One of the things that makes a Mac a Mac is applications and utilities. There may be more of each on Windows, but there’s plenty of both available for the Mac. What about cellphones? Apple claims over 60,000 apps already on the iPhone’s App Store, far exceeding any other mobile platform. How about this? “Apps will be as big if not bigger than the internet.” Ludicrous, no? Yes.
From what I can tell, business leaders, researchers, and stock analysts are not very good at predicting the future; next year or next decade.
Remember Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer said the iPhone will never gain appreciable market share. That was about two years ago. Ed Colligan, former CEO of Palm, said PC guys won’t just walk in and create a cell phone that everyone wants.
Not only has Apple’s iPhone, in two short years, eclipsed expectations, it’s also the most profitable cellphone platform with the most number of applications, utilities, and games.
Predicting the future is tough.
As Big As The Internet
If predictioning is such a difficult profession, why do so many climb out on a limb and begin sawing away on the wrong side? Predicting is easy and it’s free. With a low barrier to entry, anyone can do it.
Enter Ilja Laurs, chief executive of GetJar, a leading independent application store you’ve never heard of. Laurs says, “apps will be as big if not bigger than the internet.”
How big? Peaking at 10-million apps in 2020. That’s a 10, with a million behind it. Reminder: Apple’s App Store has about 65,000 apps.
They will peak at around 100,000 by the end of the year. That will be a tipping point and after that there will be a gradual fall in the rate of development. The full blossom will come in ten years and mobile apps will become as popular as websites are today with consumers.
Alright, that’s reasonable. There will be a peak, which is not far from where Apple’s App Store is now, then a gradual fall in the rate, but in 10 years (thankfully, when no one will remember the prediction) mobile apps will be like web water. Everywhere.
Uh, no. 10-million apps on a few dozen different smart phones? I don’t think so, Ilja.
Do the Math
The math just doesn’t make sense. I’d like to say that consolidation among cellphone makers and platforms and app stores would mean fewer choices, not more, but the consolidation hasn’t started yet.
RIM’s BlackBerry has an app store, as does Palm’s Pre. Ditto for Microsoft Windows Mobile, Google’s Android, and a bunch of other cellphone makers and phone companies. Can they all support 10-million apps in 2020?
The reality is that this space is only so big and only able to support so many people. Unfortunately the overhype that goes with [Apple’s] App Store is what has driven so many to rush to develop for the market. It is fashionable to do apps and every media outlet tells you apps are cool.
OK, but what about the math? What’s the story?
But the economics are a different story. The ratio of those developers who will fail is about 90%; they will simply not make a return on their investment or make a good enough living at this.
So, if I understand correctly, 90-percent of those who develop apps will fail, but in 2020 there will be 10-million apps available on the growing number of iPhone App Store lookalikes, right?
How many flashlight utilities, fart apps, and bikini photo apps can the world handle?
What it’s All About
Lee Williams is executive director of the Symbian Foundation who expressed some doubt about whether the industry needs more apps stores or apps. His take on the future?
The type of application you will see will help enrich your life in some way. It will let you do your image sharing, your social networking and establish presence with your friends, colleagues and family in completely new ways – which is really what mobile applications are all about.
Which is true and sounds utopian, but has trouble with reality. If you don’t mind my predictioning, if single cellphone platform will dominate the cellphones of the future, then no single app store will dominate, either.
All those sharing and social networking applications and utilities will serve a highly fragmented cellphone market (fragmented by language, geography, carrier, cellphone), so, more apps, yes, but 9,900,000 more than we have now?