Maybe I’m stereotyping, but something tells me the majority of developers who might be reading this are either too young or not cool enough to catch the reference to the 1991 hip-hop anthem from Naughty By Nature.
I’ll spare you my attempt at retooling the lyrics with something witty to match my message.
5 1/2 years ago I wrote about my search for “The Next Platform”. Based on the rumors of the day, I thought there was a pretty good chance that said platform would be a television created by Apple, that would run apps and open the world to whole new genres of interactive experiences.
Well… a year and a half ago Apple released a new version of the Apple TV, a set top box that connects to existing televisions and does support apps. But it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. It didn’t allow developers to utilize what I’ve come to believe is the only practical path for a small-time developer to strike it big: OPC.
This isn’t a new concept.
What preceded the iPhone? The iPod / iTunes. Did Apple produce any of the music that its device could play, or, later, when there became the iTunes Music Store, did Apple produce any of the music sold there?
What company accounts for a full third of (US) internet traffic? Netflix. Until relatively recently, did Netflix produce any of the content they were sell… renting?
What company is most responsible for the death of many brick and mortar stores in favor of online shopping? Amazon. Have you ever bought a product that was manufactured by Amazon? (Perhaps a few of you have, but not the vast majority of their customers.)
Okay, those are the big guys. What about on a smaller scale?
Are you on Facebook?
Have you seen, or taken, one of the many quizzes like:
“Which Marvel superhero are you?”
“Which Harry Potter character are you?”
“How many of these ‘80s songs can you name from the lyrics?”
“How many of these movies can you identify from one picture?”
It’s not Marvel, or the music companies or movie studios who make those quizzes.
Some much smaller company / developer is utilizing Other People’s Content to create new experiences for millions of people to consume, and for them to make money from.
So, if you’re a small-time developer that doesn’t own the rights to such content, what are you to do?
Well, you can try your hand at developing an original game, for which you will have to develop new content, in the hopes that, amongst the thousands of other games already out there, yours will be a hit. (Some developers utilize Other People’s Content in this arena as well, cloning existing popular games. Personal experience has shown me that this may result in a Cease and Desist order.)
Otherwise, your best bet is to figure out how to use Other People’s Content, legally, in a way that adds value to that existing content.
One friend of mine has done very well writing software to utilize content created by other companies’ personal weather stations.
Another friend did very well many years back with Yahoo chatroom filtering software.
I have my own ideas about what Other People’s Content I can use to create a new(ish) market niche.
Perhaps it’s time you got down with OPC.