Open mobile platforms and markets are all the rage.
Apple generated $30m in the first month with its iStore, and has attracted a plethora of app developers of all shapes and sizes – from Electronic Arts through to start ups like Palo Alto-based Tapulous.
The first Android-powered GPhone is about to hit the streets and this means the Android market will be open for business. RIM is working on something similar and Microsoft is creating a platform for selling apps on its Windows Mobile systems called SkyMarket.
But take a closer look at the Android Market and one thing is glaringly obvious – it’s relatively deserted. Sure it’s a chicken and egg thing, but what made Facebook’s F8 platform so successful in gaining immediate impetus was the critical mass element.
Currently, only a handful of apps are ready for Android – MySpace has a basic version of its soc network ready, imeem’s Internet radio service and a number of weather related apps are the pick of the bunch.
Where is everybody? EA’s Spore, which is the best mobile game I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing would be a great marquee.
So here’s the rub. The beauty of the iPhone Store was that you could generate revenue immediately. The Android Market is currently missing that key revenue enabler – a closed commerce system.
As the number of app markets proliferates and the total addressable market mushrooms I suspect we’ll see a number of meta solutions appear. In particular meta systems that can market, track and monetize apps across all the platforms as well as tools that allow developers to code once, and release cross platform.
In the meantime, app store owners need to focus on getting traffic in the door, app developers buzzed about their platform and a monetization mechanism in place.