Silicon Alley Insider reported today that Apple users have downloaded their 2 billionth app from iTunes. The growth in adoption of new apps is truly astounding as the same article notes that 10.5 million apps are being downloaded per day. No wonder Apple doesn’t have that long rumored tablet computer ready yet!
All kidding aside, it’s an incredible statistic and a testament to both the popularity of the iPhone and iPod touch and Apple’s very effective TV commercials for the Apps store.
Like anything, the app store runs the risk of being the victim of it’s own success. With over 85,000 apps already in the store, it’s got to be tough for developers to come up with something truly innovative. And even tougher for them to stand out from the crowd. We may soon see an evolution in app development as applications become the province of branded marketers with the budget to promote their commercial software in other media. The Puma Index and MasterCard Priceless Picks apps are two good examples of this new trend.
We’ve written about the stunning growth of the iPhone platform before but these latest numbers raise even more questions.
The first has to be how anyone else can catch up. The Pre is struggling just to sell phones at this point let alone apps. Googles Android OS and the accompanying app store seem to have fared better but they are still a distant speck in Apple’s rearview mirror. The coming update to Windows Mobile doesn’t look like it will change the landscape much either. If Apple does end their AT & T exclusivity in 2010 (as many are predicting) will the last barriers to entry for the iPhone fall? Will it become as dominant a player in the Smartphone category as archrival Microsoft has been in business software?
That raises the second big question. If Apple does indeed continue to experience this growth in their mobile business, what does that mean for its other divisions?
We haven’t really seen an innovative hardware design from Apple since the controversial Airbook. While Snow Leopard was a solid update for the Mac OS it didn’t knock anyone’s socks off. Have we just come to expect groundbreaking products from Apple on too regular a basis? Or is a lot of the innovative thinking in the company now directed at the iPod and iPhone divisions. Apple is notoriously secretive so we really can’t do anything but speculate at this point. But the extraordinary success of the App store has to be having an impact on the company’s culture.
In the meantime, the iPhone OS is rapidly becoming the dominant mobile platform (at least for smartphones). And (as we’ve said before) that means we need to start thinking about optimizing content for the device. Could this lead to new ways of thinking about site design? Is the new wave of Augmented Reality apps a sign of how users will interact with the device and their environment in the future? And what’s the timing of the next big Apple announcement?
Answering the first two questions is hard. But answering the third one isn’t. It will probably be at the next MacWorld conference early next year and all I have to do is look at my phone to find out the dates of the show.
Because there’s an app for that.