Iron Man could become an app developer role model

Shane Schick

He has fought--and won--battles against warlords, terrorists and (with his fellow Avengers) invaders from outer space. Can it really be that difficult for Iron Man to take on smartphone users?

According to a recent story in The Hollywood Reporter, a new comic book series called Superior Iron Man will be arriving in November that sees Tony Stark, the hero's alter ego who was played by Robert Downey Jr. in the popular films, pursue a project that has less do to with sophisticated hardware and more to do with mobile software.

"Written by Tom Taylor and drawn by Yildray Cinar, the series will see Tony Stark move to the San Francisco Bay Area to promote the launch of a new mobile app that tempts users with the possibility of physical perfection and, perhaps, immortality," according to the Reporter.

Leave it to Tony Stark, who risked his entire empire in the lucrative armed weapons business to spend his time on technology that could help him seek vigilante justice, to aim big in the mobile app space. (Of course, my first question is whether the Iron Man mobile app started on iOS--you can see similarities between the control-freak Stark and the Messianic Steve Jobs--or, since Stark himself combines man and machine, on Android.)

As fantastical as this next Iron Man series will be, there also could be some inspiration here for real-life app developers who want to steal a little of the Stark Industries swagger the next time they submit something to an app store. 

The best developers tend to have a unique feel for the impulses that drive mainstream consumers. This can be something as simple as being more productive or escaping from the everyday, but improving your looks and living forever? Those are universal dreams. 

Part of what makes app development so appealing, meanwhile, is the relative openness within the market for newcomers. Tony Stark has no history in mobile apps, but that doesn't stop him from heading to the city some of the biggest publishers call home. I also imagine him having no trouble barnstorming conferences like Google I/O or Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, perhaps blasting into his keynote slot wearing his full armor, while close associates (like wife/assistant Pepper Pots) pore over the dashboards of analytical data to make sure the app's downloads, engagement rates and other metrics are where they are supposed to be. App development studios that thrive combine these traits of powerful showmanship with business rigor on the back end. 

Tony Stark also has something else in common with many developers: other roles and responsibilities which conflict with his dreams of app success. The nature of comic books suggests that, while promoting the app, some kind of new villain will emerge that forces him to put on his Iron Man suit and save the day. Developers with day jobs, families or health issues can be equally distracted, even though they aren't considered superheroes for juggling such things. 

I can't wait to see what the reaction is like when this comic book comes out. It'll be interesting to see what comments those in the real-world app economy make. It's not easy forging your way to installs and revenue. You have to be tough--maybe even tougher than Iron Man.--Shane

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