As we reported last week, one area where consumers are spending some money in this tight economy is on mobile applications. According to the findings from ABI Research, more than 17 percent of U.S. respondents claim to have spent in excess of $100 last year on mobile applications.
This survey of 235 smartphone users who installed apps on their devices last year was conducted in November, and it found that 16.5 percent of users event spent between $100 and $499 on apps! This includes apps for the iPhone, which range in price from around a dollar to as much as $25.
However, is all this good news? “Apple is seen by some as hurting the market with its iPhone App Store,” says senior analyst Jeff Orr, “It drives the price of content down to $1-2, using a model similar to its successful iTunes music store. If you exclude Apple from the mix, applications for other platforms cost about $7-25 each.”
In fact, many developers are now saying that because of tight resources they’re having to focus on one smartphone and this is forcing many developers to look straight to Apple. That is a win for iPhone users, but could be a loss for owners of other handsets. The issue for developers is that they often are forced to sell at a lower price on the iPhone as well.
“On the other hand,” adds Orr, “Apple did a lot for the market with its massive marketing effort telling the public how great mobile content is. That created a ‘halo’ effect for the rest of the industry: other device manufacturers and content developers working on non-Apple platforms all saw a bump in sales and downloads because there’s more awareness of the smartphone category. In 2009 a number of new mobile application storefronts will be launched from Nokia, Palm, RIM and Samsung.”
Mozilla’s FireFox Not a Monster Hit on Mobile… yet?
So where is the mobile version of Mozilla’s FireFox? The browser, which managed to offer serious competition to the market dominated by Microsoft Internet Explorer, is still only in the pre-alpha stage for mobile handsets.
So where does that leave Blackberry users or most notably iPhone users? Well, with another browser. The Blackberry OS is essentially based on a Java environment, and as for the iPhone, no one even expected to see FireFox make it to the Apple handset. But the final question is what about Google Android, which would seem like a natural fit given the long history of open source between Mozilla and Google. Well, the Android won’t be leading the way for Mozilla either because it is also a Java-based platform.