You’ve probably underestimated just how big this is

I met a team at a mobile dev shop a couple of weeks ago and in the discussion I casually mentioned that mobile app usage exceeds web usage. Eyebrows were raised. I couldn’t remember where I’d heard it. No big deal, everyone knows mobile is important, we moved on.

It bothered me afterwards though so I checked my facts and found it again on Flurry’s blog – it’s true, Mobile Apps Put the Web in Their Rear-view Mirror. That’s a big shift, unexpected to many, but you guys are probably nodding to yourselves. You know this stuff right?

Stop.

What if I told you that people who right now are developing standard web apps will actually spend most of their next 10 years writing mobile apps? Too far? Before you judge, consider this:

According to Flurry consumers spend 72 minutes web browsing each day:

How many web sites are competing for that time? I asked Howmanythereare.net and turned up 346M. What about mobile apps competing for those 94 minutes? Well, 400,000 Android apps was considered big enough to make the news.

What the headline should be is that consumers are leaving web developers behind. And so those that can follow quickly have a HUGE opportunity. Forget a few hundred thousand, there are going to be tens of millions of mobile apps available to consumers in the next few years. App goldrush over? Difficult to be visible on mobile? I don’t think so – not even close. The graph is going to look a bit like this where now is 1997 (logarithmic scale):

The number of Internet websites each year since the Web’s founding.

Many will be more advanced than desktop equivalents taking advantage of location data, push notifications, camera and features currently under lock and key in Cupertino, Mountain View and Seattle. Some will be billion-dollar businesses in their own right, mobile first, and maybe mobile only.

Infrastructure will be built to support those apps and businesses behind them: middleware, development tools, libraries, open source projects, cloud services. More billion dollar companies.

Now this really is a cursory review of the numbers but seeing them makes me think we’re sleepwalking into a revolution. We think we know that mobile is big because of the fast adoption so far. But actually we’re underestimating 100x how big this change is and what it’ll mean for developers. I know I did, and mobile is my business. So did the pros I met a few week ago who already write mobile apps for a living. What do you think?

If you’re a web developer and this inspired you to go mobile: we hope you get started with us.