Rewind to the turn of the century and software possibly meant all the stuff that was “loaded” on to an assembled PC when one bought it from the neighbourhood vendor; people used personaldigital assistants for office work and a mobile phone was an expensive way to communicate. In 15 years, smartphones have become ubiquitous; new form factors such as music players, netbooks, tablets and hybrids have come along – each with more powerful processors than what powered PCs in those days. And Steve Jobs and Michael Jackson are dead – but their work lives on. Software, which remains at the core, has become leaner and meaner while apps have revolutionised the space. A look at what is likely to happen in this space in 2016:
Software as a Service: Referred to as SaaS, this has seen traction for some time. But after Microsoft made Office 2016 available to subscribers on the day the office suite was launched (that too, free of charge!), this model gained a lot of followers. Since SaaS offers the option of paying a smaller amount over a longer period for expensive software (something like buying on equated monthly instalments or EMIs), this has appeal in a price-sensitive market like India.
Privacy and security: Most makers of computer security software have come out with suites which bundle in an anti-virus, a firewall, a password locker and a privacy checker – for PC/Mac Android and iOS! As we use an increasing number of apps, we need to remember as many passwords, and this trend is likely to continue. Thus password keepers would remain in demand as well. Also, since we have our entire lives on our phones, it makes sense to protect it with privacy tools.
Enter subscription, exit TV? Apple Music made its debut in 2015 while Kindle Unlimited reached India’s shores. Microsoft already had its Office subscription model. Plus, we have had a surfeit of streaming apps based on subscription, such as Spuul, Airtel Wynk and Hungama. Netflix, too, it is heard, is coming to India soon. With so much to watch or listen to online, there is real danger of a section of the population shunning television and other conventional modes of media consumption.
Productivity on the go: The popularity of big-screen phones with powerful processors has led to a whole lot of work being done on the mobile phone. This has, in turn, led to a surfeit of productivity apps such as office suites and the like. Integrated with the cloud and making use of high-speed data networks, these apps would continue to add value to the corporate set, especially commuters.
Consolidation of mobile OS: In terms of numbers, Android is king among smartphone OSes, with iOS following close behind. Because of its tight integration with the desktop OS and great battery life, Windows is still popular among a few. That leaves BlackBerry and Kindle Fire, if it arrives in India. But, with Priv adopting Android, where does this leave BlackBerry 10, otherwise a fine and stable operating system? We’ll know the answer only in 2016.