Thursday, July 30, 2009

The app economy

Interesting discussion in The Guardian about the rise of the app economy, or the revenue shares between Apple, developers and advertisers from the large - and, for Apple, somewhat unexpected - surge in demand for iPhone applications.

Tube Exits is just one of an estimated 100,000 apps that will exist by the end of this year. Apps are mobile applications designed to be used on smartphones such as iPhones or BlackBerrys or devices such as the iPod Touch. Ilja Laurs, chief executive of GetJar, a leading independent application store, told the MobileBeats conference in San Francisco earlier this month that apps could be bigger than the internet by 2020. Some 65,000 apps are currently available for Apple's iPhones from the corporation's App Store, which marked its first anniversary earlier this summer. But in that year, the apps industry has grown exponentially – the total number of Apple's App Store downloads recently passed the 1.5bn mark.

The App Store's success is reportedly a surprise to Apple, but presumably an even bigger and nastier one to competitors such as Research in Motion (who make BlackBerrys) and Nokia (the world's biggest mobile phone maker). The App Store's staggering success has led nearly every maker of a smartphone operating system to mimic Apple's business model: make it very easy for smartphone users to buy or freely download software created by from third-party developers.

At the moment Apple has something of a stranglehold on apps: Tube Exits is typical in that it can only be used on Apple mobile hardware (ie iPhones and iPod Touches). Apple has even won, if unwittingly, the battle of nomenclature: apps could have just as easily been called programmes or software but instead they are called apps, echoing the corporation's first syllable and thus stressing their seemingly umbilical link to one particular supplier of smartphone hardware.

What are apps? Some are games (such as Who Has The Biggest Brain?, which was played by 25 million people on the internet before being launched as an iPhone app, and its rival The Moron Test), some are silly (one allows you to download the image of a fan on to the screen of your iPhone, the aim being to make you feel cooler), some are edifying (one app consists of an audiobook of Hegel's Lectures on the Philosophy of History, whose text scrolls on the phone's screen as you hear it read aloud). Among the most popular is a now venerable one called iBeer, which transforms your iPhone into the simulation of a beer glass. Tilt it to your mouth and you seem to be drinking beer. There is even a way of seeming to pour virtual beer from one iPhone to another. And they say technology is all about progress.

Full article here.

1 comment:

whoinsamhill said...

When the light bulb was first invented wasn't wearing battery powered bulbs a fad? Come to think of it the flashers on some athletic shoes might be a carry over.