Developing Perspective

#212: Four Phases of a Gold Rush.


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing

00:00:04   news of note in iOS development, Apple and the like. I'm your host, David Smith. I'm an independent

00:00:08   iOS developer based in Herna, Virginia, and this is show number 212. Today is Friday, February 27.

00:00:15   Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes. So let's get started.

00:00:18   All right, so yesterday, Apple sent out invitations for their what they are calling their spring

00:00:25   Forward event, which will be taking place March 9th, so a little over a week in San

00:00:30   Francisco.

00:00:32   And that's pretty exciting for me because I think it finally puts a definite date on

00:00:36   this whole timeline for the introduction of the Apple Watch, which if you've been following

00:00:40   along at home is something that I'm rather eagerly awaiting.

00:00:43   So the event is very exciting to me to be able to finally have some kind of definition

00:00:48   on some more details about the device.

00:00:50   It's widely expected I think we'll get more details about pricing and availability and

00:00:54   probably all of the tricks that Apple still has up its sleeve,

00:00:58   or about the Apple Watch.

00:00:59   But when they introduced the device last year,

00:01:02   they gave a fairly good demo.

00:01:04   And it was, I would say, a very compelling product.

00:01:06   But if history is any guide, they

00:01:08   left a few little things up their sleeve

00:01:10   that they can sort of reveal now and have a bit more buzz,

00:01:14   bit more impact.

00:01:15   So I'm super excited, just in anticipation of that.

00:01:18   But as I get ready for that, and as I kind of start really

00:01:22   taking this into land in terms of the in the pre release of the Apple Watch phase of my

00:01:28   like development cycle, you know, all this as I learned watch kit series I've been doing

00:01:32   all of this was work I've been doing about it, like it's about to hit to the next chapter,

00:01:35   obviously, right? When Apple releases the watch, then it's like I actually have an actual

00:01:38   device, I'm actually using it, there's less speculation, there's less just sort of wandering

00:01:42   wondering about things. And in that run up, I've had a lot of people reach out to me for

00:01:47   interviews and things, which is great. I'm super honored to be in that position. And

00:01:52   a word keeps coming up in these interviews, in these things people ask me about. And it

00:01:57   was the word that I wanted to kind of unpack a little bit today. And it's not really a

00:02:01   word, I guess it's two words. Goldbrush. It's something that I think it feels really odd

00:02:10   when it gets applied to this type of situation. But it is something that is a pattern that

00:02:15   has happened before.

00:02:15   You know, there have been quote unquote "gold rushes"

00:02:19   in the App Store when the iPhone first launched perhaps.

00:02:21   In some ways, when the iPad launched,

00:02:23   though perhaps not to the same degree.

00:02:25   But I do remember, I think it was Scott Forstall in one

00:02:28   of the promo videos for the iPad, where it's like,

00:02:31   and we were expecting a whole new gold rush.

00:02:33   And like, Apple actually used the word.

00:02:36   It's, you know, speaking for the company.

00:02:37   So what is a gold rush, right?

00:02:40   And I think in our head, we have this vague sense of like,

00:02:42   The gold rush is when something new comes out and suddenly there's this tremendous pot

00:02:47   of money that you can just reach your hand in and grab some, right?

00:02:50   Like, it's just you're walking out in California in 1849 and there's just gold everywhere.

00:02:57   And you can just go and get it.

00:02:58   And so as a developer, you know, we hear about these things.

00:03:00   We hear about these opportunities.

00:03:01   It's like, oh, we got to take advantage of it.

00:03:04   But the funny thing is, when you really start to stop and think about a gold rush, it has

00:03:07   many phases.

