October 2009
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Day October 17, 2009

100k Apps

On Tuesday Apple will cross over 100,000 apps on the App Store for an installed base of ~50 million devices.

On Thursday Microsoft will launch Windows 7 with 8500 apps “certified” for an installed base of 1 billion PCs.

iPhone: not your father’s ecosystem.


On Units and Platforms

When thinking about the number of devices shipping out of Apple, and the relative value of those units compared to the competition you have to always think of the platform.

The market leader Nokia claimed to have sold 16+ million smartphones in the quarter. When comparing platforms, to whatever Apple ships in iPhones you have to add the iPod touch units. I see that number being about half of the iPhone numbers or about 4 million. Let’s say 10 to 12 million as a range for the platform. Already this is within striking range of Nokia.

It may sound that Apple has some catching up to do, however the important thing is that most of the Nokia devices are not uniformly addressable by developers because they are different platforms and the Symbian platform itself will be broken next year as it has been broken many times before. This is also true for Blackberry and Windows Mobile and will become true for Android as vendors fork and splinter the code to differentiate.

This already puts Apple in the pole position today in terms of contiguous addressable units volumes.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this platform effect. It’s what made Windows dominant and it should be the most important issue in the planning of new mobile products, but it clearly isn’t for Apple’s competitors. Either product planners are ignorant of history or completely hamstrung by other constraints on their businesses (I expect the latter).

As a result it’s inevitable that Apple will have a dominant platform. The numbers in apps and consumption of apps already are telling this story, and devs are voting with their code in a landslide. But going into 2010, this will become evident in the units and Apple share numbers will accelerate toward lead position.

The bogie therefore is to look for contiguously addressable installed base. On this basis of competition, I expect at least 100 million for Apple at the end of next year and less than 10 million for any competitor. At that point the game will be officially over.


On App Store as a Content Store

The implications of the new app transaction model are profound. To begin with, consider the following:

  • 10 MB limit – Devs can now get their apps under 10MB much more easily. This allows them to take advantage of users downloading over the carrier networks and not wi-fi. They can offer more content via in app purchase and make up the difference.
  • Rankings – It will be curious to see how Apple changes the rankings over time. “Top Paid” and “Top Free” just don’t really don’t make sense anymore with this model. Will they make “Top Freemium” or something equivalent?
  • Infrastructure – Developers have to deal with content delivery and updates to that content. Apple handles the transaction in the normal fashion and takes their 30% but then they leave it up to the developers to actually get the content to the iPhone. What if there is a bug in the content? The developer has to deal with making sure the user is notified of the update and then initiate the update.
  • Piracy – There has been a lot of talk about how this may help fight piracy but I think the numbers will tell a different story.
  • Apps as content – The deeper story relates to the transformation of the app store into a content store. I made that prediction a year ago but had no idea how it would happen. In the long term I expect Apple to merge the iTunes music/video content management system with the app store content management. This way you could buy music/video/books/games from within an app and have it available through your iTunes UI.
  • Addiction – “Apping” as the activity of using iPhone apps has come to be known, is already something that did not exist a year ago but has proven to be wildly useful/common/profitable. Only a year has passed and we are already in the realm of uncharted waters.


Comes With Trouble

I can’t believe this.
http://musically.com/blog/2009/10/15/comes-with-music-107k-users-worldwide/

For kicks, I looked up what I wrote about Comes With Music (CWM) a year ago:

Trouble Comes With Music By Horace Dediu on October 3, 2008 12:18 PM
The troubles that CWM will face:
The model is complex and the value prop is convoluted with users discouraged from making informed purchase decisions.
CWM is firmly embedded in a value network that is in the final stages of disruption. Profits have evaporated and participants are in a state of defensive rigidity that prevents investment in innovative business models.
To some buyers (esp. parents who will pay), the concept may sound more like “music sold as hardware” than “hardware loaded with music”. Music sold as hardware is what the CD is/was but this new hardware is bound to wither away and become disposable in a year, PC copies notwithstanding (as transfers between PCs are limited). Therefore, the limitations of perishable music persist and comparisons to durable media are unfavorable.
Competitiveness with pirated music is often cited as the goal. The means to that goal is the advantage of having “unlimited” content available vs. “60,000 songs on your hard drive”. The unstated assumption is that new music is always more desirable over a rich, but dated back catalog. Long tail theory says that’s not true for an increasingly larger group of consumers.
Finally, the bet is that users will upgrade devices as if they were a subscription. This becomes “music sold as hardware subscriptions”. As “music as a subscription” has not taken off, it does not bode well. One reason is that subscribed music is hired for a different job than owned music–one of discovery and casual listening–a job we used to hire Radio for. A job that is now obsolete in the era of social networking.

Nokia’s official comments one year hence:

the official blog on which Nokia is celebrating CWM’s first birthday acknowledges: “Sure, it didn’t start out that rosy, with lots of folk not really certain about what Comes With Music offered … we never shied away from the important education process that is needed in order to fathom that you can download and forever-keep as many tracks as you like – but the past 365 days have seen a much greater understanding and appreciation for the service emerge.”

Subs numbers:

  • UK – 32,728 (launch date: Oct 08)
  • Singapore – 19,318 (Feb 09)
  • Australia – 23,003 (Mar 09)
  • Brazil – 10,809 (Apr 09)
  • Sweden – 1,101 (Apr 09)
  • Italy – 691 (Apr 09)
  • Mexico – 16,344 (May 09)
  • Germany – 2,673 (May 09)
  • Switzerland – 560 (Jun 09)

For comparison: Spotify has 6 million users and iTunes has 120 million registrations.