I heard early on in my degree program because they had the campus DBA teaching our databases class. Funny enough, I think only myself and one other person took his advice and learned general SQL and database structures, and it's already helped me in almost every project I've worked on.
  • You'll be able to show on your resume/cv that you've picked up what's needed to be done, worked with a fair few apps, and be able to apply what you've learned in all sorts of places. The stuff you're learning now will be invaluable for all later stuff, and you're lucky enough to be in an area that's also demanding high prices. Could be a lot worse. Enjoy it, soak it all up, save for the next thing to learn, make contacts, keep libraries/fragments of code for later stuff.
    • soak it all up, save for the next thing to learn, make contacts

      Indeed. If you get a good gig while mobile is growing so fast, remember hard times WILL come. There are thousands of other young (and old) developers learning the next thing, competing for your next job. Some major events will strike the industry. You may get injured, who knows, but shit hapeens, it's certain that some kind of shit will happen. When good times come use them to prepare for leaner times.

  • Check into embedded systems. A lot of your skill set will transfer, and it's another expanding field.

    • If you are looking at board-level embedded development,there is a heavy industry EE bias. If you are not an EE, you will have a rough go.

      Disclaimer: I am an EE.

      • Um, so am I. An EE who migrated to programming when I got burned out on engineering. I'm assuming it's possible to go back the other way, but have to confess that I personally haven't tried it.

  • Get two friends (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @07:56PM (#43343587) Homepage Journal

    spend a weekend brain storming.
    Create your own company.
    Make a go.

    You're skills are fine.

  • Bubble? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @07:59PM (#43343613)

    You mean, companies that have no business plan except leech off investors until a profit model magically appears? Those are the kind of companies that fail when tech bubbles pop.

    But there are tons of smartphones, and tons of people who want apps for their smartphones. As long as you work on something that has a real market and makes real money you don't have to worry about 'bubbles'.

  • Gather lots of knowledge on cloud development. It's a much slower moving, but very certain, change coming. Even the most hardcore nay-saying managers or admins (who will always whine about security as long as they can scare people) who want to keep it all in house are going to fold for the cheap allocation of VM's in the cloud. That's where your software will be running in about a decade (again, it's slow moving). But companies will own fewer and fewer physical servers.
  • Software development is like any other creative industry and what happened to the music industry is now happening to software development. The days where you could charge more than a couple of bucks for all but the most widely used applications are gone.
  • One of the problems in the mobile app space is the number of folks who fancied themselves good at CSS and some JavaScript framework and parlayed that into a creating some pretty weak sauce mobile apps. There's way too many folks like that in the market place, and frankly they need to be culled.

    I will make this point, Apps often need to talk to something. You should understand the ecosystem end to end. If you can pop a web service up on a cloud instance, and feed that into your mobile app you will be a ve

  • ...but beyond that it's simply guesswork. Until you know, keep lots of options open.

    If it were easy to distinguish paradigm-shifting new technologies from fads then everyone could do it. The proliferation of technologies is perhaps a sign of a bubble, or perhaps a sign that none of the 'innovations' in, say, the Web, or mobile devices, has quite got it right, and the first one that does will take the computing world by storm.

    But frankly, with the experience cited in the summary - machine learning, Java, C

  • by Ronin Developer ( 67677 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:30PM (#43343803)

    Sorry...need to repost...browser had logged me out...grrrr.

    The fact is, development of mobile apps as an individual and getting rich has come and gone. The marketplace is filled with so many versions of apps that do the same thing.

    That being said, enterprise mobile development is hot. Some think that most companies don't really need an app - maybe, they don't. But, most want to offer additional value to their customers or to develop enterprise apps for use within their company to manage the company's business processes.

    When the .dotCom bubble burst...many found themselves out of work...briefly. So, the big website isn't really happening. But, most companies still wanted a presence. And, so those developers still make a decent living. The internet hasn't dried up. And, the promise of mobile is just beginning.

    And, the skills one learns...assuming it isn't just HTML or HTML5 will be transferable. Grab a little JavaScript, learn Android or iOS programming. And, learn about hybrid solutions that leverage all of the above. Lots of jobs out there for those skill sets. No worries for those who are on top of their game and keep their skills fresh and take opportunities to learn.

  • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:50PM (#43343927)

    1- if you're good at what you do, there'll be work for you. Just make sure to get the message out that you *are*good, on top of being good. Network !
    2- Maybe widening your scope is wise, but build on your strengths, don't branch off in a completely unrelated domain. Maybe if you do Android, that means iOS, or maybe that means looking into revenue generation so you can get into independent developing, or maybe looking into low-level (OS, drivers) programming, or maybe graphics, security, databases... Look around you: what skills would help you do your job better ? Which skills are most needed and rewarded in projects around you ?
    3- The App bubble will burst for some, and strengthen non-bubbly others. Try and find a good company that's here to stay, with a business plan and credible income projections... not a flash-in-the-pan outfit that's mostly here to part investors from their money. Subcontractors/consultants are usually safer, inquire about the good ones in your area and make yourself known.
    4- Don't forget the non-technical stuff. Dress sharp. Be pleasant to work with. Be frank and honest about issues, but don't be a bitchy diva, learn as much tech and relational stuff as you can...

