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Apps – solutely: Downloads to Triple for Smartphones by 2014


Crystal BallBreak out the Friday Crystal Ball as we take a look into the future of the mobile world. We are traveling across time and space and we see smartphones, boatloads of smartphones (Carol Bartz rocks!), and the number of apps that are downloaded look like they have grown by three times the amount of today’s numbers. Ok, so come on back to the present and find that because the number of apps downloaded in the future are triple of that today then the folks at Frost & Sullivan as reported by the Internet News were right with their predictions. Nice work!

Ok, sarcasm aside there is no telling just how big the mobile web and the various applications / time wasters it spawns will get in five years. While the dawning of the mobile age has been predicted for a while now it looks like the future is upon us. With this shift from the computer to the smartphone happening at a rapid rate there will of course be growing pains around the phenomenon.

One such pain could be the running of the actual online store handling the apps. While Apple has its App Store which claims more than one billion downloads with 65,000 programs available the other potential players like RIM, Verizon and others may not be able to handle the load. Frost’s Vikrant Gandhi points out

Outsourcing or white-labeling of the app store business might become a good idea in the long run since a device vendor or an operating system provider may not want to commit large resources to manage the smartphone app store business.

An interesting take considering that most people just want to talk about the numbers of apps and downloads but the operations side of the equation could be a real barrier to participating in this predicted surge of the smartphone apps market.

Regardless, it will be important for others to figure out how to get in the game and at least have some slice of Apple’s App pie. A Goldman Sachs survey goes on to say that

smartphone apps may not net handset makers and carriers a huge amount of money, but they are becoming an integral piece of the brand loyalty puzzle.

“While not a significant revenue driver, Apple’s much-admired App Store is likely increasing brand loyalty as downloading applications becomes ingrained in users’ behavioral patterns. The race is on for companies such as RIM, Palm, Nokia, and Verizon to build competing application marketplaces in order to increase the ‘stickiness’ of their devices,” says the Goldman Sachs report.

I have noted in the past that I have iPhone envy and I still suffer from it. Being at SES this week, however, I was rather surprised at the number of Blackberry’s I saw since I had made the assumption that the iPhone was the smartphone of choice amongst the Internet marketing set. Not so fast. I wonder if Blackberry or anyone else can build their stores and offerings fast enough to stop the migration to the iPhone? I have the end of my Verizon contract circled on the calendar and I will likely move to the iPhone regardless of carrier or my feelings toward Blackberry. Unless there was a truly compelling reason to stick around, like better functionality and more options for apps, it’s going to be difficult to justify staying put. Hey, I don’t want to be the only person left who has to shop at RIM’s App World while all the cool kids are at the Apple App Store.

So with the mobile revolution fully underway and lots of growth on the horizon what’s your take? Will Apple become the Google of the mobile app world and just dominate or is there enough in the tank for these other players to reap some benefits?