“The success of a new smartphone can depend on whether there are enough killer apps for it.” That’s how this CNN article on apps-driven development for smartphones starts out (“App makers put new smartphones to the ‘smell test’”). Just how big are apps in this market? “Apple says its online store has served more than 7 billion downloads to customers from its pool of 300,000 unique apps. Google says its Android marketplace has 90,000 mobile apps.” That’s a lot of apps.
The popularity of apps stems from two factors. First, they add some sort of capability to the smartphone hardware platform. True, many are games. However, a lot of apps perform more important tasks such as delivering the weather report, keeping you current on stock quotes, or improving the function of the smartphone’s built-in camera. Second, apps are inexpensive. Consequently, sales resistance is extremely low. We’ve certainly seen this sort of situation in the recent past. Think ring tones.
Finally, there’s the issue of how apps developers pick platforms. “How do developers decide which platform to make their apps for? ‘We don’t have a rigorous formal process,’ said Scott Raymond, the chief technical officer for Gowalla. ‘We sort of do the smell test. But there’s a handful of factors. Probably the biggest one is just what our users are asking for.’”
So, does your platform smell good?