A key point of the current Apple iPhone ad campaign is “there is an app for it.” But let’s take a moment to consider that just because there is one, does that mean there’s a need to download it? And better yet, is there a need to pay for it?
This reminds me of the old conventional wisdom that a two for one sale doesn’t offer much if you don’t need the first one in the first place. Two useless items weren’t better than one useless item.
And this same sort of wisdom should carry over to mobile phones, be it the iPhone or any other handsets. What is a worrisome possibility is that the rush to have so many app stores with Google, Microsoft and recently announced Cox Communications (among others), is that many not-so-good apps will be produced. Worse still is what all this means. Should you swap out handsets?
Will the apps carry over? This might not be a problem for some given that iPhone users will likely stick with their iPhones much as iPod owners have stuck with the iPod. But what about those who aren’t using the iPhone? Again, this is where too many operating systems – something I’ve rallied against for a while – could cause some headaches.
Just as worrisome is whether this rush to create apps could create another tech bubble. The massive development of the Web in the late 1990s went from cottage to full blown industry. Companies that produced very little, with practically no revenue stream, suddenly became worth millions (even billions) of dollars on paper. And then… we had a backlash.
Of course this time around the app makers are actually making something. OK, you can’t hold it exactly other than when you hold your handset. But can an industry survive – and moreover thrive – where many apps are free, and most sell for a dollar or two. That takes a lot of sales to pay the staff, cover the overhead and invest back into the company. And the problem with many apps is that some models allow consumers to try and return. Apple is making the developers return their share too! But that could change as Microsoft has said that it would let consumers return an app, without forcing the developer to return its share. That has the potential for abuse of course too. But let’s not go there now.
Instead, let’s hope that the apps community does survive. Let’s hope they do thrive. But most importantly, let’s hope we see some apps that are actually the types of things that bring innovation, instead of just more of the same.
And with that, here is a look at some new apps that might be worth a download:
PhoneBook – This new iPhones app helps you rearrange your list of contacts based on how often you call them. It can work with Facebook Connect to automatically assign photos to correspond with your friend’s phone numbers, and can even update your list of friends or business contacts based again on how much you dial them. Best of all, this app even allows users a way to monitor phone usage so you won’t get charged for extra minutes. This is a notable feature that I’m sure many carriers have long avoided wanting to install into handsets. PhoneBook is available from the Apple App Store.
DataViz Docs to Go for Android – Need to check out your files on the go, but want to do so on your handset instead of laptop? Well, this app might just do the trick. Docs to Go is compatible with Microsoft Office, and at CTIA last week the company announced that the Android version will allow users with the T-Mobile G1 and other Android-based handsets to be able to download and edit Word and Excel documents. This version is available through the Android Market, and is available now for a special price of $20 (off the normal $30).