A trend I'm noticing lately is that SaaS, and developing web-based products has hit mainstream. For the last five years or so, Web development was mainly for e-commerce and in-house apps. The bandwidth and development tools are finally here, which were probably the biggest impediment to the mass-adoption of web-based or network-apps (Anyone remember Network Computing? I spent some time at a NC startup in the late 90s, and we were going to put Microsoft out of business with thin-clients and network-enabled productivity apps. I think you can guess how that story ended...)
Here are some of the interesting trends and implications I'm seeing as a result.
- Adobe Flex and Flash for GUI development: The adoption rate of Flash as a front-end GUI technology is phenomenal. I hear constantly from ISVs that they are either using Flex for GUI development in their next-gen product or seriously considering it
- LAMP Stack in product development: "Serious Developers", i.e. people who have been developing in C or C++, often look down on PHP and Python as web scripting languages you use for developing small business web sites or fan-sites for your favorite RPG. Truth is, some serious products are being built on the LAMP stack, partly because of the tools available, partly because it's low cost when you're first getting started, and partly because there are more and more developers out there with PHP experience, so it makes it easier to find talent. (though I would warn that if you're developing a product, it's important to hire PHP developers who have product development experience - who have rigor and understand the product dev cycle, and that's a little harder to find)
- .NET very popular among Microsoft ISVs: This certainly makes sense, as the learning curve is probably faster for a Windows development team. A few years ago, people didn't take .NET seriously as a robust and scalable platform, and they were worried about building a product on .NET, especially if it was going to be sold to financial or Fortune 500, but I think this has changed. Microsoft has always won
- J2EE on the decline? J2EE was very popular with the early movers - ISVs who were among the first to move to a SaaS model, because it was the enterprise-class development platform. . I don't have the data to back this up. Anecdotally, I just see it less that previously.
- Ruby on Rails is no longer for prototyping: Again, some developers saw Rails as a way of doing rapid prototyping, and that's all, but I'm seeing more of Rails in full blown products
- And finally, my dream -the rise of the Software Enabled business: companies who traditionally haven't been ISVs are now selling software products, now that the barrier for building, selling, and distributing software is lower. I think we'll also see more Fabless software companies - companies being more market focused rather than technology focused, and who may even outsource or license most of their technology rather than build it themselves, much like chip companies or consumer product companies do today.