So it is official: Apple says it has more than 100,000 apps in its iTunes App Store, a bit of news that was reported by AppShopper and Mobclix last week. In terms of landmarks, 100,000 is merely a number, soon to be forgotten as the amount of apps crosses 200,000 or a million or whatever. Why it matters is that these growing number of applications are making our smartphones more personal — even more personal than our PCs.
A mobile phone is more personal than a PC because it ties in our real identities, location and personality. It accords a level of intimacy that the browser-based web and our PCs don’t have. Unlike a toaster oven or a grill or a TV, a malfunctioning handset can make you so angry that you write a break-up letter and publish it with your phone. A missed call is the difference between a broken heart and happily ever after. An SMS can make you smile if it arrives on time. No other device in our life has the purity of a phone…and not just an iPhone.
Apple’s reluctant foray — don’t forget that for the longest time it said every service should be delivered via the web browser — into apps actually taps into the very emotional relationship we have with our devices. And that is why many people (if not all) don’t much care for being advertised to on this most personal of platforms. Apps have made an iPhone into an e-reader and a portable game machine. I predict that with the right apps it can also become a personal wellness device.
As the number of apps continues to grow, the company will needs to focus on the discoverability of the applications. App discovery is vital for developers who need to sell applications in order to make money. If they don’t make money, then they shift loyalties to other platforms including Android, which is not going to be a pushover.
So what is Apple going to do next? It’s going to increase the “personal” quotient on its App Store. Think the genius feature on steroids! More app recommendations and more automatic discovery of apps based on our usage might be in our future.