The programmability of smartphones is a crucial feature, since it transforms a cell phone into a pocket-sized computer. Since 2008, when popular operating system providers allowed independent developers to write application software (Apps), the number of Apps has spurred and led many commentators in popular discourse to quickly embrace a new App revolution. Despite the hype, there is a serious dearth of empirical studies exploring the politics and practices of how software is written for smartphones. From the perspective of the Social Shaping of Technology, which emphasizes that the development of any technological artefact is negotiated amid relevant groups, we explore how expert users, in particular, independent developers, are negotiating the development of smartphones by creating Apps. Due to the inherent qualities of software and the practices of user participation, we argue that App development has the potential of increasing user participation not only at the usage stage, but also with respect to the process of design and development. Based on semi-structured interviews with 20 developers from 12 different countries, we identify how this newly emerging group is negotiating the development of smartphones and discover the structural limitations that the group is encountering in the process.

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ERMeCC - Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
Information, Communication and Society
Department of Media and Communication

Mosemghvdlishvili, L., & Jansz, J. (2013). Negotiability of technology and its limitations: The politics of App development. Information, Communication and Society, 16(10), 1596–1618. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.735252