Ecosystems: Effects On Careers

Last column I discussed how ecosystems in technology – those unified technology products like Apple makes and everyone else wants to make – are a big trend in tech.  Considering recent news and developments, I'd say the existence of this trend is fairly obvious.  What is not always obvious is what it means for we progeeks and our careers and ambitions.

Wanting to cover the career impact because, hey it's what I do, I'll look at different areas of work and media and how ecosystems impact them.  This "divided up" method should make organizing and communicating my thoughts easier.  If I miss anything while doing it this way, call me on it.

And now, the impacts:


  • Starting Programmers may have to "pick a side" in their development as I expect ecosystems will have strict rules and coding standards.
  • Programmers will also have to learn to "switch sides" as needed for their careers.
  • Companies developing for multiple ecosystems will have a harder time with code reuse and overspecialization of developers.
  • Programmers will need to be aware of "who's on top" to plan their careers.
  • Android may benefit from the "pick a side" issues that can arise because it's A) Linux, and B) easier to get anywhere.
  • Be prepared for some amazing failures in Ecosystem technology, so look to know where you are when the game of musical chairs stop.

Media Development and Publishing:

  • Formatting hell is a possibility – take it from someone who has to convert books into four formats.  This will depend on the media you produce.
  • Delivery is also going to be weird as there are companies arising (Netflix, OnLive) who specialize in getting your stuff to a platform, and you'll have to deal with them.
  • Copyright, broadcast, and usage issues will be problems for larger media, as we've already seen.  Expect some legal nightmares on broadcast payments, residuals, rights, etc.
  • The ability for anyone to put out a piece of media will clash with the limits imposed by the  many formats and the few gatekeepers out there.


  • Multiple platform games and game spinoffs is already the norm.  This will continue to be the norm.
  • Getting games to platforms in an ecosystem will result in both more hoops to jump through, but also, hopefully, better support and marketing advantages- the advantage of getting through the process.
  • Technical issues of ecosystems that affect games won't be easily worked around – they'll be part of the system.


  • Marketing of ecosystems is going to focus on, well, ecosystems.  If you do advertising in tech, get ready to think big.
  • Marketing of products in an ecosystem (software, media, etc.) is going to have to tell people what ecosystems its on, and keep any limits in mind.  Also, be bloody sure that the deals are signed.
  • Ecosystems will be pitted against each other.  Expect marketing and advertising to get nasty and almost personal – because when people buy into an ecosystem it becomes part of their identity (ever heard people argue over game consoles?).


  • You're going to have to think ecosystems when you adopt corporate technology.
  • More ecosystems further accelerates the CorpTechPocalypse – because it's easier to just pick one.
  • Ecosystems may accelerate the adaption of SaaS since almost anything out there has a browser.

So my thoughts on a few areas where ecosystems and the move towards making more of them affects our careers.  your thoughts?

Steven Savage