Another Round Of App-lause

22 06 2012

It’s another one of those exciting days in Tech Land in which Apple announces what it is doing next. Rumors have been swirling for days amid the hype and hoopla leading up to today’s WWDC. The only thing missing was Steve Jobs himself.

Among the announcements concerning all the bells and whistles, new features, and retina screens coming to MacBook Pros, there were some very cool numbers trotted out. Apple lives and dies by numbers. Well, mostly lives. And profits handsomely. In fact, today an analysts predicted that Apple stock will hit $1650 by 2015. What I found more compelling, though, were the stats about apps.

Recall once more that the iPhone has only been with us for five years. During this time, some 650,000 apps have been introduced, 30 billion have been sold, and Apple’s App Store has 400 million customer accounts.

That’s a lot of credit cards on file.

Sure, Google’s Android Store went from 0-to-60 faster (500,000 apps and 15 billion sold in 18 months), but one would expect that from a follower. After all, Apple paved the road on which Google cruises.

But the very subject of these apps is one screaming for a closer look, which is code for academic research. “Ah…now I get it,” my students sing in unison. “That’s what that survey invitation was all about!”

As I discussed yesterday, five years ago no one knew how this thing was going to unfold. We knew the paradigm was shifting, but we didn’t where or how. Our goal in the study is to try to get a better idea of how people use apps on both smartphones and tablet devices. While there is some overlap in the Venn diagram of apps, there are also a lot of distinct uses that keep the two categories of devices separate but related.

There are many areas ripe for study, such as how much money people are willing to spend on an app. For example, is $1 the new dime in terms of risk assumption? How long do people use an app before they forget they even have it? And how many apps do people have on their phones and tablets (I have well over 200 on my phone, but probably only use a dozen or so with any regularity).

As for Apple, they are beyond “getting rich.” No, they are bloody stinking rich, and only getting richer. Google’s foray into mobile devices is much like the Microsoft model, in which an operating system and software are offered but little else. Apple, on the other hand, is perfectly integrated and sells the OS, software and hardware. While Google and Apple are running neck-and-neck right now in terms of current stock price, the future is much rosier for Apple because of its revenue model. Google makes about $10 for each Android installation, with the remaining profit going to the hardware maker. Apple keeps it all.

The numbers guy in me loves today’s report, because it means that, if we consider only the USA, 96 apps have been sold to roughly every man, woman and child. That’s a lot of apps. That’s a lot of things we do with our phones and tablets. And that is one hell of a paradigm shifted in only five years.

Dr “What’s Your App-titude?” Gerlich



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