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Cellphones Software

Competition For the App Store Is Mounting 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-catch-up dept.
MojoKid writes "Right now the only real 'competition' to Apple's App Store is the Android Market. Presently, anyone using an Android-based phone can download applications from the Android Market, which first started offering free applications in October '08. A drawback to Android application developers, however, is the fact that the potential Android Market user base is fairly small right now, as there is presently only one Android phone available, the T-Mobile G1. However, in the coming months we're also going to see more app stores come online for additional smartphone platforms. Nokia will officially launch an app store for its Symbian OS-based smartphones at Mobile World Congress on Monday. Microsoft is also getting in the game for smartphones that run the Windows Mobile OS, with Steve Ballmer delivering the keynote speech at Mobile World Congress as well."
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Competition For the App Store Is Mounting

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  • by radimvice (762083) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @06:25AM (#26854643) Homepage
    The company I work for launched a public beta of our third-party app store this week, called Xpressed [xpressed.com] (the site is brand new, so feedback is welcome). Unlike the app stores mentioned in this article, it's a true "third-party" app store meaning that we're unaffiliated with any device manufacturer or carrier, and so we plan to support any and all phones out on the market that allow applications to be downloaded and installed from non-proprietary websites. Right now this pretty much means most of the Java-based phones on the market (several hundred current phones, plus the hundreds more old and obsolete devices).

    It will be interesting to see which model wins out after all of the industry players have their say in this growing application space - whether manufacturer-supported app stores (presumably) integrated with the devices themselves will continue to dominate, or whether third-party app stores like Xpressed will be able to find a footing, especially among developers targeting their apps across multiple platforms.
  • by mlts (1038732) * on Saturday February 14, 2009 @06:54AM (#26854749)

    I can see MS making an app store, but the rub is to get people to be using Windows Mobile based smartphones. So, the key is to get Nokia, LG, and other cellphone makers who are using JVMs on their low end phones to move to WM as the OS of choice. These are the cellphones that people obtain for free with a one or two year service contract, such as Motorola RAZRs. The trick is to get the phones out there in volume. I don't know if this can be done, though.

    Once WM is very common, as opposed to now where it pretty much is in a limited selection of phones, both Microsoft, and the WM app makers would benefit. Windows Mobile is a decent platform to write code on. It does require signed code for smartphones for the most part (less with PocketPC devices), but app makers can buy their own certificates and do the distribution themselves.

  • Re:Call me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by migla (1099771) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @07:06AM (#26854795)
  • by ivucica (1001089) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @07:31AM (#26854877) Homepage

    I for one extremely dislike virtual keyboards. It's quite clumsy to type on them, unless you have a stylus, and even then I'd prefer Graffiti. I don't mean Graffiti-like method, I mean Graffiti; both Graffiti2 from Palm and Letter Recognizer from MS are bad. Transcriber may be interesting ... if I only wanted to enter English text. In full. All the time.

    I use acronyms, I use Croatian language, I use programming language keywords and variable names. I don't enter plain English text.

    Graffiti is the best entry method to date, seconded by physical keyboards of any format.

  • by ptx0 (1471517) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @07:34AM (#26854883)
    Usually it's not so much the 'scraps' left behind by Apple as the groups that either dislike Apple, or have such a hardon for open-source software and standards that they won't succumb to it.

    For instance, whenever asking someone why they have X brand audio device instead of Apple, the answer is "Apple is too expensive", "it doesn't play OGG", "Apple sucks".. Sure, Apple likes to maintain tight control on everything they sell. Sure, Apple likes profits, but who doesn't these days?

    Once Apple realises that they can make even more money and have greater market share by reducing prices (maybe drop the price of every computer by $1000, and every audio device/phone by $200), then their marketing will be that much more effective. The problem with Apple vs. Microsoft is justifying spending $2000 on an OS. That's all you're doing. Any Apple machine can be found in Microsoft land with similar specs for 1/4th the cost.
  • by Shag (3737) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @08:24AM (#26855069) Homepage

    Once WM is very common, as opposed to now where it pretty much is in a limited selection of phones, both Microsoft, and the WM app makers would benefit

    Same question I posed to the guy who said things would change once Android gained market share: what circumstances are going to change that will cause WM to gain market share?

