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Summary:

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 […]

appleappsarebigSo 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.

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But there is a flip side to the growth in the number of apps, and as a result, the Apple’s App Store juggernaut may face challenges including the Android platform, as previously noted.

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.

Stay tuned!

  1. Well I can only say what will not happen.
    I proposed to both Steve’s the generation of user applications, based on simple math. As more users generated apps as more overlap, as easier to apply economies of scale to generate most of these apps automatically. All the while app developers could provide and sell widgets to the users, which would drive down new code even more.
    But there might be hope for Android, since it’s naturally works around the fragmentation issue. Since the user doesn’t have to worry about his particular version, he will get what he’s looking for. Google is good at search (code), there is only the ordering missing. Which is the same issue (math) as ordering social data. Just take a look at OSS code from similar programs, how much overlap there is. Or what could happen if you had all the code from any VB program ever written.
    What people forget is, turn-by-turn direction not long ago were a really hard CS and system scalability problem, now we give them away for free.

    Both Steve’s might be in for a bad surprise.

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  2. “100,000 iPhone Apps: Let’s Clap to That…”

    More like a cynical, slow, “golf clap”.

    Apple has some serious issues with the app store and their position as the only super phone readily available is running out.

    I say they have until the end of the year to make sweeping policy changes to the quality of those 100,000 “apps”, approve Google Voice, and bring a general end to nonsense like this:

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/11/03/apple-rejects-macworld-iphone-superguide-from-app-store-for-u/

    ( I profusely apologetic letter to iPhone developers wouldn’t hurt either. )

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  3. Personal requires an approach to application design that is thoughtful, and the iPhone tapped that market. My personal perspective is that the web is the protocols that connect data rather than a browser specifically. Is a widget the web? Yes. Is an app that functions like a widget, but with cache and such, the web? Yes…

    The second aspect required for the next generation of personal applications is data. Google has the data. Aside from proper application tools, we need tools that bind services together. While the iPhone represents the state of the art in terms or interaction and development, it still requires the web to be useful. Without Google maps, or the browser, it is alas a cool phone.

    What I find interesting is the motivation to build upon Android. ATMs, cash registers, and access points are going to be moving towards this free OS. Historically, Apple has avoided vertical markets, and I do not see this changing even though there are great possibilities. Apple is guarding the iTunes tower, while Google is building subways below.

    In terms of discoverability, doesn’t the very mature of the iTunes app model pose a problem to the issue? Analytics that are a two-way street could solve this problem through referals. Will customers compromise their data for personalized service? We already know the answer to that…

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  4. Apple is already working on discoverability – the latest iTunes offer Genius recommendations for apps, and I’m sure that’ll only get better with time (btw, Genius recommendations is also available on the iPhone’s App Store).

    But I think the aspect you are missing here is that the App Store succeeds the same reason why Google succeeds. 10 years ago, no one would have believed you could make a profitable business out of selling billions of slightly relevant text ads embedded in search results, emails, and mobile ads. Yet Google is a money press because the you only need 0.01% of the tens of billions of users it has to respond to make it profitable for both Google and the advertiser.

    The App Store is the same way. Yes, finding the gems will get harder as the number of apps increase, but I don’t need to look at every Google Ad to make Google’s system profitable. I only need to keep on buying apps on a regular basis.

    Apple already has 50+ million iPhone and iPod touch users. Pretty soon, it’ll have 100 million. Then 200 million. It won’t matter that there might be 500,000 apps at that point as long as those 200 million users continue to buy more and more apps.

    Today, a developer might have to attract the attention of 10% of those 50 million iPhone and touch users to hit it big time. Next year, a developer will have to attract maybe 5% of the user base. A few years from now, a developer will have to vie for the attention of just 1% of the user base to have a successful app and eventually, all a developer will have to do is reach just 0.1% of the installed base to be profitable.

    It doesn’t matter WHERE those customers are coming from because the app discovery will work for the developers as well as Google ad targeting does today for advertisers.

    No other platform will be able to achieve this “Google effect” in terms of app prosperity. It’s simple mathematics, and why Apple has already won.

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  5. [...] right now, it doesn’t yet have the  iPhone’s overflowing ecosystem of applications. As Om reported today, Apple says that there are now 100,000 applications for the iPhone in its App Store. Brodman [...]

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  6. Om. you can imagine how i agree with your final word. This is why i do what i do :)

    Ouriel Ohayon
    AppsFire.com

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  7. 2 Points:

    1. The notion that Apple didn’t plan on having Apps all along is completely ridiculous. There was only so much Apple could include in iPhone 1.0 and they spent time and resources polishing the heck out of what was shipped and left out some pretty things (3rd party apps, cut and paste, etc.). Just because it wasn’t in 1.0 and Apple offered Web Apps as the way to get 3rd party content on the phone does not mean that Apple wasn’t planning on the SDK all along. There is NO way that Apple could have completed the SDK and App store if they hadn’t been planning on it all along.

    “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”

    2. It is not reasonable to expect the only way to find out about Apps to be the App store or iTunes store. There are plenty of blog posts, articles, recommendation from friends, etc. that aid in discovery. Almost every App that I have installed (way over 100) has come from a recommendation buy a friend, blog post / article.

    Finding out about iPhone Apps is now similar to finding out about movies, books, computer software, etc.

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  8. 2nd sentence should read

    …..and left out some pretty big things….

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  9. What is the biggest problem with today’s software.
    Bloat.
    Why is there bloat?
    Software development is costly, so companies try to cram the most features into any given App to attract even the last possible user of that Software. More features lead to higher development cost and on it goes. In the process they annoy all users.

    Apple has shown that simplification sells, iTunes apps store even highlights this more. One can actually have 2000 apps in the same category which are ever so slightly different. And make money from it.
    In the good old days one company would have looked at these 2000 apps in one category boiled it down to the most popular 100 features and incorporated those into it’s own product. Result see above.

    What has changed. The distribution cost, and the small inside that one can make money from distribution. Which totally eluded the company which likes to incorporate, which makes money from keeping the cost to entry high by complexity, i.e. bloat.

    What will change next. Developing cost. With less abstract complexity one can start automating. Users liked Spreadsheets since they could perform predefined actions on numbers without going to the guys with the white coats and pocket protectors. Like a spreadsheet has less inherited complexity than a time shared mainframe so will the user generated phone apps.

    So yes more personalized apps.

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