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Converting the masses

Converting the masses

As mobile devices proliferate and dominate public attention, have business application developers had their prayers answered?

Flippantly equating a mobile phone to one of the holiest of holy figures in religious history is ballsy – even Judas would have thought twice. All the same, it’s a pretty good reflection of the revolutionary impact the iPhone 3G – coined the ‘Jesus Phone’ by many in the blogsphere – has had on the collective consumer conscious.

But the frenzied attention bestowed on the slick design, touchscreen capabilities and Apple’s success in getting hordes of believers to part with hard-earned income to get their hands on the Holy Grail – complete with capped downloads and two-year contract – is not the only revelation: The Jesus Phone has also delivered a new source of bread and wine for mobile application developers while bequeathing other denominations with a renewed verve in their own tenets.

“The real key to the whole piece and the biggest disruptive thing in the story is the software distribution mechanism Apple has put in place,” Gartner research director mobile and wireless, Robin Simpson, said. “It’s built on top of the tried and tested iTunes distribution system.”

In fact, using iTunes in this way has been a master stroke that came out of left field, according to Simpson. While Apple would not provide any Australian statistics on its softward development kit (SDK) usage, Simpson claimed some developers were already making $2000-$3000 a day from a $0.99 application.

“You don’t have to jump through hoops if you are a developer to get stuff there and because it is made available through iTunes and the App store on the phone, as soon as your application is there it is available to something like 6 or 10 million iPhones just like that, in an instant,” he said.

“It is extremely easy to get out to the market via Apple and all Apple takes for the privilege is 30 per cent. That in itself is fairly unusual because in the past software developers typically wanted more than that.”

Telstra, for example, used to ask for around 60-70 per cent during its i-mode era.

A burgeoning mobile market

Considering this much-heralded success and the fact the growth in mobility is predicted to continue exponentially – Ovum forecasts just under 5 billion connections by 2012 and revenues of more than $US1000 billion globally – it is understandable that other application development platforms would fight back.

According to some reports, Apple’s distribution success has pushed Microsoft to consider launching its own website (called Skymarket) to sell the more than 15,000 Windows Mobile OS applications instead of through sites like Pocketland, Handango and MobiHand. Yet, on the whole the birth of the iPhone 3G and the resulting distribution war is but one chapter in this rewarding but, ultimately, embryonic mobile application development story.


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