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @08:55PM (#43343959) Journal

    Learn databases. Figure out how to make software which pulls data out of a database, does some simple calculations, then puts it back in a database. Also learn how to make software which takes data out of a database and puts it in a report. On the Microsoft side there's all sorts of frameworks and tools for this, and it's dead easy.

    On the down side, you'll be ready to shoot yourself after a couple of months of this.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... and no-one employing you will expect you to have decent specialist skills for many years..

  • More automation, an inflated currency, and lame overpriced education.

    THERE IS NO WHERE TO GO....might as well give in, let us bite, and turn you into one of the infected masses.


  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stop worrying about the "app bubble" and build yourself a portfolio of working products.

    In my case, I registered a .com address with my name and built a nice and easy to navigate website that showcases my finished products (complete with videos screen capped from the device simulators), audio and visual works, experiments, etc. For each thing I generally wrote down a little blurb about how I arrived at the results I attained, why I decided to do specific things and sometimes how I achieved my end goals (you

    • by Niris ( 1443675 )
      Thank you for your advice. I've actually already started that last semester and have been keeping up with it: www.ptrprograms.com
      • by Xest ( 935314 )

        Be weary about what you read here, some replies are from people who are veterans, others are from people who point out that they themselves are still only just getting into the industry. The advice on learning about databases and general data manipulation is good advice for example, but some of the other responses about specific technology because it's worked for that individual are mere anecdotes that wont apply to the general case.

        If you really want to know what you should know then the first thing to rea

  • As the bar is being raised, either form your own company to produce superior works, or find your way to the companies that are doing this.
  • bubbles exist when there's no real money involved. When it's all about making money in the future and throwing now money at it.

    There is no "app bubble". People are paying real money for it, and there's no reason to believe they will stop. Perhaps the investments in companies that make them will pop, but there will never be less money being spent on apps than there is now.

  • Most posts here are on whether there is an App Bubble or not, but thats not the question.

    Even if there is an App Bubble or not, it is still a worthwhile question to ask what other technologies are worth spending time to learn if you want to broaden your professional horizons.

  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:40PM (#43344695)

    If you can comfortably program something semi-decent in C/C++, Perl and JavaScript, then you've got the skills to learn any modern programming language within two days. That should be your aim. Forget about "having contingencies". You don't need them. You need to be able to learn them quickly. That'll do. As a programmer, you're able to learn. That's the skill you have. That's the skill you'd need. Add an older language, like assembler, or fortran, and there's no programming language that you won't be able to learn in a single day, and master in a single month.

  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @01:29AM (#43345157)

    There's always a tech bubble. You'll constantly have to update your skills. Accept that.

    Work on your non programming skills. Take some engineering classes, learn how to engineer something instead of hacking something together. If your future boss plonks something on your desk and says "do it", you should be the person who thinks about it, writes out the requirements, does some math, uses that to look for a solution, writes the documentation, etc... and THEN programs the thing.

    Be that person, and you'll always get hired, because you'll do good work.... Hopefully. :D You'll still do better than the schlub that just hacks out a quickie solution. It will break. Or it will be too slow. Or it will not take future constraints into consideration. Or it will be poorly documented. etc etc etc.

    You can already program. Make sure you can engineer.

  • What are you worried about? Finding a job now, or one 5 years from now? Sounds like you have the skills to get a job now. So don't worry what will happen 5 years from now.
    Lets suppose this mythical bubble pops. What is the worst case scenario? The 250 million iPhones will still be out there. People will still want a new game or app. But lets suppose they just up and disappear. They'll be replaced with something, google glasses or iWatch or whatever. So guess what you do? Learn the new machine, and move ov
  • You sound eager, humble and smart.

    In other words: you'll be fine no matter what bubble pops.

  • No need to panic (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Wednesday April 03, 2013 @04:44AM (#43345791)

    The only real bubble is that companies like Yahoo are willing to pay lots of money for one-app companies with very little tangible value. You should only really be concerned if your plan is to try to make money by creating your own app and selling it to a megacorp.

    Where the money is for mobile developers is not making apps themselves, but making apps for businesses that want apps to further their non-app-related goals. It's similar to websites in the 90s - while a few outliers were people making money on websites they were building for themselves, most web developers were making money by building websites for companies to achieve their other business goals.

    I've been doing mobile development for over four years now, and this whole time I've been expecting hordes of developers to descend on the market and give me a lot more competition. It doesn't seem to be happening - demand for mobile developers is still far outpacing supply. It will be a good field to be in for years to come. Eventually the mobile developer market will be saturated, but this took a decade for websites, and the people who were any good didn't care because they had the time to build up loads of experience and put themselves at the top of their field.

    If you find that you do need to shift your career path, you can generalise quite easily - Java is still widely used in other areas such as server-side web development, and Objective-C will let you write native OS X applications. Generally speaking, if you can handle mobile development, you can handle desktop development with ease.

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