Research released last week by research2guidance provides the best rationale yet for enterprises to start their own smartphone marketplaces.
According to the firm, the two leading marketplaces are going great guns. The Android Market finished with 319,161 apps and Apple's App Store crossed the finish line with 459,589.
Actually, the number of apps that launched was higher than those totals (more than half a million for Android and more than 600,000 for Apple). The discrepancy - and the reason that enterprises should head for the hills - is that 37 percent of the Android apps and 24 percent of the Apple apps were removed. The newer WP7 Marketplace lost 13 percent of its apps.
Published apps are constantly being culled for a number of reasons, including quality, unaddressed bugs and incompatibility with the latest mobile operating system updates.
Clearly, a good deal of the failing apps are bottom feeders that no self-respecting organization would think about using - officially, that is. App marketplaces still have a bit of the Wild West about them. The scary thought is that nobody knows precisely what employees are downloading and bringing to the office - particularly those who work for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work shops. The bottom line is that not too much has to happen for the still relatively safe world of smartphones and their downloadable apps to devolve into an unsavory landscape reminiscent of the desktop circa 2000 or so.
Enterprise app stores can reduce at least some of the danger. However, there is no guarantee that phone users won't be visiting the other marketplaces. So, in the final analysis, the remedy is to create marketplaces that are as antiseptic as possible.That's one of the drivers of enterprise application stores. All in all, the trend is growing. Indeed, it is on Gartner's list of hot topics for next year:
Gartner forecasts that by 2014, there will be more than 70 billion mobile application downloads from app stores every year. This will grow from a consumer-only phenomena to an enterprise focus. With enterprise app stores, the role of IT shifts from that of a centralized planner to a market manager providing governance and brokerage services to users and potentially an ecosystem to support entrepreneurs. Enterprises should use a managed diversity approach to focus on app store efforts and segment apps by risk and value.
There are lots of good reasons for enterprises to start their own application marketplaces. The best, however, is that it reduces security risks.