Friday, January 02, 2009

Available Apps Driving Consumer Phone Choice

A couple of weeks ago I posted an article about the popularity of music games that are now available for cell phones. Today, I read a new article that pointed out how the availability of thousands of new apps is becoming the determining factor on which phones consumers ultimately purchase:
"...With the advent of touch-screen technology and faster wireless networks, the new competition and cool factor [for cell phones] revolves around thousands of fun, quirky (and even useful) programs that run on the phones.

The popularity of such applications for Apple’s iPhone, the leader of the transformation, is driving a fierce competition among the makers of the BlackBerry and Palm devices, and even Google and Microsoft.

It heralds a new era in the allure of a mobile device — the phone is no longer a fashion statement but a digital bag of tricks...

...Since July, Apple has posted more than 10,000 programs to its App Store; 9 out of every 10 iPhone users have downloaded applications — more than 300 million over all, though those include software updates and repeat downloads. Some applications are free (like Stanza, which lets you download and read books) while others typically cost $1 to $10.

Other applications help users navigate roads, find friends and local restaurants, and play odd games, including one called Sapus Tongue, in which the user swings the phone to see how far he can fling an animated monkey on the screen.

Recognizing the business opportunities, the other major cellphone and software companies are getting into the app act.

Google recently introduced the Android Market, selling applications based on Android, its operating system for cellphones. In the spring, Research in Motion plans to introduce an application store for its BlackBerry devices. Palm is thinking of retooling its software strategy, while Microsoft is in the early stages of creating its own store for phones running Windows Mobile." - More: New York Times

I liked the application called Shazam that "lets users hold the phone up to a radio to identify within seconds what song is playing and by whom — and then give users a way to buy it on Apple’s iTunes Store, of course." Google also offers one that sounds really helpful called ShopSavvy, "in which users scan the bar code of any product using the camera built into the G1 smartphone from T-Mobile. The application, which is free, then searches for the best price online and delivers the information to the phone."

As usual, though, especially with a predominately young audience, the most popular application is a wacky simulation of the sound of flatulence available for 99 cents. Hey, at least they keep us from taking ourselves too seriously!!

I see that cell phone application development is also starting to attract some serious venture capital money. Apparently, Kleiner Perkins operates a $100 million fund for iPhone application developers.
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