This Week in Modern Software logoWelcome to the fourth edition of This Week in Modern Software, or TWiMS, our weekly roundup of the need-to-know news, stories, and events of interest surrounding software analytics, cloud computing, application monitoring, development methodologies, programming languages, and the myriad of other issues that influence modern software.

This week, our top story concerns Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report.

TWiMS Top Story:
Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends (Slides)Re/code

What it’s about: Death, taxes, and Mary Meeker—the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner shared her annual state of the Internet report at the Code Conference, and the Internet held its annual freak-out in turn. Meeker’s slides have become required reading for just about anyone working in the technology industry, and certainly anyone in the Web, cloud, or mobile arenas.

Why you should care: It’s always a worthwhile read for anyone who goes online, much less earns their living there. This marks 20 years of Meeker’s report. The past two decades have shown that one thing is certain: on the Internet, the more things change, the more they, uh, continue to change. Apple is the only holdover from Meeker’s original top 15 Internet companies by valuation, for example, and we’ve gone from 35 million Internet users in 1995 to 2.8 billion this year—and that’s still just 39% population penetration.

There are plenty of nuggets to mine in Meeker’s report, but one macrotrend is particularly eye-opening: the Internet’s two-decade growth chart is extraordinary, but mobility’s is simply outrageous. There are now 5.2 billion mobile phone users in the world (73% of the population), compared with 80 million (1%) in 1995, and that’s driving the next generation of Internet connectivity and usage.

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Google Announces Android MThe Verge

What it’s about: Google kicked off its eighth annual I/O developer conference by unveiling, among other things, Android M, the next release of its mammoth mobile OS. Google also announced Android Pay, updates to the Cardboard virtual reality product it announced at last year’s I/O, unlimited photo storage, and a new OS for Internet of Things (IoT) devices: Brillo, along with its corresponding Weave protocol for connecting different devices.

Why you should care: The Android M developer preview is out now, and the full release will come later this year, marking the sixth full version of its market share-gobbling platform. As reported in The Verge and a slew of other tech publications, M will include more granular app permissions for users, better battery life, improvements to its app-linking system, and other updates. Android Pay, which Google will pit against Apple Pay in the mobile payments ring, also took a bow in the spotlight.

One item that developers might care more about than consumers will: Google introduced Brillo, its lightweight OS for IoT devices, in concert with Weave, a communication protocol that will enable developers to make different smart devices talk to one another.

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A Murky Road Ahead for Android, Despite Market DominanceThe New York Times

What it’s about: On the eve of Google I/O, Farhad Manjoo tackled a topic that probably wasn’t too popular at San Francisco’s Moscone Center on Thursday: Android, in spite of its explosive growth during the past decade and global dominance in smartphone market share, faces stiff challenges in ensuring its bottom-line health.

Why you should care: It’s good to be the king, but there’s no promise you won’t be dethroned one day. That’s certainly not a sentiment you’ll see shared onstage at I/O, but Manjoo notes several challenges to Android’s business stability, not the least of which is the growing number of companies like Xiaomi that are eating into Google’s dominance in the lower end of the smartphone market—often selling devices that are running forked versions of Android, which Google gives to hardware makers for free. Perhaps it’s just a well-timed contrarian view on the cusp of Google’s huge developer event—it’s not like Google’s bank account is going to run dry any time soon—but the trends Manjoo highlights are worth keeping an eye on.


App Store Showdown Comes to the CloudThe Information (paid subscription required)

cloud illustration for this week in modern softwareWhat it’s about: As the public cloud heavyweights continue to undercut each others’ prices, budgets will become less of a competitive differentiator. As a result, the platforms themselves—not their price tags—will need to attract and retain customers. The Information reports that cloud app stores, not unlike their well-established mobile counterparts, appear likely to be key parts of those pitches.

Why you should care: Amazon, Microsoft, and Google all have some version of a marketplace offering apps built to run in their cloud environments. In Google’s case, that’s Google Cloud Launcher, which today offers mostly free open source software packages, though The Information points out it’s a pretty clear precursor of a broader marketplace. The site lists the pros and cons of each company’s current cloud marketplace offering. For developers, it’s a potentially massive new landscape for enterprise cloud apps.


Software or the Borg: A Starship’s Greatest Threat?Discovery News

What it’s about: Donna A. Dulo, a senior mathematician, computer scientist, and software/systems engineer with the U.S. Department of Defense, examines the mission-critical importance of software to long-term spacecraft travel—think starship Enterprise long-term—and the potentially dire consequences of software failures in deep space.

spaceship image for this week in modern softwareWhy you should care: If you’re annoyed when your Web browser crashes or your email gets knocked offline, imagine how you’d feel when the software systems that ensure your breathable air become corrupted. Dulo, who’s also part of the Icarus Interstellar project, asks: “Which enemy is worse: a flotilla of Star Trek baddies or a weakness in the ship’s complex software system? For those who are familiar with the highly intricate system of systems nature of software, the answer is clear; it’s the software that poses the greatest risk.”

Terms like “disaster recovery” take on a different meaning when you’re hurtling through space at warp speed; good luck manually finding that bug in a single line of code during an emergency situation, as Dulo points out. But fear not, aspiring starship captains: she ends on a positive note: “Through the coupling of resilient software engineering techniques and viable technical organizational leadership and team-centric emergency software management, a complex system has the ability to survive through a catastrophic failure, or to prevent that failure proactively.”

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Cloud and spaceship images courtesy of

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a wide variety of publications and companies. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his InformationWeek story, “Are You Too Old for IT?” He’s also a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards. View posts by .

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