Paradigm shifts occur occasionally in the long march of technology growth. The discovery of electricity, the first land-based telephone, the first mobile phones, and more recently, the development of Apps. Mobile phone makers were caught off-guard when Apple burst into the scene with its revolutionary iPhone in 2007. Promoted as a combination of phone, music player and Internet communicator, the iPhone opened up to third-party developers to create native Applications. Thousands of developers rushed in to develop various Applications – called Apps – that could run on the iPhone. A billion dollar industry was born overnight.
Not long after, Google introduced its Android platform in 2008 with a similar approach. Other players are also joining the App bandwagon. The introduction of tablet devices has fueled further the growth of the App industry. Apps have dramatically transformed the mobile industry, turning a voice-device into a multi-channel device that can be used in countless ways.
An App is – by definition – a self-contained piece of software that is designed for a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet, and increasingly devices such as laptops. App users are able to use their devices for entertainment (through games, food, travel, and music-related Apps), find information (location-specific maps, travel advisories, news, weather, or banking), or practical functions (photography, contact friends through email or SMS text messages). New and innovative usages are continually being churned out; there are limitless opportunities for developing entire new genres of Apps.
Businesses are beginning to recognise that having an App is becoming as necessary has having an online web presence. Retailers see opportunities for advertising and pushing sales through mobile devices, and in innovative ways. The way in which a mobile user, using his device, searches for shopping items based on geopositioning Apps is distinctly different from the traditional way of shopping.
Within one year of the launch of the iPhone, about 300 million Apps were sold. At present about a third of cell phone users in the US have apps on their phones, and the number of Apps sold is still growing. In 2009 alone, about 2.5billion Apps have been downloaded. The estimated sales of Apps is US $2.5 billion in 2009 and is expected to reach US $21.6 billion in 2013.
An entire market is springing up to help developers create new Apps and expedite their development. Seize the opportunity and don’t get left behind.