00:03:08   phases. And I thought about it a lot this morning and I was thinking, I kind of came up with a gold

00:03:13   rush as having four phases. And I think it's instructive for me to kind of walk through

00:03:18   before I dive into how reasonable or realistic or if this watch is going to be a gold rush or

00:03:24   whatever. So the first is the rumor. Now the rumor is where, this is the phase we're in right now,

00:03:32   is where you kind of have this vague sense of a possibility of something. You know, you

00:03:38   kind of, people are to say, I'm going to keep referencing back to the 1849 gold rush in

00:03:44   California, because it seems oddly appropriate for a company based in California to be releasing

00:03:48   a product and for us to be talking about it as gold rush to harken back to that. And the

00:03:53   San Francisco football team is even the 49ers. So you know, go there. So we're in the rumor,

00:04:00   right? And the rumor is you have a sense that something is possible. And this is the this is

00:04:05   the part of the of the kind of craziness about it with a gold rush that sets the sets the groundwork

00:04:11   and makes it believable, is you kind of have this sense, you know, you're out exploring, and you

00:04:17   hear these vague reports, not necessarily that there's gold to be had, but that it's possible

00:04:23   that there's gold to be had, that people are starting to create analogies or and, you know,

00:04:28   harking back to other experiences where there were, you know, lots of opportunities and lots of money to be made or whatever.

00:04:34   And you've got this kind of, this rumor. It's not fully formed. It's not, it doesn't have a champion yet.

00:04:40   It doesn't have any kind of handles. It's just this vague sense of like, "Hmm,

00:04:44   something's possible here."

00:04:47   And then you go into the legend phase. The legend.

00:04:51   The legend is when that rumor finally gets its champion, finally has

00:04:57   one example, one shining beacon that the world can look to and say, "Oh, look what he did.

00:05:05   He is the one who has now hit the gold, hit it big, hit the gold rush."

00:05:10   This is the first person in the California gold rush with a picture holding a big nugget

00:05:15   of gold on the cover of a newspaper or something like that.

00:05:20   Or in the iPhone, maybe this is the, this is Trism, right?

00:05:22   I remember that story of the guy who made Trism and, you know, in the first couple of

00:05:26   of weeks, he made, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars or whatever it was like, and I

00:05:30   don't even know if that's right. That's just the vague thing that I have in my head, but

00:05:34   it's just the legend, right? It's this catalyst, this moment where suddenly, that thing that

00:05:40   everybody's been wondering about in the rumor, suddenly has this focal point that focuses

00:05:46   that attention into something that suddenly it's not just the theory of something that's

00:05:51   possible. It's actually it's actually happened. It happened to this guy could happen to me,

00:05:56   And that legend, once you hit that tipping point, you hit into the next kind of interesting

00:06:02   phase, which is the rush.

00:06:05   This is where everyone gets in their covered wagons and heads out west in search of their

00:06:08   fortunes or everyone whips open Xcode and starts making iPhone apps.

00:06:12   You have in your mind that it's possible.

00:06:14   You've been thinking about it for a while.

00:06:15   You've been thinking, "I wonder if this is going to be a big thing.

00:06:17   I wonder if this is going to be a big thing."

00:06:20   And suddenly you have this example.

00:06:21   You have these shiny beacons of like, "Wow, yes, no, this is amazing.

00:06:24   Everybody's making all this money.

00:06:25   I want in on that."

00:06:27   And then there's the rush.

00:06:28   Everyone starts to get in and pile in and pile in.

00:06:31   And then you get into the unfortunate part, which is the last phase of the gold rush,

00:06:36   which is the reality.

00:06:38   And this is when everyone arrives and suddenly realizes that perhaps there may have been

00:06:42   at one point kind of easy pickings.

00:06:44   Maybe there was gold nuggets just strewn throughout the ground.

00:06:49   But now there's hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people all trying to pick

00:06:54   them up. Now you have like the mad frenzy of everyone running around trying to take

00:06:59   advantage of the opportunity. And the thing that made it a tremendous opportunity in the

00:07:03   first place is now kind of evaporated, because everyone's rushing at it because everyone

00:07:09   wants to get there. It reminds me a bit of, you know, a little bit of investing advice,

00:07:15   which was along the lines of the time to sell a stock is the day that it's featured on business

00:07:21   week, right? Like, the unfortunate reality with these

00:07:25   types of things is as soon as something becomes a generally

00:07:30   accepted truth of an opportunity, more likely than

00:07:33   not, that opportunity has already evaporated, or at least

00:07:36   diminished from its mythical status into just a normal

00:07:40   opportunity, something reasonable and practical, and

00:07:44   something that, you know, isn't a get which quick, get rich,

00:07:48   quick scheme. Instead, it's just a normal everyday business

00:07:53   opportunity that you kind of have to do the daily slog in

00:07:55   order to achieve. And that I'm no historian, I'm not sure if

00:07:59   that's exactly what happened in 1849 in the California gold rush.

