The enhanced technology and functionality now shipping in smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices has allowed their popularity to skyrocket with consumers seeking solutions for productivity and entertainment on the go. App developers have noticed this demand and have responded by equipping mobile apps with a variety of functions that were typically associated with desktop environments, such as news, audio, video, gaming, and much more. While it’s no surprise that developers are creating apps to coincide with the needs of consumers, the pace at which apps are entering the market is staggering. Anindya Datta, founder and chairman of Mobilewalla, offered a comparison of apps versus other forms of media. Datta said: “Every week about 100 movies get released worldwide, along with about 250 books. That compares to the release of around 15,000 apps per week.”
Founded in 2008, Mobilewalla was created to supply users in the form of consumers, advertisers, and developers with a website to help them sift and search through massive mobile app markets. The site was also designed to offer a system for categorizing and ranking apps as a method of standardization. At the time of its inception, Mobilewalla only concerned itself with tracking the inventory from Apple’s App Store, which held about 8,000 apps and accounted for virtually the entire app universe. In 2009, Mobilewalla added the Android and Windows Phone platforms to its app tracking system. Finally, in 2010, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry platform was also added.
Mobilewalla counts an app each time it is released for a specific platform or device, since each edition requires unique code. So, Urbanspoon’s release for the Android, BlackBerry, iPad, and iPhone counted as four separate apps. With the tracking in place, apps surpassed the 100,000 mark in December 2009. That number multiplied to 500,000 apps a year later. Six months later, 750,000 apps were on the market. Just five months later, the one million app milestone was reached, a far cry from the 8,000 apps offered by Apple in 2008.
Mobilewalla offered a more detailed breakdown to show how the app market reached its epic milestone. Two weeks prior to the availability of the one millionth app, an average of 745 apps were released for Apple’s App Store on a daily basis, giving owners of the iPad, iPhone, a wider variety of apps to choose from in a quick burst. Google’s Android platform came in second place, with an average of 543 apps hitting its Android Market per day. Mobilewalla calculated the two week total for the Apple, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone platforms to be 20,738 apps. With that many apps populating the market in only two weeks time, it’s easy to see how a service like Mobilewalla could come in handy. Datta claims the service will enhance its functionality even further in January to track statistics for individual app downloads, ranking, and revenue.
The aforementioned growth of mobile devices and consumer demand for apps has helped the app universe grow, but other factors must be considered as well. Approximately 80 percent app producers are said to be small developers who have created less than ten apps. One does not need to be a technical genius to see their app come to fruition, either. “Anyone with a good idea can outsource the code, and they own a new app,” Datta said.
The barriers to entry when it comes to app development have been lowered as well and have been another major factor behind the app boom. Brad Hunstable, co-founder and CEO of Ustream, the widely used app for broadcasting and viewing live video, noted that the app development process was much more complicated five years ago due to carrier and hardware obstacles, plus issues with quality assurance. “Now anyone can build for a platform,” he said. Hunstable added that app development has been helped tremendously by enhanced technology in devices, such as improved processing power and upgraded cameras, as well as overall innovation in terms of network quality.
Thomas Chung, VP and GM of Playforge, the development group behind the top-selling Zombie Farm app, also cited lower barriers to entry as a reason behind the app growth. He added: “It’s an exciting time to be a developer for mobile. The market has become more consumer-facing, too. A lot of people can download applications now, and it’s just a big win all around.”
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