The Surging– Apps Economy…Culture, Innovation: Growth Engine for Mobile Devices– Smartphones, Browsers, Social Networks…

The apps economy is a game-changer… transforms, augments… traditional business models… places more importance on mobile as a channel to drive business revenue growth…

‘Apps’ are short for ‘applications’, which is another name for computer software programs. Normally, when people talk about ‘apps’ they are almost always referring to programs that run on mobile devices, including; smartphones, tablets… Apps are the enablers that make your phone, tablet… do almost anything that the programmers can imagine, within the technical limitations of the device.

It’s estimated that there are more than 1.5 million ‘apps’ across various mobile devices, including; iPhones, Android, Windows,  Blackberry, Nokia, and other smaller platforms; and there have been more than 50 billion downloads of apps.  In addition, it seems like every week somebody has a new study describing the size of the apps economy.

‘World Mobile Applications Market’ reported in January 2011 that the mobile apps economy will grow from $6.8 billion in 2011 to $25 billion over the next four years. That same month, ‘Gizmag.com’ reported that ‘Gartner’ estimated apps revenue at $29.5 billion, in 2013.

A month earlier, IDC estimated $35 billion in worldwide apps revenue by 2014. Whatever number you want to use, it’s big. ‘This is a pretty remarkable tech-adoption story, if you consider that there was no ‘apps culture’ until just a few years ago’, said Roger Entner at Nielsen. Every metric we capture shows a widening embrace of all kinds of apps by a growing global population. An apps culture is clearly emerging among mobile device users; particularly, among men and young adults’, said Kristen Purcell, Pew Research.

Although still in their infancy; mobile devices have become the hub of personal, work and social lives, providing the means for many diverse activities; ranging from– games to booking flights, hotels… to moving money. Combined together, a mobile device with selection of apps can add real value to user’s experience.

According to Marcus Golby; app-based services offer the ultimate solution for customers who demand mobile accessibility. Over the last few years; the thinking behind apps development has changed, dramatically. Companies are getting smarter, realizing that apps are not just a passing fad or simple branding exercise, but a key strategy for the delivery of services and meeting the needs of mobile device users…

In the article Full Steam Ahead for the Apps Economy by Eric Openshaw writes: Not so long ago, the apps economy was easy to dismiss as passing fad. How times have changed. Now a significant driver of value generation in the ‘open mobile’ era, the development and proliferation of mobile software applications, or simply ‘apps’, has rapidly blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry of its own.

Recent insight from ‘Deloitte’s 2012 Open Mobile Survey’ identifies the rise of the– mobile apps store, developer mindshare, and expansion of mobile brand strategies as the key issues for apps based growth. Agile incumbents and new entrants alike are leveraging each of these elements to sustain competitiveness, but certain challenges remain to navigate a sustainable revenue path. To begin with, the choice of platform can impact innovation potential.

Just look at the impact Google’s open-source platform and apps store has had in the developer community, where it’s viewed as a long-term winner in consumer markets. Deloitte’s survey respondents tend to agree– 85% believe an open, rather than closed platform is more likely to dominate mobile in next few years. Although Apple, the dominant force in the apps economy, has been very successful with their tightly controlled iOS platform…

Apple has more or less single-handedly defined the category with more than 600,000 apps now available in their apps store.  Thus, think carefully about platform strategy when trying to attract the right app developers to secure and collaborate the coveted ‘developer mindshare’. Understanding where the revenue will likely reside is also critical if using apps as a brand amplifier. Monetization begins with ‘developer mindshare’ and developers generally prefer old-fashioned pay-per-download compensation.

Other revenue alternatives include; mobile advertising and ‘freemium’ apps where user’s download for free, but pay for subsequent upgrades. According to ‘Deloitte 2012 Open Mobile Survey’; the most lucrative apps categories in short-term, are; gaming, social media, networking, entertainment, and navigation… For enterprise apps; customer relationship management (CRM), productivity tools… hold the most potential value. Knowing where the revenue will reside is important for those using apps as a brand amplifier…

In the article Apps Economy by John Kennedy writes: The arrival of apps economy brings a huge opportunity to generate economic growth by writing software for mobile devices, e.g., smartphones, browsers, social networks…  Since the ‘App Store’ launched in 2008, more than 700,000 apps have been published and downloaded more than 10 billion times, spurring thousands of new businesses. With the launch of ‘Windows Phone’ and the launch of ‘Windows 8’ with a whole slew of apps, Microsoft has ambitious plans for a world where ordinary people get their apps on demand.

Late last year, Steve Ballmer summed up apps economy opportunity: “There’s never been a better time to have software development as a core skill. The developer community is multiplying from the hardcore developers that may be 10 million people to more than 100 million people around the planet writing apps, and the chance to do more and profit economically is growing. Some 350 million Windows devices will be sold this year.”