00:08:02   And in some ways, I think that's what happened in the iOS iPhone

00:08:06   app gold rush. But that is, I think, the reality and for most

00:08:10   of these things, it's never the it's never what the marketing

00:08:14   would have you think whether that marketing is con is

00:08:16   proactive or just the inherent sort of emergent marketing of the experience. That whenever

00:08:22   we something, whenever something is new, people are going to start thinking about it in terms

00:08:27   of what can I do with that as from from an opportunity perspective? Can I make money

00:08:31   there? Can I, you know, what can I do with this new thing? And then you'll start to hear

00:08:35   examples of people who, you know, were there and were ready and were able to take advantage

00:08:40   of that and struck it big, got lucky, whatever you want to say. And then there's sort of

00:08:45   inevitable rush thereafter of people trying to emulate that experience, who then find

00:08:50   themselves into the unfortunate reality that the uniqueness, the novelty has probably worn

00:08:56   off. In some ways, it reminds me of if you've ever had an experience that was really awesome,

00:09:03   right? You went out and you did this thing, like you went to this place and you had this

00:09:07   experience and it was awesome. And you then maybe a few months later, maybe a few years

00:09:13   later you're like, "You know what? I want to go do that again. That was so cool. It

00:09:17   was so amazing." And it's this rich experience that you have such this great memory of. And

00:09:21   you go and try and recreate that experience. It never lives up to it. It never lives up

00:09:26   to what it was before. And some of that is because of the novelty, right? The novelty

00:09:30   was what made it so awesome. And you can't recreate novelty. And so when you try and

00:09:35   recreate it in a past experience, it both ruins the memory of the first experience as

00:09:39   as well as not really being fun, not being quite as rich the second time around.

00:09:46   And so when people ask me, "Do I think the Apple Watch is going to be a gold rush?"

00:09:53   If you take the definition of those four phases that I just outlined, I think there probably

00:09:57   will be something like that.

00:09:58   I think that will be roughly the experience.

00:10:00   I think the watch will be compelling.

00:10:02   I'm very excited to own one.

00:10:03   I'm very excited to wear one every day.

00:10:05   I think it will allow me to do some things that I want to do around fitness, around sort

00:10:11   of just general connectedness and data tracking, allow me to change some of my kind of poor

00:10:19   habits in terms of those things, the degree to which I'm on my phone because I feel like

00:10:23   I need to stay in touch, things like that that I can pull away from when I have a connected

00:10:27   watch.

00:10:29   And so I think that those types of things are going to happen.

00:10:32   We're in the rumor phase now, and we'll probably

00:10:34   have a few examples, a few people who are the legends,

00:10:36   the catalysts that are like, wow, look, so-and-so built

00:10:39   this thing, and it went crazy.

00:10:41   And now they're super rich and famous, and hooray,

00:10:44   they're high-fiving Tim Cook on stage.

00:10:46   Like, awesome.

00:10:47   And then there'll be a big rush.

00:10:49   And so what does that mean for us?

00:10:51   What does that mean for a reasonable developer?

00:10:53   What should we want to do?

00:10:56   And to harken back to another kind of trite axiom,

00:11:00   but it's something that I think applies here. A lot of people say that luck is opportunity plus preparation.

00:11:05   Right? And you can't control

00:11:08   both of those. You can really just control one of them.

00:11:11   You can control your preparation and then just be on the lookout for opportunity.

00:11:15   So I'm trying very hard to be prepared.

