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Summary:

This past Friday, Apple advertised iPhone apps in the New York Times and also mentioned that there have been 300 million app downloads. While most people realize this is pretty amazing, there are some comments quickly rushing to pour water on the app store’s fire… How […]

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This past Friday, Apple advertised iPhone apps in the New York Times and also mentioned that there have been 300 million app downloads. While most people realize this is pretty amazing, there are some comments quickly rushing to pour water on the app store’s fire…

How many of those 300 million were free apps?

Apparently this is supposed to matter since it would show that Apple isn’t making a lot of money here. So what? It wasn’t Apple’s plan to make a lot of money on the app store. This should be obvious from the fact that they take only 30% of the cost of sold apps, and host free ones for nothing. That’s hardly a model designed to make a big profit. The app store is about content, and people using that content to make the device better for them.

How many of the apps are still in use?

Who cares? I’ve probably deleted 5-10 apps after deciding that alternative apps were better. The beauty is that I can download the apps, try a few, and pick what works for me. If a user downloads an app and doesn’t like it, that does not reflect badly on Apple or the App Store (though it might on the developer).

Is Apple counting updates as Downloads?

Really? I think this is a bit of a reach. I can’t be the only one who would be shocked if this were true. The App Store knows exactly how many unique apps (i.e., not updates) I’ve downloaded, so why would they count anything else? Heck, it seems to me it’s easier for Apple to track the uniques than the updates.

Most of the apps are crap anyway.

This may be true, but if it’s a good enough business model for Windows PC software then it’s good enough for the app store. OK, just kidding, but my point is that the vast majority of everything is “crap.” This is true of software as much as literature, TV shows, Movies, Music, etc. So? Again, this is not a bad reflection on either the app store or Apple.

The bottom line is that Nokia, RIM, Microsoft, etc. would love to have a one-stop shopping solution that’s as integrated into their devices, easy to use, and navigate as the App Store. Something even the average user has no problem using. Further, they’d love to have a user base that has shown a definite desire and ability to use that store. Apple has it, they don’t.

  1. I agree with your thesis that no matter what it is amazing.

    I must say however, as a developer that your first question, how many where free apps, does matter to me. Mostly because it is important to me to know if the iPhone is a valid market for some of my apps to make money.

    With that said I like your post. Most every time I have seen these questions it is to try and damper the iPhones success. The iPhone has been a success whether people like it or not.

  2. Sam:

    Though making money through sales of apps is obviously the way to go for most, there still is an alternative – ad based programs. Most of the free apps have these annoying ads. I can deal with them for a bit since the app is free. Even at 99 cents – I’ve purchased some apps. Or Dl a free limited app – and move on to the paid full blown app. These are all avenues of generating revenue.

  3. Any WinMo or Palm user will tell you that iPhone apps are nothing but crap. Palm users are always saying about any app that lands on the iPhone has been done years ago on the Palm and runs better on the Palm. It seems difficult to believe since the iPhone hardware is probably better than what even the latest Treo has, but maybe they think that the Palm SDK is much more efficient that the iPhone SDK. I’m not really sure. I can guess that by now, both the Palm and WinMo platforms must have 50,000 to 100,000 apps by now since they’ve been around for such a long time. I’m sure there are lots of duplicate applications on those platforms, too. I had thought that apps for these platforms were more expensive than what is offered for the iPhone. When I checked the Handango site, game apps were a bit more expensive than iPhone apps. However, iPhone users are always saying that iPhone games are too expensive even at $4.99. That price doesn’t seem outrageous, but I guess it’s a relative thing.

    One thing that puzzles me is that if the Palm and WinMo platforms are so good, why are they losing market share and Palm the company nearly gone. Both are completely open platforms and that’s what supposedly everyone wants, yet developers are still happily building for the iPhone. Go figure.

  4. Partners in Grime Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    I’ve bought more games and apps from the App Store since it opened than in 10 years.

  5. Developers are flocking to the iPhone App Store because it make them money for less work than it takes to make the same amount of money developing and marketing a Palm or Windows Mobile applications.

    Because there are so many apps now at the App Store, and only 100 slots for the top applications, developers HAVE to do their own marketing for their applications outside of the App Store. The App Store cannot give them enough exposure to do this.

    Ideally, Apple should expand their Top 100 to include a Top 1000 Applications. This would make it easier for Applications to get noticed and get more free publicity.

    But most likely, developers will have to market their product to get it noticed.

    For example, they can sent PR notices to MacSurfer, MacNewsNetwork, etc. to get initial notification of their application.

    They should have their own web page about the application.

    This is O.K. – it is the old way of doing it. Marketing.

    Some developers complain about the drive to lower prices. But there is also a drive to raise prices. This is all about real world competition, supply-demand forces.

    Good applications, such as the recently added medical databases, can legitimately cost $200 each. A physician would not balk at getting them. They are worth it.

    Marketing applications is the next step in the evolution of applications for the iPhone.

  6. I agree with you 100%! 300 million downloads in a mere 5 months is nothing short of miraculous and Apple downers know it – there just jealous! Trust me, if Nokia, Microsoft or whom ever had that many downloads in such a short period of time, they would be shouting it from the roof tops.

  7. Palm apps BETTER than iPhone? NOW who’s drinking the Kool-Aid? I had a Palm back in the day…..I guarantee you that those apps were clunky and un-intuitive…nowhere near as smooth and elegant most of the iPhone apps.

  8. What Apple Can Learn From MacHeist Monday, April 6, 2009

    [...] has already proven the App Store is a profitable business model, and MacHeist proves there’s a market for [...]

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