Facebook has had apps, at its core, since 2007 and with the launch of ‘Timeline’ and a slew of mobile apps is a key player in the apps economy.  Facebook wants its new ‘App Centre’ to drive the distribution of apps from desktop to various smartphone platforms, including; iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

According to Charles Dowd at Facebook; their ‘App Centre’ will have a strong focus on mobile and driving a huge amount of traffic to smartphones and mobile apps… Dowd says, ‘our 500 million mobile user-base will be a big powerhouse for driving more success stories for small apps firms’. One of the biggest game changers, in browser space, is the evolution of ‘HTML5’ which will, no doubt, make the mobile web’s impact even greater; providing developers greater flexibility for creating apps…

In the study The App Economy by Dr. Michael Mandel writes:  The incredibly rapid rise of smartphones, tablets, and social media, and the applications (apps) that run on them, is perhaps the biggest economic and technological phenomenon today. Almost a million apps have been created for iPhone, iPad and Android, alone. Greatly augmenting the usefulness of these mobile devices, such as; play games, track your workouts, write music…

There is plethora of apps to choose, many of them free. On an economic level, each app represents jobs– programmers, user interface designers, marketers, managers, support staff… But how many? Our analysis shows that the apps economy now is responsible for roughly 466,000 jobs in the U.S.; up from zero in 2007 when the iPhone was introduced.

The top metro area for apps economy jobs, according to our research, is New York City and its surrounding suburban counties, although San Francisco and San Jose together, greatly exceed New York. While California tops the list of apps economy states, states, such as; Georgia, Florida, and Illinois get their share, as well. In fact, more than two-thirds of apps economy’s employment is outside of California and New York.

Our results also suggest that the apps economy is still growing at a rapid clip, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It must be noted, of course, that the apps economy is only a few years old and extremely fluid and changes in the location and number of apps related jobs are likely to shift greatly…

In the article Why Mobile Apps Economy Will Keep Growing Quickly by Kevin C. Tofel writes: Increasing reliance on smartphones will only continue as consumers see mobile apps as the key to help ‘pocket-able’ computers become more central to everyday life. A report from a PwC survey shows that more than half of the surveyed– 3,282 smartphone owners use their smartphones for three activities each day, namely; basic communication, accessing news-weather-sports, and social network usage.

And over the next few years, more than 40% of those surveyed expect their activities to increase across 14 other areas, such as; travel, healthcare, management… thanks to apps. That’s good news for developers and handset makers alike. Hardware makers of smartphones know that consumers will keep looking to improved devices with more features and performance; especially, as they cycle through mobile service contracts and replaces old handsets.

For programmers, it validates the mobile apps economy, even as the industry debates the value of– platform specific software as compared to increasing functionality through ‘HTML5′ and the mobile browser. Two key aspects in the apps-versus-web debate is– simplicity and a broader range of functionality. Respondents to PwC survey agree: There are more and more apps. There’s an app for everything… it makes everything easier and quicker… the only reason to ever use a browser is to– Google stuff.

One key area that PwC expects to see growth is mobile ‘storefront’ apps; and that’s due to increase in consumer’s comfort with online purchases from  smartphones... Given consumer preferences for single-purpose, focused apps, there’s no reason to think that predictions of 44 billion mobile apps downloaded by 2016 won’t hit the mark. In fact, given the increasing user reliance on mobile devices and improving mobile broadband networks, 44 billion downloads is looking conservative…

The apps economy is growth engine for mobile devices– smartphones, tablets, laptops… data shows that mobile apps usage has overtaken web browsing for the first time in the U.S. The average apps user is spending an incredible– 81 minutes/day playing around with them, 47% use their apps to play games, while 32% use social networking apps…  Retail apps are also on the rise– meaning you can pretty much plan your life through apps on your mobile device. But, how sustainable are the apps… 

According to ‘Anindya Datta’ says; ‘Apps come and go. We are constantly deleting them. That’s why the number of downloads is a very poor measure of an app’s popularity. Datta notes– 80% to 90% of apps are eventually deleted. That is why apps that are kept by 30% of those who download them are considered to be ‘sticky’ apps. Mobile device users are continually changing and experimenting with different apps: Each month, 10 apps on the ‘top-50 apps list’ are new, and of the 1 million apps available for users from the top-4 mobile platforms, only 10% of them are discovered, and much smaller percentage are actually used…

According to Peggy Albright; various research studies underscore the need to focus apps’ development on the creation of an engaging user experience, and that will keep customers coming back again, again.

Techniques used to cultivate customer engagement will vary depending on the type of app and business model, but there’s plenty of room for innovation in this area…

Apps are the ‘smarts’ in smartphones, and without apps– smartphones are just phones…