Let's look at the battlefield so far. When Palm came out, it was one of the best platform for developers and users. It was, for a while, the only platform. Along came Windows Mobile and now we have two. Make no mistakes, there are many websites that exist and have served these platforms for years.
Along came Apple with the App Store for the iPhone this year that, with no arguments, is widely successful. In fact, we have indicated this will be even more successful than any analyst has indicated. Google's Android Market will come online in the next few days (15 days by my count). It relies in a different apparatus than the iPhone app store but it's an app store by any other name.
A while back, Nokia and Microsoft has indicated their own versions of app stores for their respective platform but it's RIM's Blackberry Application Center that beat both and will soon join Apple and Google.
For now, counting RIM, we will have three choices that will help us decide which platform to buy into. But whether it is Apple, Blackberry, or Android, there's nothing new since Palm and Windows Mobile have been at this for years. What's different is the technology, ability to install apps directly, and more choices.
We'll know the specifics in the coming weeks when we learn more about Android and Blackberry's stores. Now, we know Apple's app store well. It works and users like it. However, as mobile warriors yourselves who may not keep up with the political landscape of mobile market, Apple has a very tight control over the app store. In fact, a few apps have been rejected and no one really knows why. There are a lot of smart folks out there who have made a stab at Apple's reasoning but no one knows for sure.
Then we'll know more about Android Marketplace in two or so weeks. We think, we think we know a few things based on the event where T-Mobile's G1 was introduced. But we like to wait until it's actually open to make judgements about it. The same goes for Blackberry Application Store.
There may not be no clear choice, my fellow mobile warriors but still there will be differences. At the end of the day, we may have anywhere from six to eight app stores when all parties are involved. We've identified a few factors to consider when choosing the right app, and ultimately the right platform to buy into.
- Access - getting the app you want. No restrictions. But at the same time, being able to install and use it on the mobile device is just as important. Google has said there will be no restrictions on what can be developed. However, T-Mobile has a wink-wink agreement with Google to make sure VOIP apps cannot be installed in the G1.
- Restriction. What you can or cannot do with the app. What's also important is when you can use it. For example, you might be able to use the app with Wi-Fi but not through the carrier's wireless service.
- Wall-garden. This is a term often attributed to Apple's app store.
- Ease of use.
- Support. So far Apple has not allowed developers a way to help their users easily. You either have to remember the developer homepage go to iTunes. Google has indicated Android Marketplace will be more open.