FORTUNE — Apple’s (AAPL) devices get more than their share of media and investor attention. But like Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook (FB) and Amazon (AMZN), Apple is, at its heart, a software company.
So argues Asymco’s Horace Dediu in a provocative essay posted Tuesday that makes the case that it’s software, not hardware, that has enabled the disruption of consumer electronics, retail, computers, advertising and broadcast media.
Among the sectors at risk, he says, are gaming, television, shopping, dining, entertainment, hospitality and communications.
Together, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play have racked up more than 50 billion (repeat, billion) installs in less than four years (see chart above). “Within one year,” Dediu predicts, “these software capsules are going to be in use by one fourth of the global population.”
Why does this matter? His answer:
Dediu’s essay is titled “The Omnivorous App,” and you can get it here.