Who’s Dominating the Mobile App Market?

Written by Ellisia Jesnes

So I've been kind of holed up for the last week or so in mobile app land. Why?  Well, I'll be honest...it's a lot to digest. Truthfully, I actually like reading this stuff.  I’ll sit down to an article someone forwarded, which links to another, and then another, and then before I know it, 3 hours have gone by and I’ve ingested 25 “expert opinions.”  Meanwhile, forming my own and I just get carried away because I want to know all the details.  A relative sponge for tech-junkie information, you might say.  I soak it up, and then squeeze it out to the masses.  Call me a nerd if you like….it’s ok.  Nerd is the new Cool anyway.

What did I learn?  I learned it’s a popularity contest first.  Then it’s a compatibility contest.  Every app developer wants to be the most popular boy/girl in school.  But it’s a tough spot to secure. Between the competition for first release, sales, and notoriety, it's a dog eat dog world out there.  And who knows what people will like?  Could anyone have guessed a year ago that a game that features slingshotting birds at buildings full of pigs would be the #1 free download AND #1 grossing app for BOTH iPhone and Android?  It’s not even a tool.  It’s a game called Angry Birds.  Never heard of it?  Ask your cubi-neighbor.  I guarantee you won’t have to ask more than 3 people with a Smartphone before hearing the words, “oh my God, you just have to get it! It’s the coolest game ever!” 

As for compatibility, just consider the number of platforms a developer has to consider when he gets a brilliant app or game idea. The top three are iPhone OS, Android, and Blackberry.  Windows Mobile is competing, and Symbian which covers most phones that don’t fall in one of the aforementioned categories, is trying to make a come-back with loyal nokia lovers.  And yet, there are even a few other mobile platforms I didn’t even know were out there.  Windows Mobile is still making a strong effort, but at only 700 apps compared to iphone’s 150,000, they are failing miserably. Android is certainly giving iPhone a run for its money.  In 2010, clearly the competition was between iPhone and Google.  Believe it or not, I even read Palm is still trying to compete.  Really?  Who knows, maybe they’ll surprise the world and come out with something someone can actually use.  The problem:  they haven’t been profitable in oh, the last 5-7 years.  Which is why they were sold to HP.  But...will HP invest in serious app development?  We will see.

On a side note, secretly, some days, I miss my palm.  I used it for years.  But the minute apple released a product that could give me everything Palm did AND a phone, the days of carrying two devices were history!  I’m married to my iPhone, and very happily indeed.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in the other players in the market.  After all, contract divorce is getting less expensive every day, and mobile technology throws out a sexy new product every couple of months that makes me question my commitment to apple, I’ll admit.  But none have impressed me enough yet to make the switch.

There is one thing that keeps tempting me over and over about Android technology.  And that's the simplicity of sync.  With printers and other devices I mean.  Apple is a bit more complicated in that department, and there are occasions where I'd just like to do things wiht my iPhone that apple just doesn't allow. Like shooting a document from my gmail to a printer.  Android is tackling this desire and the sync issue with both efficiency AND style.  Not to mention the ability to get access to your data simply by inputting your google account info if your phone is lost.  Apple does have MobileMe, and it's a great product.  But it's expensive, and google's is FREE.  See my temptation?

As far as new apps are concerned, from a development standpoint Android and iPhone are pretty much head to head in development numbers. That means the same number of developers are scrambling and competing to get their apps to market for both platforms.  But the iPhone app store still dominates with what IS actually available for download right now today.  There’s a not so new kid on the block making more waves than ever though.  And it’s the classic Blackberry.  Although I’ve never personally been a long term user, I must admit, the Blackberry loyalty for those who are is incredible.  I won a blackberry at a technology conference once, but I only used it for the trial period that came with the package I won.  The reason? For mobile technology, I am looking for a more social experience, and that’s just not what blackberry is designed for.  It’s designed for business, and is as the writer of an article I read while researching for this blog most accurately touts, “it is associated with power, business and more power.” 

I am interested to see how far Blackberry will expand into the more social apps.  Or if they will expand much at all.  We are certainly keeping our eye on it as we expand into app development at eMarketSouth.  What most loyal Blackberry users don’t realize is that you can get the same features and functionality as the RIM platform offers….even for data and email….and plus so much more. I’m on a personal mission to convert my Blackberry loyal  friends to iPhone just for fun. Fear of the unknown is normal.  But I think it's a little more than that.  I  think it’s more of a comfort zone thing.  I hear all the time, "I just don't want to give up my keyboard." And I get it; once you find a phone you like, unless you have a reason to switch, most people don’t.  We stick with what we know.  But when someone shows you the light, it’s hard to deny, right?  And by the way Blackberry users, the touch screen IS a keyboard.  It's just a different kind of keyboard.  I didn't want to switch either.....at first.  But now, I'll never go back!!

Overall, I am fascinated every day by the enormous leaps and bounds mobile technology is taking.  I remember just a few short years ago saying to a friend, “wouldn’t it be cool if you could forward YouTube videos from your phone?”  Now I can do just about anything with my iPhone that I can do on my notebook.  Isn’t mobile technology grand!! 

Here’s an article with a little more detail on each platform and some insight on market share.

Let us know what you think?  What’s your favorite platform and why?  Post in the comments. We want to hear from you!

  • I think Apple will continue to be the leader in the market- if only for their name recognition and superior technology that everyone has come to know very well. That being said, I think most will agree that Google is STILL a sleeping giant, and between them and Microsoft, there is much more to come in the mobile app marketplace.

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