No-one could have missed that the latest dominant meme in the mobile world is that of App Stores, of which Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) supplied such a great proof-of-concept. Pretty much everyone is looking to launch one: Palm, RIM, Nokia, Google, Samsung and Microsoft have all announced plans, not to mention the app stores planned by individual carriers. This has led to conderns that the market will become saturated and fragmented: “Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T (NYSE: T), used his keynote speech at GSM World Congress in Barcelona last week to warn the industry about the dangers of creating a fragmented ecosystem…”We need to get apps working across platforms, devices and operating systems,” he said. “We should use a standard API to allow developers to create mass-market apps that are cross-platform” reports New Media Age. Udo Szabo from Nokia’s Ovi said that it was likely that many mobiles would feature two competing app stores, and Vic Gundoria from Google (NSDQ: GOOG) argued there already is a platform that spans devices — the web. So is fragmentation an issue? I don’t think so. If ever there was a market that was used to fragmentation it’s the mobile industry — having just a few app stores will be a welcome relief from the thousands of handset and carrier combinations developers had to worry about previously. As for customers, believe it or not they are also used to buying goods and services from different places.
If anything, the main source of confusion seems to come from single app stores, what is allowed and what isn’t. Macworld has a piece trying to work out what will be accepted into Apple’s App Store and what will be rejected. The complaints seem to center on the idea that there is no way to tell if something will get accepted until it is actually submitted, but things that compete with iPhone functions, something that could ridicule public figures, things that could be classified (R) and sexual content have a hard time getting through. The objection is summed up succinctly by Comic creator PJ Holden: