Global warming. The U.S. losing its edge in science and technology. A growing income gap. And what are the best and the brightest working on?
Do you see a problem here? You have to ask yourself, are we working on the right things?
Some of the negative examples he cited were the Facebook application Superpoke and the popular iPhone app "iBeer," which simulates chugging a pint of beer. Has anything changed since O’Reilly’s alert? Let’s see:
The most popular of 50+ (!) fart applications, iFart Mobile generated $10,000 a day at 99c per download until it got written up just before Christmas, then it exploded, bringing in $27,249 on Christmas Day. Dou think it’s jus a crazy name for a useful program? Nope: all it does is to make farting noises.
Tapping into the Apple phone craze, accidental entrepreneurs rake in millions by creating popular applications.
-says the Washington Post in an aptly named article: The iPhone’s Golden Touch. At least Smule, the showcased company does not make fart noises: they have applications like virtual lighter, a virtual firecracker, a voice changer, a virtual wind instrument. They are on track to make $1 million this year, a buck a piece.
If this is not crazy, I don’t know what is… Brian Greenstone, who has been writing (real) games for Apple computers for 21 years agrees:
It’s crazy. It’s like lottery money. In the last four and a half months we’ve made as much money off the retail sales of iPhone apps as we’ve made with retail sales of all of the apps that we’ve made in the past 21 years — combined.
Spending 99c a time does not feel like a big decision – yet it all feels like a gigantic waste. An it will get written up as showcases of entrepreneurship.
I would like to amend the definition of entrepreneurship to include the creation of something useful (yes, I know, I’ve just opened a Pandora’s box, but …). Let’s differentiate opportunity seekers (nothing wrong with that) from Entrepreneurs. I’d like to stand on a soap box and yell: People, wake up! Don’t you have anything better to do?
But my voice isn’t loud enough. I thought Tim O’Reilly’s was … shall we heed his call to do something worthy? Make it a New Year’s Resolution for 2009?
Update: Just read Developers: Be Passionate About What You Build by Bob Warfield. Makes me wonder just how passionate one can be about building a fart application.