Last Sunday I enjoyed the hospitality of a local chum who served up a somewhat exotic Mexican barbecue. I have to say, after a couple of mohito's he could have served up grilled caterpillar and I would have been as happy. As we ate, for fun we tuned into a Mexican radio station with his flash-harry Roberts internet radio. It's quite a toy. It simply hooks into the wi-fi and gives you access to thousands of radio stations across the world. The downside is they cost north of £180.
Later, my youngest son introduced me to Tunein, an app that sits on an ipad / iphone / android handset / pc which also gives you instant access to 50,000 radio stations worldwide. The basic version is free; the zouped up pro version costs 69p. The clue here is I won't be spending £180 on the Roberts kit.
A free app then, potentially replaces an expensive manufactured device that is well designed and as a product, probably accounts for a decent number of jobs. Apps are the new technology. In some ways they are a brilliant way of bringing top line ideas, concepts, programmes, knowledge, and entertainment to mass markets quickly and at low cost. They also have the potential though to send yet another nuclear shock wave through jobs. Just ask yourself how much of your daily work and knowledge accumulated through years of experience could potentially be replaced with a 69p app if programmed by the right people with similar knowledge as your own.
I do enjoy using these things, but they will change the world and it's happening very quickly indeed. Marc Andreessen discusses this at greater length in a WSJ piece and John Hempton follows it up in his excellent financial blog at Bronte Capital.
One of the great cry's of the last 14 years when looking at start up internet businesses has been, "what are the barriers to entry?" For many businesses, those barriers are being swept aside with frightening speed in this rapidly evolving anyone-can-play world. Perhaps the new cry for all businesses, new and old, will be, "but is it App-Proof?"
Thing is, just what kind of monster has Apple unleashed? With 50,000 radio stations........ who needs itunes?