Monday, June 22, 2009

iPhone Apps: 50K Today, 100K Soon. 1 Million Apps. What then?

Apple will likely stop counting how many apps there are for the iPhone and iPod Touch once the 100,000th app has been reached.  Because we may eventually see 250,000th.  500,000th.  Or even the millionth app.

A some point, the app business is going to be bigger than it is today, both in terms of the number of applications and the number of apps that will eventually be downloaded.  You think it's impressive Apple got its one billionth download in 9 months?  How about about the 2nd billionth in five to six months or the next billion after that in 3-4 months when China joins the iPhone craze?

By then, we might be 75-100 thousand apps in the iTunes app store while Android Market may well reach over 10K.  But how does Apple manage 100,000 apps in the app store as it currently exists?  And if Apple's competitors are willing to admit this, they are waiting to see what innovative means Apple will conjure up to do just that.

Already, developers have gone through difficulties learning the app business in trying to get the word out about their apps.  Some blog about it.  Some sites that are dedicated solely to apps write about them but more slip through the crack than not.  Eventually, folks learn to produce lite or free versions of their apps to get attentions of users since free apps generally dominate the top apps list.

The EA, Sega, and Ngmoco of the app world will get its share of attention but what of the crack team of 2 or 3 who pour their collective hearts into these apps?  It was easier when there were 500-1000 apps in the store but now, it's nearly impossible to get any kind of attention. 

By this time in the post, I'd offer bullett points of suggestions on what app developers can do or what Apple should do to reorganize the iPhone app store but unlike some matters I've got familiarity with, this is one area I only know has a problem but am unable to provide any analysis on where the app store will go from here.

There have been talks for months that Apple may come up with a premium tier for the app store that allow some developers to charge more for their apps.  That certainly is a way to highlight some apps.  They'll be highlighted as more expensive than others.  So I suspect Apple will no go in that direction since it does nothing to solve the underlying problems.

For users, the difficulties will be find the right app for their needs.  Perhaps, that is the direction that Apple will go.  Allow users to find the apps they need rather than giving app developers tools to make their apps stand out. 

When the fall iPod lineup is refreshed, I think it is a good time for Apple to unveil any kind of changes they may make that makes it easier to find the 100,000 or so apps on the market.

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