Saturday, February 16, 2008

Should Apple sell 3rd party iPhone apps via ITunes

Wired is suggesting that apps for iPhones developed using Apple's official SDK will be sold on iTunes. Just like how iPod touch users can buy the 1.1.3 maps, emails apps from iTunes store. While there is no confirmation yet, if Apple goes ahead, it will position the iPhone app platform as a serious alternative to the Android platform. There are numerous benefits to developers:

1. Apps can make real money and not just pie-in-the sky advertising dollars (which is as low as $0.15 CPM for facebook apps).

2. Apple will create a directory for apps and possibly vet them for quality and trustworthiness. Conversely, this will mean that to succeed any app must be approved by Apple.

3. No stupid apps or app spam because people won't pay real money for them. Instead of contrived metrics like "number of daily active users", iTunes can use the number of paying customers and their average feedback. Smart developers will let users try their apps for free, and the willingness to pay is the best measure of quality.

4. Successful apps will be able to demonstrate their commercial potential and get funding to release on other platforms such as Android or Windows Mobile or J2Me. Android is offering prizes of $20,000 - $100,000 to developers, but winning a prize from a committee of technologists doesn't demonstrate market acceptance.

This could really be a huge development for the mobile industry. Up until now, a few games companies like Jamdat mobile has monopolized the development of games for cellphones, which imo range from the trivial to the infantile. Operators have been unwilling to sign deals with developers without the "right" pedigree and the "right" set of ideas. This is about openness and open markets succeeding where walled gardens and planned economies have failed.

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