C++ Powers $1 Trillion+ in Global Revenue

The Impact of the Programming Language Known as C++

Some people know that C++ is used in major software platforms, but the extent to which this language fuels the creation of solutions that collectively contribute to a pool of revenue approaching a trillion dollars is probably right in front of us. My awareness of this grew from a question I answered on Quora about the best programmer of all time. I cited the pair that created C++ and the C++ STL as having the biggest impact on client software. Bjarne Stroustrup, who helped define C++, keeps a list of software written in the language.

When you consider the bottom-line impact of these programs, you realize that C++ is a major tool in high revenue software. Major solutions of C++ include the Google Search Engine; Amazon.com’s eCommerce Engine; and the collection of business enterprise software produced by Microsoft. A person who applies C++ may not intend to go the commercial journey. The market impact is a measure that shows that the language has proven itself for critical mass.

The C programming language is actually larger as it is used to create the things that run things that are the appliances other things use to run. Those appliances are operating systems, routers, watches, tablets, web servers, and sensor kits used by the upper level things. That leads to direct or derivative solutions that collectively number in the low trillions of dollars as of 2015. This will grow.

Back to C++, it is the leading language for the most powerful user facing solutions. Mobile app advertising revenues for free apps is fairly large as a group. A good, streamlined mobile app can bring in substantial ad revenues regardless of programming language used to create it.

While not guaranteed, when you remove ad revenue as the funding source, an app written in C++ could have an edge. A paid app, single purchase or subscription, could be well served by C++. The track record of blockbuster programs written using C++ may favor well-written apps in that language versus paid offering written in other languages. An exception would be C itself (see Angry Birds and SDL).

The C++ is not as straightforward as more productive alternatives. It favors less well in some scenarios that are about running a technology environment indoors. As a solution for a diverse audience however with critical operational requirements, the productivity deficits are compensated by the end result. The overall facilities that C++ makes available makes a genuine difference in substantial software, nominally user facing software and application level engines, of the most critical kind. That is the value of C++ shown by its impact in software widely adopted or highly valued in cost to acquire.


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