Thursday, July 22, 2010

More on the App Economy

I know I've already blogged once about why I'm a fan of the app economy, but there's even more, as evidenced by this Fortune article.

I'll give you all a break and summarize the article: Apple provides engineers to colleges to teach app programming classes free of charge.

Really, that's the set up.

Here's what I like: colleges get the benefit of a free professor teaching a relevant, real world type of class. This is great for students, because so often professors get all caught up in how much they love their subject, and the theory behind it, that they forget that their students have to go out and get jobs and actually apply the material to the real world.

If you're wondering what Apple gets out of this arrangement, aside from great PR, it's a chance to take a look at up-and-coming engineering talent, as well as a fresh look at what today's youth thinks actually will make a good app. It's sort of an engineering/consumer survey class all rolled up into one.

Here's the risk: this may be the start of a trend where large companies provide area experts for free to top colleges and universities to specifically train students to think and act the way the company wants them to. I'm not sure this is appropriate. If you follow the notion that people learn more from their mistakes than their successes, this might inhibit learning. In my graduate school program, the classes in which I learned the most were the ones where I also struggled the most.

I'm not saying Apple is out to make an army of cloned engineers, and as it's know as an innovative company, surely it understands the value of providing students with a set of tools and letting them run with them.

I would just caution against too many companies providing too many professors to too many universities, as this may, at some point, stifle innovation and creativity, the very backbone of a growing economy.


  1. I recently posted on Fb a set of NYT opinion pieces that get at what you're talking about here - check them out:

  2. Thanks! I can't wait to read them!