After the evolution of Apple’s app store, Apps has become a critical element in the smartphone segment. The craze for apps is so huge that it has become a billion dollar market and all the OS developers are focusing to increase their database of Apps. Apple has traditionally been a closed company and I presume that Apple would have realized that standing alone it would not be able to build a huge collection of apps. Hence it provided SDKs and allowed external world to contribute to the development of apps. The entire process has become an instant hit that it has become imperative for any organization to let the world develop apps for them. Further, the advent of Google App Inventor that enables a non-programmer to create apps with ease only exemplifies that the need to empower end-users (most importantly non-programmers) to create their own mobile apps is the most pressing need of the hour. Probably companies have to identify more such innovative methods to increase the database of Apps.
Moreover, the existence of apps has become a key factor in the buying decision of any smartphone and it has pushed the importance of apps among OS developers. I am also wondering whether there is any possibility for apps to create a customer lock-in effect. Do apps really have the potential to tie the customer to a particular platform? Reports indicate that average iPhone user downloads 40 apps, considering 50% of the apps downloaded are paid and the average cost of the app is around 3$, the amount invested towards apps is around 60$. Is 60$ too big an investment for a customer to get tied to a particular platform. Otherwise, would he/she be willing to forego that investment to re-purchase those apps on a new platform? There are no straightforward answers. At least I can conclude that apps have the potential to create a lock-in considering the fact that the average number of apps downloaded by the users is on an increasing trend.
However, the bigger question that remains now is whether HTML5 will take the sheen away from native app developers. The emergence of HTML5 might allow the developers to develop apps that are independent of the platform. Such a scenario will re-define the entire apps ecosystem and reduce the significance of OS developers. Until then, OS developers are poised to rule the roost and define the rules of apps eco-system.