Apple’s 2008 Q4 financial details were released last week, and were all over the web of course. So I won’t go into it myself, apart from highlighting that in just 15 months, the iPhone has grown to provide 39% of Apple’s income, and that – by revenue – Apple is now the the number three phone manufacturer, globally. Wow.
I just have a simpler equation to consider:
iPhones (original and 3G) sold: 13 million
Applications sold through the App Store: 200 million
200/13 = On average, each user has downloaded and installed
15 apps 7 apps.
(Edit: see my comment for an explanation of the revised figure)
I’m well aware that such a simplistic figure ignores an awful lot of factors (it would be more interesting to know the mode), and includes certain people who download a lot of apps. But, it’s a starting point. And from this point, one things springs to mind:
For a per-user metric, I think this average number of installed apps is quite high, and probably higher than any other mobile platform.
I’ve tried to find some metrics to compare with other mobile phone platforms (I couldn’t find any), but anyway, the baselines won’t be the same. The iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Blackberry etc. have differing levels of in-built functionality. Also, the number of pre-installed additional applications per device, per carrier-specific firmware, etc. would further skew the comparison.
Yet I still think I have a good idea of the average number of apps installed by users on other platforms:
Now wait a minute, I don’t mean you, so don’t take it as an insult. By the fact that you’re reading this blog, you’re likely to be a little more tech-savvy than your average mobile user, and much more likely to have installed some apps on whichever phones you own. Yet most people I know with smartphones do not realise the capability of the device that they use on a daily basis. Even if they do, they don’t have a clue where to download apps from (Hanwhatgo?). If they happen to find the on-device download function, then data charges may put them off, though this is becoming less of a concern with bundled data.
Nokia sold 15m smartphones in Q2 2008 alone, but I doubt many of them will have had apps installed on them by end-users. There just isn’t the knowledge or ease of use for consumers, nor the marketing to say “Yes, you can”. Almost every user with an iPhone is likely to have tried to download something from the App Store at least once. If they don’t already know about apps, then the App Store is right there on the device saying “Touch me, try me!”. You just can’t say that that about other devices.
(The notable exception is Android’s Market, which has somewhat aped the App Store experience, and is showing promise).
It’s quite clear that Apple has cracked the problem of cracked apps, and both the total and average level of downloaded apps shows the immense success of the App Store so far.