In a recent interview with RIM VP Jeff McDowell, it was brought up that App World had hit its 2,000th application. This may seem insignificant compared to the 40,000 applications in Apple’s App Store but there is a lot going on that is skewing the numbers.
While Jeff’s answer was good, saying “I don’t think it matters whether it’s 40,000 or 2,000, you’ve still got a broad range of choice,” there is something deceptive going on that should have been exposed during the interview.
Apple’s App Store, to put it simply, is bloated with “bulk apps.” These are template-based applications sold at the same price point with the same look and feel but different content. These applications are responsible for the spike in applications added to Apple’s App Store during the first six months of 2009, according to a new study published by hybrid location system developer Skyhook Wireless.
According to Skyhook, the App Store, which now has over 65,000 applications, added thousands of 99-cent bulk apps during the first half of the year. One unnamed developer, sells more than 850 travel applications based on the same template, with each individual app swapping out content based on specific vacation destinations. These mass-produced local search and travel guide apps now account for around one third of total iPhone LBS apps, Skyhook adds.
“The release of bulk apps is a monetization strategy. These developers aim to sell many apps at low price points and low volumes, rather than millions of downloads of one killer app,” said Skyhook Wireless director of marketing and developer programs Kate Imbach in a prepared statement. “There is not yet a well-understood path to monetization for mobile apps. Developers are experimenting with various price points, mobile advertising and virtual goods. Creating a catalog of bulk apps is another new and unproven marketing method for mobile apps. As developers experiment with these strategies, it will be interesting to see if bulk apps gain traction.”
While many developers have complained that it needs to be easier to develop for BlackBerry, this is one example where this has actually helped App World. Looking forward, RIM could learn a lot from this research. Avoiding bulk apps will be crucial to keep App World clean and tidy.