Lewko on the App Industry’s Full Circle Moment

Optimized-LewkoIn preparation for Health:Refactored, our code and design focused conference taking place May 13–14, we sat down with Caroline Lewko of the Wireless Industry Partnership. Her talk “The Parallel Universe: Extending your App’s Life Beyond 30 days will take place during “Deals & Dollars: Optimizing your Biz Dev Strategy” on May 14. Follow the Health:Refactored speaker interview series here.

Q. What is the Wireless Industry Partnership? 

A. The Wireless Industry Partnership is about connecting developers so they can be successful in their business.

We do that through a number of different ways, but we really focus on connecting them to the ecosystem. Connecting them to peers, making sure that they’ve got really good information about tools and how to go to market. And also with influencers — whether that’s developer programs, investors, other key individuals.

And we do that through some of the activities we do. We do our own events. We also publish something called the Mobile Developers’ Guide to the Parallel Universe. And that really supports developers in understanding how it’s not just coding that’s important. The 80% of getting a product to market is that agile marketing approach: how do you actually make the best product and how do you take that product to market?

For us it’s really important to give developers a voice in the whole ecosystem, which really has been our premise right from the beginning. We’re just seven years old now.

Q. It’s historically characteristic of companies to want to innovate in isolation. But why is it at this point in time that Silicon Valley is embracing “open?” 

A. I think it’s been growing for a while. We were talking about open innovation probably eight or nine years ago. And again, that’s a lot of premise of why this was formed. How do we get these communities working together?

I think it’s getting to that tipping point or critical mass of openness where in the beginning people were really nervous about how they would embrace working with other people, working with other companies, and what that would meant to their own business and revenue and IP.

And it worked really well for a lot of different groups, a lot of different companies. So we’re probably more in that critical mass piece now. It certainly hasn’t come on suddenly. Believe me it hasn’t come on suddenly.

Q. What will you be discussing in your talk at the upcoming conference? 

A. I’m talking about making money and business models. Which is of course very important! I’m actually seeing sort of full circle within mobile development where initially it was always about going direct to your customer. And then it became you can only really do anything with your apps if you were in one of the closed app stores, one of the carrier stores.

We’re really seeing, especially when it comes to things like health care and enterprise, where it’s now more important to have direct access to your customers, rather than thinking about going through channels like carriers and devices and app stores. It’s a different type of selling, it’s a different way of thinking. But it’s something that developers really need to be able to grasp.

This interview was edited for length.

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