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App Store World Domination in 2010: 300,000 Apps Strong

IDC is making some bold predictions for 2010, one of the boldest being a tripling of the number of applications at Apple’s App Store. In reality, that might actually be a conservative guess.

According to IDC, the App Store will have 300,000 applications by the end of next year. Looking at the history, that looks pretty good in a chart, except IDC is predicting even faster growth for Google’s Android Market.

In its first year, the Android Market amassed about 10,000 applications, tepid growth compared to the App Store’s first year. The reason was pretty simple, not a lot of Android devices to choose from, not a lot of mobile providers carrying them. Going forward, the Android Market currently has about 15,000 applications, but the number of devices, from mobile phones to tablets to netbooks will be greatly increase in 2010. There may be as many as 50 devices, including mobile phones on networks all over the world.

In contrast, Apple will still have only the iPhone and iPod touch, and maybe a tablet. Considering the propagation and availability of Android devices, it’s not unreasonable to see the Android Market at 75,000 applications by the end of 2010. That wold be a fivefold increase, two more folds than the App Store is projected to have, but there’s a problem with that projection. The number of devices available does not necessarily equate to more devices being sold.

In June at WWDC, Apple announced that more than 40 million iPhone OS devices had been sold. Since then, the company has probably sold another 10 million iPhones. The iPod touch appears to be selling around half as many iPhones now, so that’s another five million iPhone OS devices. By the end of this year, there will easily have been more than 60 million iPhone OS devices sold.

It’s widely expected that a Mac tablet capable of running applications from the App Store will be released early next year, as well as rumors of a Verizon (s vz) iPhone in 2010. However, even without either of those devices, Apple will easily have sold 100 million iPhone OS devices before introducing new models of the iPhone and iPod touch around the middle of the year. What’s the best case estimate for Android device sales by that time? Five million, maybe ten?

In the New York Times, IDC analyst Frank Gens made an interesting comment. “The market follows the applications,” Mr. Gens said. “That’s a message for the software industry, particularly for the PC industry.” I wonder if IDC has considered the reverse of that, that the applications follow the market, in this case the iPhone OS device market.

300,000 apps in the App Store by 2010? Try half a million, minimum.

27 Responses to “App Store World Domination in 2010: 300,000 Apps Strong”

  1. Stark Ravin

    It drives me crazy when the underlying assumption for Android’s success is the WinTel model that succeeded in the enterprise. I got news for you people: the mobile phone market is a consumer market, not an enterprise market. Cobbling together an OS and hardware for a consumer device and expecting it to do as well as an integrated offering (read: iPhone) is a screwed up notion. But here is something even more screwed up: the notion that cobbling together a fragmented open source OS, with a hardware company, with a wireless carrier can produce a handset and user experience as successful in the consumer market as one company essentially offering it all together and elegantly integrated (read: Apple).

    And before I leave you, one more rant: brand and marketing mean more in a consumer market than stupidities like “open OS” and “open development environment” and “choice” and a number of other crap techie notions that mean squat to normal people. Apple’s brand and marketing machine will drive the iPhone to squash Android in a relatively short number of years. If Android doesn’t destroy itself before that, due to all the fragmentation the idiot wireless carriers will impose on it with custom UI’s, wonky hardware designs and crippled capabilities. Android is like that dumbass frog that trusts the carrier scorpion not to kill it when it offers it a ride on its back. Carriers can’t help but kill a mobile platform; it’s their nature.

  2. @Rob
    “It would be nice if Apple would remove apps that haven’t been updated in more than 9 months. The store has accumulated a rather large degree of cruft.

    … it has literally been months since I’ve even opened up the store to browse.”

    There are some great new apps. But rather than randomly browsing I usually read website reviews and check out the App Store’s top 100. The App Store’s home page highlights interesting apps, as well.

  3. @JKT. I am not advocating that apps be removed from a device. That would be wrong and evil. I am advocating that the listing for old and incompatible applications be removed from the store.

    I have two iPhone OS devices. One is an iPod touch that is still running v2.x of the operating system, the other is an iPhone running 3.x. There are a number of applications on the iPod touch that won’t run on the iPhone. Further, it doesn’t look like their developers are in a hurry to update them. These apps should be removed from the app store so that users of 3.x don’t accidentally pay for and download an incompatible app.

    For users that already paid for the app, they already have a local copy on their computer anyway; it’s therefore a mute issue. This is no different than when other apps have been pulled from the store. For example, I own a copy of GVMobile which was pulled from the app store a few months ago. I can still install this program to my devices, but it neither runs nor works correctly. I assume this is due to updates in the iPhone OS and now GVMobile is incompatible.

    Let’s hypothetically assume that Apple hadn’t pulled it from the store for a moment. If the program had become abandonware that no longer worked, then I would expect Apple to remove the listing from the app store and strike it from their count of total applications. I’d still have a local copy, but new users wouldn’t waste their money on a dead app. There are THOUSANDS of such apps in the store. Clearly, Apple needs to do something about them.

    It’s just another example about how their entire model is broken.

  4. @Rob: Remove apps not updated in 9 months? I use several apps on my iPhone that have not been updated in 9 months. And given that I paid for them I’d be rather angry if they went away. And yes, they “go away” if Apple removes them because I want the option to replace them if they are deleted from my iPhone or I get a new iPhone, etc.

  5. I think you should temper your enthusiasm. The app store is probably coming close to saturation on a number of fronts. First off, the number of apps has nothing to do with the number of devices. It is completely dependent on the number of developers working on the platform and whether they can be profitable. I think it’s pretty likely that most every interested developer has already downloaded the SDK (even I did, and I’m not even a developer). Back when the app store first opened, it was unique, and innovative and cool. Now … everyone knows that the iPhone is a pain to develop for and the review process is broken. Such a reputation doesn’t easily attract new talent. Moreover, much of the existing talent is dissatisfied, because people aren’t actually earning much money.

    At some point, the number of apps on the store might even work against the platform. While I initially spent quite a bit of money on new apps, it has literally been months since I’ve even opened up the store to browse. I already have the applications I need. There are about 25 of them. I don’t need 100,000 apps, and most people don’t need that many apps either. If you look at most desktop computers, there are a relative handful of programs that everyone uses. Once a program becomes became entrenched, it usually has a deleterious effect on the competition. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and ask Sun how the OpenOffice experiment went. Expect for something similar to happen on iPhone.

    And that’s if you even accept the 100,000 app number in the first place. How many of those apps are stand-alone e-books, lite versions of paid apps or updates? From what I’ve read here, at TUAW and ZdNet, it sounds as though Apple is VERY creative in how they count “unique” apps. I would be willing to bet the real number is FAR below what they publicly claim.

    I think it very unlikely that we won’t be seeing 300,000 or even 200,000 apps any time soon. In fact, we might even see the number go down. It would be nice if Apple would remove apps that haven’t been updated in more than 9 months. The store has accumulated a rather large degree of cruft.

    The iPhone is a nice platform, but it doesn’t hold limitless growth potential, and to have 300,000 apps would almost require that.

  6. 300K “may” be possible if they get on Verizon. I don’t think the tablet will have a huge impact since most people will be trying to figure out what the tablet will be good for; books? music? movies? what?

  7. Christopher

    There is a app, no at least three apps, for everything. So end 2010 we will have nine apps for everything?

    To put it short: I do not believe that a) the way the app store presents its offers and b) the thinkable possibilities of apps for the iPhone 3 gs make a number of 300.000 apps seem likely.