Profiling Apple Apps Store (Part II): Its crowded out there
Two years ago, the iPhone blew away expectations for what mobile devices are capable of. Apple has the opportunity to do in mobile smartphones what Microsoft did on the desktop: Own the standard platform upon which every popular application is based. The irony of this cannot be lost on Microsoft, which has flubbed its own opportunity to do the same.And mobile devices and applications are the future of the computing industry
As the App Store has matured, so has the need to come up with more sophisticated ways to profit from it. Simply having a great application is not enough. The App Store’s success — as much a surprise to Apple as it has been to competitors — has given rise to a new digital ecosystem. Today, hundreds of software aspirants, from individuals tinkering in their bedrooms late at night to established companies looking for lucrative new revenue streams, are jumping into the App Store fray.And smart-phone manufacturers across the board are trying to make their platforms more attractive and lucrative to bring in the kind of creativity and enthusiasm that Apple has.
However the question increasingly being asked by analysts world-over is “Is it about 20,000 apps or 200,000 apps or is it about changing those 20,000 apps and their deep integration and how they interrelate to one another?” With Apple adding the numbers up briskly, the view about Apps is now beginning to shift. Palm and Research in Motion, say they don’t need an avalanche of applications to compete.
It is much more interesting to change the applications and changing the user experience and really unlocking the promise and the money and revenue opportunity for the ecosystem. Thus the story is changing from too many apps to a limited number of meaningful apps: Apps which integrate into the user’s activities and lives and are used as a necessity.
Most phones will end up being smart-phones. There will be more services and new ways to monetize and more consumption. Growth is a given; it’s just a question of who is going to innovate in the right way to drive that value proposition to capture that growth.
Microsoft, which analysts have criticized for its sluggish approach to the smartphone market, also says it is emphasizing quality for the application store it introduced in October, Windows Marketplace for Mobile.“Our strategy is to look holistically at how we can provide the best all-around user experience,” says Victoria Grady, director of mobile strategy at Microsoft. The Marketplace now has more than 800 apps.
Many developers and analysts think Google’s mobile operating system, most recently placed in the Motorola Droid, may evolve into the fiercest competitor to the iPhone.
Android unique applications are no longer limited to a single device. The growing number of Android-powered phones available on multiple wireless carriers increases the financial opportunity for developers. An year back, Android just had 1 handset which has now increase to close to dozen. Android volumes are going up at a tremendous pace, and the developer ecosystem is seeing that.
Unlike Apple, Google has eschewed a review process, allowing any developer to publish an application to the Android Marketplace, its version of the App Store, instantly. About 14,000 applications are available for Android-powered smartphones.
Apple has another strong advantage: the iPhone offers developers a uniform, standard platform. When, a developer creates an application for the iPhone, he knows how it’s going to run exactly as you tested it on every single model. The same isn’t true for the rest of the smartphones, which have varying screen sizes, processor speeds and form factors.
HOWEVER the competitive landscape shapes up, the App Store phenomenon shows no signs of slowing. IDC, a technology research firm, predicts that the number of iPhone apps will triple next year, fueled by the growing popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices. Along the way, analysts say, the App Store will continue to upend the architecture of the smartphone business and threaten competitors that don’t have vibrant and extensive offerings.
This changes the way the smartphone industry operates. Each handset company would come up with its latest iterations and maybe have the hottest device of the season or not. With apps in the equation, all that changes. It goes from being a product cycle game to a platform game.