Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Apps, apps everywhere

Last night one of the London free evening papers devoted almost a whole page to talking about mobile apps, profiling a few people who had developed successful iPhone apps.
With over 65k apps to choose from and over a billion downloads it's a buzzing business to be involved with.
Today, The Guardian published a really interesting article on mobile apps, now and looking forward, that I would recommend reading.

Yes, there are over 40m iPhones in the world (as at the end of April so with the iPhone 3GS release since then you can easily add a healthy amount more), but I think it's really important that we don't all get carried away by the iPhone. I don't dispute for a moment that they are great bits of kit, but let's not forget that the penetration of other devices that also support apps & have apps stores of their own (like the BlackBerry or the Nokia N series) is far far greater. If you are thinking of developing an app, work out which platforms you should not just could be developing it for.

You might get more buzz from developing an iPhone app (which may be no bad thing depending on your objectives) but you might get more consumer exposure and engagement from opting for one of the others. Or do both. Just remember that you can't control the timelines on Apple approving your app once you've submitted it so don't make it too time sensitive.

I really hope that iTunes approve the Spotify app. Yes it's a potential threat to paying for and downloading music but at the same time with estimated margins on paid-for apps at 30% they stand to make revenue from a different stream, which they can either take a part of or not, as undoubtedly there'll be some clever person out there that figures out a work-around.

Apps present exciting opportunities for those that have great ideas and understand that they have to deliver something valuable to the consumer to be really considered successful. I'd much rather create an app that perhaps fewer people downloaded but then used repeatedly or regularly than one that had enormous download figures for a week, was used once and then deleted for not delivering or being engaging.

My favourite app, which works on a wide range of regular (rather than just smart) phones too is the London Underground tubemap. A one off download for something I use time after time and is always on hand whereever I am going because my phone is never far away. Great.

I am still a little bemused by AudioBoo though, an iPhone app / site that enables you to capture and share sound clips, that seems to have been getting a growing groundswell of interest and following since it first popped up on my radar a few months ago.

Audioblogging apparently. Isn't that what pod-casts are for?? Maybe I am missing the point, in what seems to me to be a world increasingly turning to multi-media and visual based content. There'a a eclectic selection of sound clips varying from William Shatner on Sarah Palin's retirement from US politics yesterday, to the sounds of steam trains. All I can say is go and explore for yourself.

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