App Stores: Vital, Confused and Confusing

Carl Weinschenk

The app store business is big: ABI Research estimates that mobile app storefronts distributed 81 billion apps as of the end of September. The organization said that 89 percent came from “native” storefronts, or those sponsored by the organization selling the device or its operating system.

It also is a rather confused mass of everything from rudimentary games to sophisticated business apps. These stores are used by everyone from consumer to prosumers and professionals. Use by folks in their professional lives is especially heavy if the employer has a sanctioned BYOD policy in place. For that reason, organizations must keep the contours of how the app stores are structured on their radar screens.

There is a healthy world of dedicated enterprise storefronts, but ABI Research predicts that native storefronts, such those from Google and Apple, will continue to be the big players. Specialist stores are likely to only be strong in business and in areas the OS companies are loathe to deal with, such as adult content.

It is a vibrant world. In mid-December, Google said it would create “private channels” in Google Play. eWeek spelled out Google’s goal:

The idea is that by allowing businesses to create the personalized channels, they'll be better able to distribute their own internally built Android apps and approved apps that are already available through Google Play.

It also is good for corporate planners to keep in mind that the app store business is increasingly competitive so innovation and changing relationships will happen on a regular basis. Where there is competition and excitement, there also are frayed nerves. Late last month a brush fire flared when App Annie — a firm that watches the application sector — released numbers that appeared to suggest that Apple’s App Store revenue growth was slowing and was a small fraction of Google Play’s. It turned out, at least according to Venture Beat, to be a matter of how the numbers were reported.

Applications rely on these, little — or in some cases, not so little — bits of code to do a million things. The marketplace for enterprise apps is a growing subset of the entire app sector. Indeed, CNNMoney reports that Amazon’s Appstore has grown more than 500 percent during the past year. Events should be watched closely by developers, their bosses and, ultimately, C-level executives.



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