5 Ways Apple Can Harm Its App Store Success


Apple's App Store has blown by the 2 billion downloaded mark for iPhone apps, and who's to say Apple won't reach 3 billion downloads in half the time it took to get to that 2 billion? Maybe the only thing that can stop Apple's all-out, app-driven iPhone ecosystem is Apple itself, getting fat and lazy at the top of the pile and prompting the sort of paradigm-shifting backlash that would leave its App Store a mess of useless programs for outdated smartphones.

Don't hold your breath, in other words, that Apple would mess with that kind of success. The reason why Apple is trumpeting its 2 billionth app served for iPhone with much less excitement as it did its 1 billionth in April is simple: describing the App Store's (and the iPhone's) runaway success is practically rote. Where does Apple go now? Here are five situations it needs to avoid.

1. Misreading iPhone's popularity as a gaming device

Using data from the mobile apps researcher Mobclix, VentureBeat reported Monday that about 16,000 of the 85,000-or-so iPhone apps are games, beating out other categories like entertainment (the next highest number, nearly 13,000), books (about 10,000) and utilities and travel (both about 5,500).
We know Steve Jobs recently suggested the iPod Touch is intended as a gaming device, but if games are the dominant flavor of App Store app -- not exactly a surprising statistic, but interesting all the same -- when does Apple get serious about enticing gamers not yet sold on the iPhone as a legitimate handheld platform? Should it?

2. Misreading iPhone's business potential

If Apple is serious about iPhone's migration into business settings, rest assured it's taking a long look at those gaming statistics and considering ways to direct app development toward more expensive, enterprise-driven business applications. No one in his or her right mind's going to look at an app market dominated by gaming, entertainment and other leisure activities and think "iPhone for business" automatically.

3. Organizing the App Store as it continues to grow

Would it behoove Apple to re-organized the App Store into boutique applications delivery platforms that focus on individual segments with different pricing levels? Some analysts have suggested the coming discussion will be centered around the balance of paid versus free applications and how Apple and other app store proprietors present them.

4. Underestimating the competition

Does Mobclix's data hold any keys for rivals like Palm, Google, Research In Motion and Nokia? All of them have app stores for their smartphones and smartphone platforms but none has the same traction -- or cultural stature -- as the Apple App Store, not even close.

But rest assured all are focused on drawing attention away from Apple's robust app dev community, now at 125,000 developers in the program and counting. Especially Nokia, which remains the world's leader, at 45 percent, in smartphone market share.

5. Mishandling the addition of new iPhone carriers

The United Kingdom is no longer a one-carrier iPhone market, and speculation continues to mount that Apple will add additional carriers -- especially ones whose names rhyme with Schmerizon -- as early as nest year, removing AT&T's status as the exclusive iPhone carrier in the United States. Say it does add Verizon, however: what would happen to Verizon's upcoming VCast App Store and how does it jibe with Apple's App Store?