00:11:19   I'm not really looking at this as a gold rush, as this magical thing that will make my fortunes and run wild.

00:11:27   But I want to be prepared.

00:11:29   I want to be part of the pre-rush phase in this market.

00:11:34   Not because I think it will be a wild, crazy thing, but because I want to get good at it.

00:11:40   I want to be able to make rich quality experiences for the watch.

00:11:43   And I want to be an expert on the platform.

00:11:46   And if you'll indulge me slightly, this is something I wrote in a blog post last week

00:11:50   called "WatchCon Level 2," which is a post I'll commend to you for reading, but essentially

00:11:56   was me explaining the different levels of preparedness, but in it I wrote a paragraph

00:11:59   that is probably one of the better paragraphs I've ever written. And I was just really proud

00:12:03   of it. And so I was going to read it on the show because I think it captures this experience.

00:12:07   And it said, "There is unfortunately no shortcut to gaining expertise in a subject.

00:12:12   You can only truly understand something by working on it, by immersing yourself in it,

00:12:16   by building terrible prototypes and throwing them away. You cannot throw away what you haven't made."

00:12:22   And so that's where I am. That's how I'm viewing this potential gold rush, right? I want to be an

00:12:28   expert on this platform. I want to be prepared. I want to be on my wagon already on the way to

00:12:33   California before there's even rumors heading back to Chicago and New York and Washington and Boston

00:12:39   that something may be on its way. Because you can't rush that experience. You can't reasonably

00:12:43   expect if there is any opportunity at the end of this, that you're going to be able to jump onto it

00:12:49   and rush towards it from behind and overtake the people who are already there, who are

00:12:54   already setting up their tents and getting out their pants and going down to the streams

00:12:58   and panning for gold.

00:13:01   And I hate focusing on this too much on the money side of it, but that's, I think, what

00:13:05   a lot of people tend to focus on because it isn't really about that to me.

00:13:08   I want to make cool apps.

00:13:09   I want to make fun experiences.

00:13:11   I want to enrich people's lives in some ways, especially with all the fitness-related stuff

00:13:15   on an Apple Watch.

00:13:17   And so I don't know exactly what that means for me.

00:13:20   I'm just trying to be ready.

00:13:22   I have a bunch of apps that I think

00:13:23   are going to be ready to submit to the App Store

00:13:25   whenever Apple opens the door.

00:13:27   I don't know yet if I'm going to submit on day one.

00:13:29   I probably will for at least some of those

00:13:32   because they're ready.

00:13:33   Why not?

00:13:34   Some things I may wait on.

00:13:35   Some things I may wait until I have

00:13:37   an actual watch in my hand that I can try and experience

00:13:40   the thing on before I make sure that it seems really

00:13:42   what I want to ship.

00:13:44   But I want to be ready.

00:13:45   Because really, at the end of the day,

00:13:47   I want to be able to make that choice.

00:13:49   I want to be able to not have that feeling at the end of the person who arrives in California

00:13:54   a month late and still hears all the stories of the people who made their fortunes, but

00:14:01   kind of is kicking themselves.

00:14:02   They weren't there quite on time.

00:14:05   And I think that's going to happen.

00:14:06   I think that's going to happen to a lot of people.

00:14:07   I've heard from a lot of people who are kind of waiting and seeing on the Apple Watch.

00:14:10   I think that might be a mistake.

00:14:11   I think that is something that, I think it's a big platform.

00:14:14   I think it's going to be going places.

00:14:15   And so I think it makes sense to be getting good at it

00:14:19   as soon as you can.

00:14:20   And that's what I'm doing.

00:14:21   And I'd encourage anyone else to think

00:14:23   about doing the same thing.

00:14:25   All right, that's it for today's show.

00:14:27   As always, questions, comments, concerns, or complaints,

00:14:29   you can find me on Twitter.

00:14:30   I'm underscore DavidSmith there.

00:14:31   Or you can email me, David@developingperspective.com.

00:14:34   Thanks, happy coding, and I'll talk to you next week.