Quantum Software Ecosystem Summary

Mckinsey Quantum Technology Monitor April 2023

Quantum Software Ecosystem Summary

The quantum software ecosystem is growing quickly, with both systems software and application software gaining traction. This article explores the current state and potential of these segments, including full-stack providers and hardware-agnostic solutions. Read more to learn about the evolving quantum software market.

Quantum Software Ecosystem Summary

The quantum software ecosystem is rapidly evolving, with both systems software and application software segments gaining momentum. Lets take a closer look at the current state and potential of these two segments. 

Systems Software

In the systems software market, we find two main categories of players: full-stack providers and dedicated software providers. While full-stack players offer programming languages specifically designed for their own quantum hardware, dedicated software providers offer hardware-agnostic solutions that can be used across different quantum architectures. 

The top 5 quantum programming languages are Python, Qiskit, Ocean, Q#, and Cirq. Source

Players offering Quantum error correction software are Q-ctrl. 

Some systems software players offering dedicated control software for quantum hardware are Keysight and Quantum Machines. 

Leading systems software solutions currently exist in prototype form and are predominantly open source. These existing solutions are apt for the small-scale quantum hardware accessible today, but they necessitate additional development to adequately support large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computers.  

Application Software

The application software market, while still in its early stages, has seen significant progress in recent years. Key players in this segment include hardware and systems software providers offering full-stack solutions. These companies operate across various industries, with specific focus areas in finance, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.

Unlike off-the-shelf products, the current business models in the application software market are often based on exploratory research projects conducted in collaboration with industry. Developing end-to-end quantum solutions for business problems is a complex process that can take years. However, due to the wide range of potential quantum applications in different sectors, the application software market is far from saturated.

Interestingly, some players in this segment have chosen to focus on developing quantum-inspired algorithms. These algorithms, while running on classical hardware, incorporate principles and ideas from quantum computing. They have shown great promise and offer a pathway to realize value even without a fault-tolerant quantum computer.


Jonathan Liu