    Also, OS X is in a very limited selection of phones. Ditto Android. I can name those phones, as can probably all Slashdotters and I suspect a decent number of people on the street who don't even have smartphones could, too. What phones run WM? Uh... I think some Palms do. Other than that, I have no idea. And my life doesn't seem less rich and fulfilling for not knowing.

  • by ptx0 (1471517) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:24AM (#26855297)
    Just to clarify, I'm not anti-Apple; I'm anti-Jobs. His wishes to keep Apple extremely exclusive are what is killing the company. I have an iPhone. I don't see how anyone could use the device if it weren't jailbroken due to the number of things you can't do with it (On the iPhoneOS vs. Android issue: who gives a damn?) due to Apple's restrictiveness. You can't even sync an iPod Touch or iPhone using Linux anymore unless you jailbreak, SSH in, and change a config file to revert to an old DB version that doesn't have their hash check.

    Back to the topic though, the iPhone would be awesome, and certainly less made fun of, if Apple would get off of their high horse about their products.. But the customer attitudes probably fuel this.
  • The key is to charge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:25AM (#26855307)

    The reason why the App Store has taken off so phenomenally is because they handle commercial applications. This means that any geek who can knock together a mobile application is tempted to do so by potential profits. Think about it, write an app, get it approved, and then instantly make it available to millions of iPhone users who are only a click away from paying you. That's a huge advantage for Apple - because those geeks will be writing their applications for the iPhone and not the other platforms. This is why there are so many applications for the iPhone already. Apple were really smart here. If you look at the numbers, there are more 99c applications than free applications, and taken as a whole, free applications are a minority.

    Android Market is soon going to be rolling out support for paid applications in much the same way as the App Store. Once this happens, you'll see a similar surge in the number of applications available for Android. It won't be as pronounced as the App Store's curve, because Apple have a head-start now, but it will certainly put Android in the game. Although the iPhone has the client numbers, Android has the developer numbers simply because you don't need a Mac to develop Android applications.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @09:53AM (#26855435)

    The reason the Apple app store is as successful as it is, is because you can manage everything from that single site - browsing, buying, downloading, installing. Once installed, it's also guaranteed to *work* on your mobile device; yes, I know, that's rather easy since there only really is 1 'device', but if you keep in mind how many of the apps for, say, Windows Mobile come in at least 2 different flavors just to deal with square display vs 4:3 display devices, not to mention the resolution separation, then a user easily gets lost.

    Well, if Apple ever wants to upgrade its iPhone's display resolution for play with the form factor, hopefully the API can handle that easily enough without most apps having overlapping elements and the like. But I'm sure that apps will eventually have compatibility icons for which versions of the iPhone its guaranteed to work with (when there are more versions in the future).

    Truth be told, I'm surprised Apple doesn't ship an App Store with regular OS X computers by now. It would basically be their version of a repository, so reduce possibilities of malware by going to 3rd party sites plus I know enough people who have problems installing Apple programs (yes, they are that computer illiterate). It would make the newbs completely comfortable with buying, downloading, installing, and deciding whether to have the icon in the dock (with a checkmark) in one shot. Plus, it probably would drive some extra life into developing for the Mac - especially if developers don't have to bother with their own website and can expect decent payback.

  • by footnmouth (665025) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:05AM (#26855513) Homepage
    Over the last 10 years I've had 3 different versions of Windows Mobile and every time initial "shinyness" has worn off very quickly to be replaced by annoyance at stupid, stupid user experience mistakes.

    The worst of these is Windows constant delivery of messages to the user. On a desktop the "you have unused desktop icons" bubble is annoying - on a Windows mobile device, a bubble that takes the user focus away from, say
    • typing an SMS
    • typing a number
    • typing a note
    • accepting a call

    is a serious barrier to usage.

