Software development and the App Store
When Apple introduced the App Store in 2008, it gave developers a very easy way to sell and distribute software applications to end users and gave end users a very easy way to buy and install these apps.
The App Store created a central point where all developers and users could go to sell and buy software applications. This is good on one hand, but it is very bad on the other.
The evil side of the App Store
Convenience has accelerated the commoditization of the software applications industry.
Today most of the very good apps are free, which means that developers must add value through web services or virtual goods consumed within the apps. These services are more complex and require more capital and workforce to run; so what was supposed to be good for small, talented developers have become an obstacle due to the intense competition.
3D designs App Stores
If the current trend continues, 3D designers are going to end in the same place as software developers. New 3D design catalogs and marketplaces are being created more and more often.
On the other hand, 3D printers and manufacturers are creating intelligent and easy-to-use CAD and 3D design software applications in order to sell more printers. This is breaking down the barrier to enter the 3D design industry. People will soon be able to create designs that would currently require expensive professional designers.
At the end of the process, in those stores, talented designers creating wonderful designs will be mixed up with not so talented ones who, with the help of software, have created “sellable” designs. In other words, 3D designs will end up being a commodity.
How can we avoid being caught in this process?
The process I have described is neither good nor bad; it is a natural process in any industry. The difference is that in the digital goods market everything happens at a very high speed. For that reason, if you are thinking about starting a new business in 3D printing, you should look at the software industry very carefully.
Digital means fast creation and distribution, but it also means piracy and heavy competition
What we need to embrace is personalisation. But not just allowing users to change the color of a design or slightly modify the shape of a piece; we need to help consumers to find their own current style and identity and match them with a designer who can quickly put together what the customer really wants.
The one-day delivery present in current online stores will become one-week delivery of a unique, personalized piece.
To be able to do that, stores must change their current approach. Stores are created with only one goal: to sell more. Instead, they must be prepared to sell better. This will allow designers and makers to increase their margins and at the same time, they will create more satisfied customers.
Massive customization in 3D designs requires a completely different type of store. Current catalogs are just not enough; they will only accelerate the commoditization of the industry.
If you see a different trend in the 3D design industry, please let me know!
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