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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 15:05 EDT

Apps Are The New Gold Rush

January 13, 2012

In 1848, James W. Marshall’s discovery at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California went down in American history books forever and changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people after claiming he found gold in the golden state.

As news spread, about 300,000 people came out to California, earning themselves the nickname “forty-niners.”

The Gold Rush led some to riches, and other to the poorhouse as gold went from leaping off the ground, to hiding beneath rocks in riverbeds.

There is now a new gold rush upon us, and it doesn’t require manual labor, nor does it ask for you to pick up and move thousands of miles away from your home.  It is the App Rush.

Just as Marshall’s words gained momentum around the world in 1848, Steve Job’s announcement of Apple’s App Store caused a ripple effect in the technology industry on July 10, 2008.

Opening up the door for developers to make applications for the iPhone started a wave of demand in markets that haven’t even begun to crack the surface.

Developers now control their own fate, with the opportunity to build applications that have limitless potential.

The surface of the application market has barely even been tapped.  Sure, Apple has surpassed the 500,000 milestone for apps available in its store, but there have been over 18 billion downloads in that store, and the list of iPhone owners keeps growing.

Tablet computers open up a world of possibilities through their touch screens, and the more inches the device has, the more space a developer has for controls, advertisements, and whatever else can be dreamed up.

Televisions like Samsung’s new ES 8000 are being built now with the computer power to better handle video applications like Hulu and Netflix, and games like Angry Birds.

Nearly every big product shown-off at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics show this week had the ability to utilize apps, from computer printers to Recon’s newest ski goggles.

I had the privilege of talking with Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the organization behind CES, at the show this week.  He agreed that this market is fertile ground and has plenty of room to keep growing.

Shapiro said, “I think there’s a huge opportunity still” in the app industry.  He said he believes “we are still tapping the surface of this thing.”

But despite the room for rapid expansion in this App Rush, there is still a villain of sorts to battle.

Little can be done about false claims on review pages created by competitors.  Villains in the California Gold Rush of the 1800s were equipped with plenty of guns and ammo to spare in order to steal your loot.  Now, they have a keyboard and a hefty supply of time on their hands to take your credibility.

Shapiro compared this type of competition as being similar to the lawless behaviors faced in the Old West.

“I didn’t realize that the danger for any developer that has any competition is the way apps are starred and rated,” Shapiro, author of the New York Times Best Seller “The Comeback”, told me. “Obviously it’s a free-for-all, so the competition can always down grade you.  Wanna talk about a ‘Wild West’, that means the guy with a bigger gun can basically shoot down your claim in gold.”

But the fear of competition didn’t change the hearts of the forty-niners who faced adversity in the form of overcrowding, high cost and thieves.  Instead, they pushed through and helped build the “California Dream.”

Developers today can strive to overcome hurdles like an over saturated market or lack of an advertising outlet that face the app industry by having the same qualities that all great pioneers of the technology industry have had: the heart of an entrepreneur and the spirit of an innovator.

These qualities can push developer’s dreams further and further, because in this era, apps are the new gold mine.

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Source: Lee Rannals for RedOrbit