The Peaceable Kingdom

More from Olof at C4.

Curiously, there's a lot less Microsoft bashing at C4 than there was at WWDC.  Sure, even at WWDC the Microsoft - Apple rivalry has gotten better-natured, but Microsoft used to get much worse treatment among the Mac indie developer community.  It has all changed. 

The surprise guest of C4, a.k.a 14.2% cooler, turns out to be Aaron Hillegass.   One of his slides was a map of the Mac software market, and one of his points was that the traditional Mac space of consumer apps, pro apps and business apps is dominated by Apple and a host of other software giants, including Microsoft.

Then he presented an expanded view of the software market which included areas which aren't traditional Mac domains -- legal, financial, military, government, etc., and he pointed out that indie developers would be well served to look to those domains for big problems to solve, to make a bigger impact in the world, and perhaps also to collect a bigger paycheck.

C4 is mainly an indie developer conference, so this point is particularly interesting for the few of us here from bigger companies.  On the one hand, it means that we are working on and delivering products that are good enough that whetever product niches that exist in our space are small and overcrowded.  But I also get the sense that indie developers see the Mac Office market segment of Personal productivity as a segment that is less dynamic and less cutting-edge than most others.

A compounding issue is that we have a long time between major releases, so we at MacBU have to look far down the road in hopes of being cutting edge when we actually release a product.  I'm awfully envious of some other developers here who can ship releases on a much shorter time scale than MacBU can -- it's easier to be cutting edge when releases go out faster.

But on the flip side, A big company like Microsoft has some resources available to pour into looking into the future and building a part of it. The happy part seems to be that there's a pretty healthy ecosystem of Mac developers -- there are a number of indie developers ready to use their agility to advantage and turn out products quickly, and there are companies willing to invest in big projects like Mac Office.  

And lest everyone forget, we are all users, too.  Plenty of those indie developers are using products from big companies in their businesses, and plenty of us big company developers are using some rockingly cool tools from the indies.  I've yet to get a less than fully positive response introducing myself as a Microsoft Employee here, and even better, I've had students asking about jobs in MacBU.  Right now the panel is reminiscing about the good old days of MacHack when there was a 'bash Apple' session. Signs of the times.