How Apple, Google, and Microsoft are Building a New Generation of Young Coders
By James Gonzales
(Aragon Research) – The introduction of easily understood coding languages by major players has given children the opportunity to quickly learn the basics of coding. Major Tech Titans such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft are in a race to make coding easier for everyone and young people are some of the fastest adopters. This blog analyzes the market implications of young children learning to code.
Minecraft: Education Edition, Scratch, and Swift Make Their Mark
Google launched Scratch in 2013 and ScratchJr in 2014; Microsoft launched Minecraft Education Edition in 2016; and Apple launched Swift Language in 2014 and Swift Playgrounds in June of 2017. All offer an introduction to code that allows inspired kids to create code to do everything from playing computer games (Minecraft Education Edition); to creating interactive stories and games (ScratchJr); to building and controlling robotics, flying drones, or even playing musical instruments (Swift Playgrounds). Even very young children can learn to code. ScratchJr is aimed at children ages 5-7, and Apple’s new Swift Playgrounds takes Swift and turns it into a fun, interactive app for the iPad. Over the course of the last four years, the user base of Swift and Scratch combined has reached a little over 24 million, and Minecraft Education Edition has seen 100 million copies sold (note: Minecraft used to be free and now it is $5 per user per year).
The launch of these languages presents today’s children with a unique opportunity that previous generations have not had; specifically, children can learn to code quickly and thus begin to understand the conceptual and practical applications of coding. The learning potential is huge, and this trend of children learning to code will have an indelible impact on enterprises in the future.
Coding Begins in the Classroom
As we have seen in recent history, literacy rates have increased exponentially, allowing for a well-educated public, a larger supply of skilled labor, and what seems to be endless innovation. Easily understood and applied coding languages are the next step. The language that dictates the digital world will soon be a common language among people. Swift, Scratch, and Minecraft Education Edition are being implemented in classrooms around the globe and can be accessed by anyone with a computer. So how will this affect the marketplace? For one, it will lower the barriers to entry.
A common problem faced by entrepreneurs who want to enter tech is their lack of knowledge with code. They either need to develop a trustworthy team who knows code, outsource labor (which can be expensive), or begin to learn on their own. But understanding code at a level high enough to compete in the marketplace can be extremely time consuming and for many, it requires formal instruction. So, these new introductions to code are an ideal tool for those looking to grasp the fundamentals of code.
But I think the real focus is on the younger generation, and the amount of talent and creativity that will be tapped into with early exposure. With the continual education of code starting at a young age, made possible by intelligible coding languages, the three barriers to entry will substantially lessen.
What A Lower Barrier to Entry Means for Businesses
The first implication is a renaissance of new app development. During WWDC 2017, Tim Cook gave a shout out to Yuma Soerianto, a 10-year-old from Australia, who already has 5 apps in the app store; I believe this will soon be commonplace among those who have the opportunity in elementary school to begin learning code.
In addition to people easily being able to enter the market of app development, due to their early introduction to code, the supply of programmers should increase. Typically, we would expect lower wages as the supply of labor increases while demand is constant. The result could be businesses innovating at a faster rate because their capital can be used to hire a larger quantity of programmers and start-ups won’t have to raise as much money to have a competent team who can code.
We’re entering into a new era where coding will soon become a common skill among the average knowledge worker, especially the young knowledge worker. The economic impacts will only be beneficial for consumers and enterprises, and the potential for innovation will accelerate.