Apple announced on Jan. 5 that users have downloaded over 3 billion applications from its App Store. It’s no small feat. The App Store, which launched in July 2008 with just 500 applications, has grown at an astounding rate and now has over 100,000 applications.
It hit the 1-billion-downloads mark in April 2009 and the 2 billion plateau that November. It’s becoming clearer than ever that Apple’s App Store is the central feature that adds so much value to the company’s mobile endeavors.
But the value of Apple’s App Store goes far beyond the iPhone. The App Store will also contribute heavily to Apple’s success in 2010. It will likely keep the company dominant in the mobile space as it prepares to compete against a new Windows Mobile version, Google’s Nexus One and any new BlackBerry devices that Research In Motion might be releasing later in the year.
Without the App Store to supplement Apple’s offerings, it’s likely that the iPhone wouldn’t be the dominant device it is today. It’s also extremely likely that Apple wouldn’t hold such a commanding position in the mobile space. Let’s take a look at why the App Store will keep Apple dominant in 2010.
1. Quantity matters
Apple’s App Store easily bests the competition when it comes to available applications. As noted, Apple currently offers over 100,000 apps. The competition can’t even come close to matching that. Google’s Android Marketplace has a little over 20,000 applications. It’s trailed by RIM’s BlackBerry App World, which has a fraction of the apps Apple offers. Applications have quickly become a requirement in today’s marketplace. But only Apple is providing customers with an app for just about anything they desire.
2. The quality is there
Quantity isn’t everything. In order for the App Store to be a success, there must be value. In Apple’s store, there is. The store is filled with applications for just about anyone. There are high-quality games from major developers; social apps for communicating with friends on the go; and several productivity programs that improve personal management. Thanks to the quality of so many of the available apps in Apple’s store, it’s likely that, when given the chance to decide, most folks would pick Apple’s devices over all others.
3. Developer support
Apple has the support of a vast community of app developers. Having that support is extremely important. With it, Apple can provide a unique offering that users won’t find elsewhere. And considering that more users have iPhones than any other single competing device, developers see the value in continuing to build apps for Apple’s store. As 2010 brings more iPhone owners to the App Store, we should fully expect more fine applications.
4. A bridge to the enterprise
Unlike the other application stores in the market, Apple’s store has thousands of applications designed specifically for the corporate world. That will significantly contribute to Apple’s dominance in the mobile space in 2010. The enterprise has yet to get behind multitouch phones. Soon, companies will need to decide if they want to go with iPhones or an alternative. The more enterprise apps companies find, the more likely they will be to opt for the iPhone. Look for more enterprise iPhone owners in 2010.
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5. iTunes integration
Apple’s decision to integrate the App Store into iTunes cannot be underestimated. If nothing else, it brings consumers to a marketplace where, besides apps, they can pick up music, movies, television shows and more. Apple’s applications have lured many more customers to iTunes, helping Apple become a leader in entertainment consumption.
6. It’s going elsewhere
Apple’s App Store isn’t solely a marketplace for users wishing to extend the value of their iPhones. The store can also be used by iPod Touch owners who want to use apps while they listen to their favorite music. And considering Apple’s iSlate might be right around the corner, it’s possible that Apple’s App Store will be integrated into the company’s rumored device. The App Store will be used in more places in 2010, and that can only mean trouble for the competition.
7. Apple, the distributor
Apple might be viewed as a hardware company first, but the App Store has allowed it to become a distributor of high-quality applications. Make no mistake, having that luxury is an extremely profitable business. Rather than spend cash on developing new products, Apple simply provides the store, while independent developers do all the hard work. If a paid application sells in the App Store, Apple benefits at almost no cost to itself. That distribution business will be even more successful going forward.
8. Consumers are engaged
Apple has found a way to keep its customers engaged and acquiring more and more applications. The company’s SDK (software development kit) does a fine job of helping developers get the most out of their applications. The App Store is intuitive, making it easy to add several applications to a device. Best of all, many apps are free or low-cost. All that combines to make the store appealing to customers.
9. It’s not going anywhere
Like iTunes when it was only used for music sales, the App Store has quickly become a place where Apple can generate revenue for years to come. That’s great for Apple, but it’s a problem for the competition. Considering that Apple’s App Store is the gold standard in the market, how can the competition find ways to innovate beyond what Apple has done? Worse, how can those other stores expect to compete?
10. It’s carrier-agnostic
The beauty of the App Store is that regardless of whether a user has an unlocked iPhone, a deactivated iPhone or an iPod Touch, he or she can still download applications, use them at will and keep adding more apps to the device as time goes on. The App Store is independent of all limitations, which makes it available to all users whenever they want. That not only contributes to its success, but also guarantees that as time goes on, Apple will increase its chances of gaining customers rather than losing them to other stores.