The software industry is the collection of businesses and individuals who actively pursue the development and publication of computer software in a professional capacity. While it can include amateur and hobby software developers as well, the industry is primarily dominated by professional software developers. As computers and computer software have become increasingly important in a number of different businesses and aspects of daily life, the industry has also become increasingly important and profitable. The software industry typically includes companies and people who develop software for a number of different reasons, including software for recreational use, professional software used in other industries, and firmware that combines certain attributes of software and hardware.
Software typically refers to computer programs and applications processed and run by a computer, often through interaction and interfacing with a computer user. This is in contrast with hardware that refers to the physical devices and equipment used by a person, such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and internal components of a computer. The software industry is, therefore, involved in the production of computer software rather than hardware. There can be some overlap between the hardware and software industries, as software is often developed to run with particular types of hardware or tested to ensure compatibility with certain hardware.
The software industry developed alongside the computer industry, especially the proliferation of computers for home and business uses. As computers became increasingly important, there was greater and greater call for computer programs and software that could accomplish new and more complicated tasks. The software industry developed in response to this call and now is comprised of hundreds, if not thousands, of companies and developers making everything from computer games and media players to antivirus programs and video editing software.
As software has become more prevalent in other aspects of technology, the software industry has moved beyond applications and programs that are apparent to the user. The development and use of firmware — a software program installed onto a piece of hardware that is not directly accessed by a hardware user — has become an increasingly important aspect of the software industry. This has allowed the industry to move beyond just software in terms of applications, and has made the development of software integral to everything from automotive and aeronautical engineering to designing printers and mobile phones.