App-titude

31 01 2010

In today’s technoscape, it seems that nearly all the attention is on Apple. They can hardly do wrong (with the possible exception being iPad, a name that was quickly corrupted by some to iTampon and other less-flattering monikers). Still with 40 million iPhones sold worldwide, well over 6 billion song downloads at iTunes, and gazillions of apps sold or given away at the App store, it’s hard to argue with their success.

Surely the computer geeks in Redmond WA (Microsoft) and Mountain View CA (Google) must be shaking in their boots.

Actually, no.

You see, while everyone may be abuzz about the iPhone and the 135,000 apps now available for it, there is a growing number of analysts who think that the App Store’s days may be numbered. And here’s why. Google’s Android operating system is not limited to just one phone; it is currently available on at least 20 different devices. There are now some 10,000 apps for Android alone, and the fact that it is open-source leaves developers with a much better taste in their mouth than that of a rotten Apple.

While 40 million phones is nothing to sneeze at, consider that within a couple of years, everyone will have a smartphone. And Apple’s share of that pie will likely shrink. The novelty may be high now, but it is going to drop. With app developers increasingly growing disenchanted with Apple’s strident demands, they will be looking elsewhere.

Now consider this: With a fragmented market, the only thing that can result is confusion. What is needed is a platform that will work across all phones. It is horribly inefficient to have to create apps for every phone or operating system. The funny thing is, the answer has been in front of our eyes all along. It is the web app, one that works in a mobile browser.

While everyone and their brother will likely continue to push their iPhone apps for the short term, expect the Next Big Thing to be the mobile app. And lest anyone think that apps of any stripe are still uncharted waters, consider that many folks said the same thing about web sites a decade ago. And you see where that got them. While web sites are rather passe these days, they are still a requirement, just as is having a basic business card to distribute at meetings and luncheons.

And phone apps will likewise be as ubiquitous, offering the same levels of interactivity as current web sites. Don’t have one? Welcome to the dinosaur graveyard.

I just hope Steve Jobs finds something else to do by then. It’s been a nice run, but the apples are starting to fall off the tree. And I don’t see any blossoms forming.

Dr “Sorry To Upset The Apple Cart” Gerlich

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One response

31 01 2010
Price Hall

As an iPhone user, I can honestly say the magic of the app store has definitely worn off for me. I think the device itself is great (minus the horrid service from AT&T), but do I really need a fart or lightsaber sound app on my smartphone? I mean, I love inserting cats into candid photos (with the “catpaint” app!) and drinking virtual beers, but after 5 minutes you quickly realize that the apps you actually use to better your life are pretty much available on all Android/Blackberry/WinMo/Palm WebOS handsets.

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