Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why 2010 was “The Year of the App”

Apps gained a major market foothold in 2010, according to a year-end analysis in the Wall Street Journal.

Andrew Dowell reported in the Wall Street Journal: “2010 was the Year of the App. Sometimes cheap, often silly, these little computer programs—there are hundreds of thousands of them—turned smartphones into game rooms, barcode scanners and photo manipulators.”

Apps have been transformed into an ecosystem that enables companies, such as Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Research In Motion (RIMM) and Verizon Wireless (VZ), to build customer loyalty. That’s why these outfits have built online outlets to sell third-party programs.

“Apps, many of which cost just 99 cents each, have also spawned a cottage industry with thousands of developers, established software vendors and start-ups focused on churning out mobile programs. Look no further than Rovio Mobile's goofy ‘Angry Birds’ game, which has sold 12 million copies,” said Dowell.

Apps have become a big-bucks industry despite low-cost prices per app: Gartner estimates that global app sales will have reached $6.7 billion in 2010.

Look for more corporate apps in 2011

Dowell said the next big apps trend will be corporate apps from AT&T (T), SAP and others to help their employees track sales and monitor systems. In turn, the adoption of iPads and other tablets is fueling this trend. Citigroup analysts have estimated that Apple will have sold 14 million iPads in 2010. Gartner estimates that 55 million tablets will sell in 2011.

[I'm guessing closer to 70M based on upcoming positive reviews and studies of the iPad in the higher education market. Only wish I could buy some Apple stock.]

Smartphones have become mainstream in 2010, and next year will become even bigger as prices plunge below $100.

Another big trend in 2010 has been the emergence of Android from Google as a serious competitor to Apple’s iPhone. Google made a splash with help from Verizon and manufacturers Motorola (MOT) and HTC (2498.TW).

[After getting my hands on an EVO and Droid X, it's clear the iPhone has met its equal in the DROID space. Next year will mean better apps, more widespread purchases of the newest devices, and intense competition for Apple as the early King of the smart device market. Now if only a solid tablet running Android appeared (better than the Galaxy Tab) with open access to the Android Market, we'd have a serious mobile arms race on our hands.]

Via Howard Wolinsky @ Appolocious

On a personal note, watch for more mobile device app reviews in 2011, and my hope that I'll get my hands on an iPad 2 or Droid X/EVO to advance my research/knowledge and early ambitions to learn more about app development and user interface creation in the mobile space.

In many ways, we're standing at the beginning of an early trend here in 2010/2011 (mobile always-on Internet access in several flavors) that will rival the widespread adoption of the WWW/Net which began in 1994. It's a near repeat of the excitement level, business investments, and potential that we first dreamed about 16 years ago.

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