It’s no secret that the mobile space is exploding. Smart phones are becoming a common sight everywhere, no longer reserved for geeks or tech junkies, there’s a smart phone for everyone. When I first got my iPhone 3G a year and a half ago, I was still early enough to be one of the cool kids. Now I see 40 something mom’s in the airport with them, fifteen year old kids are carrying around $700 phones, even my dad has a smart phone.
With the rise of the smart phone has come the mobile application boom. Apps on a cellular phone are nothing new, we can all remember playing snake at one time or another, but the new breed of apps are different. They provide a constant connection to the web, geo-location services, augmented reality, things that make it seem like we are in fact living in the future we only dreamed of as kids. Not a day goes by that there isn’t some major announcement, speculation or rumor about something relating to the mobile app industry. In an effort to keep on top of the trends, I will be posting a regular weekly column here on Inspired Mag. Each week I will recount a few of the stories relating to mobile or mobile apps that were big, important or just plain interesting.
Big Name Apps
Two of the biggest names in Social Media announced the release of their own native mobile apps in the past week. Both Twitter and Digg announced this week that they will have their own applications coming to a mobile platform near you.
Social news aggregator Digg now has an iPhone app in the App Store. The app is a great way to use Digg on the go, allowing the user to easily Digg or bury a submission, as well as to check out stories within the framework of the app. Making Digg available on mobile is a great move, it will make news on the go that much easier to navigate, and with the coming release of the iPad, seems like good timing on the part of Digg.
A new Twitter app was also announced this last week. Now an app that accesses Twitter is nothing new, there are already a handful of good ones for the iPhone, several for Android and there’s Ubertwitter for the BlackBerry. The difference is that this app, coming to BlackBerry in the near future, is the first in-house Twitter app. It will be interesting to see whether where this foray into app development will take twitter. Will we see an official twitter app for the other major mobile platforms? Will the Twitter team bring new functionality to mobile that hasn’t been available through public APIs? Time will tell.
The iPad, probably the most widely anticipated device since the iPhone, is coming to stores on April 3rd. Developers were scrambling to get their apps ready and in for approval by the 27th of March with hopes of having them approved and in the App Store when the first batch of iPads hit.
According to the New York Times, analyts are expecting around 1 million iPads to by the end of June. Overall, determining just how well the iPad is going to perform from a sales standpoint seems to be a bit of a guessing game. While tablet devices are not necessarily a brand new product, there has yet to be any tablet that has proven overly successful, unless you consider e-readers. Apple has not put forward any sales targets for the iPad, which has left many wondering what success looks like from the company’s point of view.
The number of mobile apps that are available for the iPad is likely to have a direct impact on sales of the device. Of course Apple has already announced that iPhone/iPod Touch apps will work on the iPad, but reports are already stating that a ported iPhone app does not necessarily provide a great user experience. In a recent TechCrunch article covering Instapaper for the iPad, developer Marco Arment stated that the experience (on the iPad simulator) of seeing his app scaled up turned him off of the idea of using apps that have been scaled up.
Results of a comScore survey released last week suggest however that apps will not be at the core of iPad use. According to the survey, the top two activities users plan for the iPad for are surfing the web and email. Only 26% of respondents stated that they were likely to download applications from the App Store and over one third actually stated that they were unlikely to do so. Maybe that will change if the rumor of an explicit category in the App Store comes true.
There were several interesting news pieces that came out of one of the big events in mobile last week. At CTIA in Las Vegas, Verizon Wireless made the announcement that they will be launching their V Cast store for BlackBerry apps.
According to PC Magazine, Google’s Android OS had a major presence at the show as well. Android phones were visible everywhere, including the Sprint Evo, America’s first 4G phone and the most powerful Android smart phone in the USA. With phones like this, Android is sure to become a serious threat to Apple’s iPhone, certainly an iPhone 4G can’t be far away. We all await with bated breath.
That’s All For Now
I could go on and on, the mobile space is truly exploding and there is no end to the news that’s out there. What were the top stories for you last week? I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspective.