Mobile today – after 500 years of publishing

John McDermott just posted Why app-install ads are a huge business and here to stay which provides top level insight from Simon Khalaf (CEO of Flurry) and Mahi de Silva (CEO of Opera Mediaworks).    In this article, Mahi notes, “I don’t think we’ve come anywhere close to seeing the peak of innovation in mobile apps… Maybe app installs will slow down in 2020, but there’s very little indication that it’s going to slow down anytime soon.”

When it comes to looking at the future, where we have been already can shed real light on where things are going:

  • Johann Gutenberg invented Europe’s first printing press circa 1450 AD.
  • Within 50 years or so, 1500 AD – about a thousand presses had 500,000 books  in circulation throughout Europe.
  • 492 years later, the largest library in the world, the United States’ Library of Congress hosts  over 100 million items, including “15 million books, 39 million manuscripts, 13 million photographs, 4 million maps, 3.5 million pieces of music, and more than 500,000 movies.”
  • In 2004, monthly internet traffic exceeded 1 exabyte for the first time.
  • In 2010, monthly internet traffic exceeded 21 exabytes.
  • Cisco estimates that by 2015, internet traffic will exceed 80 exabytes monthly.

An exabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes — 1,024 petabytes or 1, 048, 576 terabytes, as you prefer.  A zettabyte is 1,024 exabytes.

This much is sufficient to establish that the Internet, especially Mobile, is in an “early stage” of development.    One of my favorite aspects of Internet development correlates with Ray Kurzweil’s estimation that the sum of human knowledge will be available to everyone, in every language by the mid-2020’s or so.   What’s not been particularly clear is who is going to do that, and how… exactly?

Today, I was hit right off the bat with three different articles and advertisements on e-books.  I know they aren’t truly in the same niche as mobile apps, but there are parallels especially when it comes down to mobile app localization:

  • The first was from a small press advertising they will publish your ebook for free. Nothing new.
  • The second was about the same, except from a major book distributor.  Noteworthy.
  • The third, was a service to translate your ebook into any language “for free” – a Game Changer.

Technically, that last one involves splitting revenue shares of your ebook sales with the translators.  That’s not new except for the level of organization and simplicity they add to an otherwise complex process.

Essentially, if that is being done for ebooks now, the same will be available for mobile app developers in the very near future, if it is not already.   Where localization efforts now might focus on perhaps 8 – 12 major languages, it may become commercially viable to localize for over 3 dozen languages, probably many more than that.

Context is good.  Our CEO sees the going as good for mobile apps and advertising through at least 2020.   The way technology is evolving, it is really difficult to see how things will develop more than a few years out.   From the Gutenberg Press to the IBM Selectric III typewriter (well… in 1994, I bought one for $1.00) to the Internet, publishing has never been easier.   We are on the cusp of a new era of publishing, not just words and pictures, or movies, but software and applications that make it easier for less technically savvy people to produce software and applications.


Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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