The data centric trend goes hand in hand with a third challenge: the game, or app, as a service, allowing new business models that can be created, explored, and exploited. Game companies, for example, are shifting from seeing the game as a stand-alone product to something that forges an ongoing, sometimes real-time, relationship with the end-users. Instead of focusing on the one-time purchase, game companies are leveraging in-app purchasing, the sale of virtual goods, as well as real-time analysis of gaming behaviors to tweak the game's behavior and performance, optimizing it for players.
Zynga's online "FarmVille" is a good example of the impact this can have. "They realized that the game [by itself] is a very small part of this picture," Caccia says. "They monitor their data on an hourly basis and use it to make a variety of tweaks and changes."
ZYNGA INFRASTRUCTURE CTO: Making hardware cool again
Closing in on 300 million users, Zynga's model drove about $445 million (or 12%) of Facebook's total revenue in 2011, from payment processing fees related to Zynga's sales of virtual goods and from direct advertising purchased by Zynga.
The fourth challenge is the UI experience. What Caccia calls the "Retinal Standard" -- how well or even beautiful the app experience is -- is getting higher. "Once you see high-resolution, you don't go back," he says. He urges developers to see "information as beauty" and to realize that "information can be rendered beautifully."
But he suggests that this UI experience is in some ways less a function of the device than of the services the device presents. "The services 'behind' the device are becoming independent of the device itself," he argues.
If so, then an urgent question for developers is "how to make your content work on anything?" Perhaps not surprisingly for a vendor of multi-platform development tools, Caccia says "you have to start with the idea 'we'll deliver this [app or content or service] anywhere.'" He points to Netflix, which announced in early 2012 that "Together with our partners, we've shipped over 800 different models of Netflix-enabled devices ..."
"That's enormous penetration," Caccia says.
He concluded with two points summarizing his talk.
"Find ways of delighting your customers and users," he says. "And every pixel matters. Consumers respond emotionally to design."