More Stories from the Future of Computing

From the Jobs keynote of yesterday, a slide with a quote from Theo Gray of Wolfram, regarding the popular “Elements” iPad application:

I earned more on sales of The Elements for iPad in the first day than from the past 5 years of Google ads on

Quoth Jobs, “That’s what I like to hear from you guys.” Audience whoops.

Right now the walled garden is kicking the jungle’s ass, but for how long? It’s incredibly interesting, that for the moment the old school revenue model of application sales is actually besting the new school free-with-strings (ads) model that we were told was the Future. Perhaps once HTML5 application quality gets up to the level of fit and finish that the current crop of native apps is providing we will flip back again.

I think, for example, of a stock market application. Would people pay a buck for a really excellent application that “just works” in a clean and uncluttered way for displaying current information, research, blah blah blah, instead of just going to Yahoo! Finance? The information is available for free (just like the periodic table!) but a really excellent encapsulation of that information might be compelling enough to pay for. Walled garden starts to fall apart where it interfaces with the jungle… once the application has to link out to things like company reports, and other non-structure pieces in the raw internet, it re-gains the clunkiness of the old browser experience. So why not start with the browser?

For geo, I think that sites like GeoCommons, which have applied a baseline level of structure to a wide swath of data, are fertile grounds for the “app treatment”. An application that provides superior interactive access to their data archives would be an alternative monetization path for leveraging their growing holdings of structured GIS data.

Interesting times!