There’s an app for that. How many times have we heard it, how many times have I typed it for that matter? Apple has repeatedly spread the word that the iPhone has a lot of apps, and other mobile handset makers have followed suit. Just five years ago apps were far and few between – now there are hundreds of thousands of the small software programs for mobile handsets. An entire segment of software development is now devoted to mobile apps.
But the really surprising thing is that to put it bluntly, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Last year the mobile app market was a mere $10 billion (with a B) market, but Juniper Research now predicts that the market could grow three fold to $30 billion by 2015. In just five years apps could be larger than the gross domestic product of many nations! OK, so it might be a while before it reaches any first world powers, but consider that for the United States and other heavily industrialized nations this will actually contribute to the GDP!
Also, this isn’t in app sales either. Juniper’s numbers take into account revenue from advertising in free apps, which is what the research firm touts to be a “freemium” app – where as you get a premium service provided at no cost, but you need to deal with the ads. In addition the $10 billion takes into account paid apps as well as mobile subscriptions for apps. No matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of revenue – and this is notable given that a decade ago there was virtually no market.
More importantly, as I’ve long said since launching this blog column more than two years ago, the third screen is making this possible. Apps are being used by consumers in parts of the world where they never would pay for software simply because they’d never own a computer.
The other factor to consider is that apps will certainly benefit Apple – after all you can’t spell Apple without app – simply because while the computer maker never really captured a significant portion of the desktop/PC market, it does have a huge stake in mobile handsets. Apple’s App Store remains the largest single source of apps, so while just over a decade ago it also looked like Apple was just a step away from the end, now the company has surpassed Microsoft in terms of stock market cap. Not bad for those small little applications you use on your phone!
After Hours App of the Week:
Abundante! – Finnish developer 10tons doesn’t think you’re finished with puzzle games yet. They’ve released the Abundante! app for the iPhone and iPod Touch, where the goal is to arrange jewel studded bricks into formations with at least four similar jewels. While this sounds easy, it has an addictive quality that keeps players coming back for more. The game, which was first released for the PC in 2006, is finally available for you to get addicted all over again on your handset. It is available now from the Apple App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch for $2.99.
Check back every week for the latest from the world of mobile apps.