As Last 100 points out the recent announcement by Apple that the next version of the iPhone software, 3.0, will enable In App purchasing will be a huge boon for micropayments.
This is a huge step in the evolution of the iPhone platform towards a fully-fledged ecosystem. I also anticipate that it will bring about a boost in virtual goods.
Gizmodo thinks this is bad news, but meh, what do they know!
Apple has a tried and tested approach of creating complete, yet simple ecosystems and the one it has developed for the iPhone is testament to this genius.
However, ecosystems need to evolve or they devolve to the lowest common denominator. Much has already been said about the “commoditisation” of apps to very basic one offs with gimmick appeal.
Allowing for a deeper level of engagement within an app is key to this “appolution”. And one of the most important steps forward in achieving this in my view is to open the spigot for micropayments.
Om Malik has also called for this:
I would be spending a lot more if Apple extended the API to allow for the ability to transact within apps.” Nothing like buying a song, an application or a ringtone with a simple click, only to be billed in a batch, later. Such buying habits are the reason why we believe Apple’s iPhone could prove to be an ideal micropayments platform.
Back in August I posted a chart from Flickr showing the most popular cameraphones being used to post photos. It’s instructive to compare these charts again some four months later. The iPhone has torn open a huge chunk of white space from other cameraphones. It will, however, be interesting to see how the slight dip in the last week trends.
The Inquirer reportedly has knowledge of a Microsoft Phone, which we are dubbing the MicroPhone.
Thanks to MG Siegler for bringing this to our attention. The veracity of this report is pegged as “highly dubious”.
Either way as I see it at the moment the two key platforms to focus on for native, mobile Internet-focused apps are the iPhone and Android, given that there are already millions of iPhones out there in the wild and it is anticipated that there will be millions of Android-enabled phones out there next year.
This evening I got a hold of Google’s Voice Search App for the iPhone. Something struck me as it was downloading – I had not even checked to see the price. In fact, up to a certain price point I doubt I would’ve balked at downloading it even had I checked.
I am perceiving, as are others, that there are certain price thresholds for iPhone, and in time – other mobile, apps.
Let me run through them:
* Blind at price
The combination of a trusted source and high anticipation results in a “blind at price” threshold. As with the Google app – I would not have hesitated, but see later for the upper ceiling. The caveat here is that subconsciously I may have anticipated the app would be free given it is Google’s modus to give apps away for free and make money off ads.
*Buy to try
$2 seems to be the common wisdom of a price point at which most people are prepared to front up with the cash simply to try out an app. It is also a price point at which you are not likely to make much noise if you don’t get sufficient value for money. Adam Ostrow, in reviewing PhotoArtist, agrees as do a number of the people who commented on his story.
In contrast, when I downloaded CameraBag for $3.99 I was disappointed with the initial functionality and seriously considered creating a stink. Thankfully the app has since wobbled straight and I am loving it. In fact it is the primary photography app for me on the iPhone, which I am experimenting with as my primary photography device at present.
* Excellent marketing
Between $2 and $5 an app needs to both satisfy an immediate need and promise sufficient value. This translates into having excellent marketing of the app – a great picture, brand and blurb about the app and most of us will download it. This is what hooked me on CameraBag for example. It took about three “look sees” before I decided to take the plunge, but their story eventually thresholded me.
* Trusted name, compelling app
Between $5 and $15 there aren’t many apps that get me interested. However, with Will Wright’s Spore app I had no hesitation in putting the cash. The combination of his name, the corporate behind him and the actual app’s reputation had me hooked.
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.
Last year the flavor was Facebook’s F8 Platform. This year it’s been all about iPhone apps. Fast followers, like Google, with Android, and RIM are emulating Apple’s app store, but the defining moment(s) that point to the platform having reached a stage of nascent maturity are twofold:
* firstly, the Sydney Morning Herald has cottoned on to the fact that there is good money to be made from developing apps – I’ll let you read the piece written by Asher Moses for yourselves, but I suspect/hope the developers will now descend on this new vein of “easy” moola;
* secondly, an iPhone developer has taken on Coors in a litigation over a beer drinking app emulation that users the iPhone’s tilt motion. Brave move, I wish Hottrix luck and hope their law firm is taking this on purely on contingency.
It will be great to see more developers tapping into these mobile app stores, but the key will be in keeping up the quality in the apps.
Snapshot photography via the iPhone’s diminutive 2 megapixel camera has outperformed the Nokia N95 as the most used cameraphone for uploading photos to Flickr.
As Jacqui Cheng explains, it’s the ease of use factor that gives the iPhone the edge. Despite the quality of the pictures being far inferior usability wins out, yet again!