    The other thing that finally caused me to switch to a Crackberry (which is fantastic) was that it would crash on receiving a call occasionally - brilliant. It was the HTC Tytan if anybody cares.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @10:58AM (#26855769)

    There is only one iPhone, but with some 12M users plus iPod Touch owners as well is a much larger customer base. We've been looking at support for mobile smart phones recently and hands down the iPhone became the priority 1 application to develop for followed by a generic mobile version of our site for everyone else.

  • by Rutefoot (1338385) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @11:57AM (#26856121)
    Blind and visually impaired people are a small fraction of the population. There is a much larger market being neglected with many touch screen systems.

    People who don't live in sunny California who have to wear gloves for part of the year. It's actually been the deciding factor around our Toronto office when coworkers have been picking their new smart phone. Most have been opting for non-touch screen phones, or the Blackberry Storm. The inability to use the iPhone without hassle while you're on the go has ruined its chances of entering the business market.
  • What Policies? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trojan35 (910785) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @12:41PM (#26856417)

    I'm interested what the policies are on all the different app stores. I know everyone here hates Apple's restrictive policies, but I do appreciate how I can download any app from their app store and not worry about it breaking my iphone, spreading viruses, changing system defaults, or worse (like stealing passwords).

    What approval processes and policies do these other stores have?

  • by DanJ_UK (980165) * on Saturday February 14, 2009 @12:58PM (#26856525) Homepage
    Killing the company??

    Apple made a net profit of $1.14bn (£683m) in the 3rd quarter last year, compared with $904m for the same period the year before, and their market share has just topped 10% for their whole product base.

    How exactly are they, killing the company??
  • by Tacvek (948259) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:42PM (#26857385) Journal

    Handango is currently severely broken, now that it requires you to specify which mobile device you are using, even if all that is relevant is what version of the OS you are using.

    I should be able to specify that I want to see All applications compatible with Windows Mobile 6 PPC (as opposed to Windows Mobile Smartphone which ironically refers to phones without touchscreens (i.e. what most people would call dumb-phones)), including the applications that require the presence of a phone.

    As it is right now, if I go to select my device it is listed in the system under two different names (same phone hardware, but different branding, and small case-only differences). Both of these are include only a subset of all compatible software Handango sells, and more annoyingly both names for the same phone do not result in the same list of applications.

  • by oakgrove (845019) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @02:58PM (#26857535)
    You say the G1 phone "sucks big time". And I suppose for you, that's the case. However, I feel exactly the opposite about mine.

    I don't mind the thickness, as I vastly prefer the tactile response of the slide-out keyboard vs. the on-screen only iPhone.

    As far as the camera, I haven't taken the first picture, I have a real camera for that.

    The headphone jack dongle doesn't particularly bother me though, I do admit, I'd like to be able to charge the phone and listen to tunes at the same time.

    As far as the battery, you're right on. The phone should last at least twice as long per charge.

    Though you didn't mention it, some people take issue with the little blackberry-esque trackball. Personally I love it. Again, it's the tactile response I like. It's great for browsing the web and I also think it works well for games.

    For the overall design, it isn't the greatest but I've seen much worse on some Windows Mobile devices. It's just the bar was set so high by the iPhone, it's hard to come up with something to top it. As a side note, the bend in the bottom where the trackball and buttons are, is perfect for protecting the trackball when your phone is in a case so I think it was better to put it there than to just leave the phone straight, aesthetics be damned. Some may disagree.

  • by shmlco (594907) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @04:58PM (#26858413) Homepage

    Apple is running back-to-back-to-back record quarters, in spite of the economy. Yeah, Apple is definitely on its last legs...

  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @05:52PM (#26858845)

    Once WM is very common...

    After about ten years with Microsoft pushing CE/WM and using whatever resources it could to gain adoption and marketshare, if it's not very common by now there's no chance it ever will be. I could be wrong, but I don't think so in this case - there's no sign of anything amazing in the pipeline from Microsoft, and the upcoming cuts to their staffing are all but killing development in many areas.

    If Microsoft couldn't do it by now, what makes you think they'll ever do it?

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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