New iPhone 4 Won't Stop Android
The much ballyhooed iPhone 4 hit stores last Thursday and as of today have netted Apple $1.7 billion in sales. And that should have a good ripple effect on businesses that have developed apps for the phone.
The iPhone's App Store is the 800-pound gorilla in the mobile world, with more than 225,000 apps. Google's Android Market has only 73,000 apps, but that says nothing about its astonishing growth. Android has doubled the number of apps in the Market every three months since 2009. And although the release of the iPhone 4 seems to have put a dent in the Android's market growth for now, I don't think the damage will last, and here's why.
Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, is a bit of a control freak. That comes across in each of the products his company makes, from the MacBook to the iPhone. The App Store is no different. The company requires complete control over every app that ends up in the store, requiring an extensive application process. It's all done in the name of guaranteeing the world "freedom from porn," as Jobs says.
And it all seems so arbitrary. Take the case of Mark Fiore. He's an editorial cartoonist for SFGate.com, the San Fransisco Chronicle's website. He developed an editorial cartoons app for the store called NewsToons, which was rejected last December, because it "mocked public figures." Editorial cartoonists exist almost solely to mock public figures, so it seemed that Fiore was out of luck.
Then he won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Suddenly, Apple changed its mind, and asked Fiore to resubmit his app. And wouldn't you know it, the app was accepted!
Developers resent this level of arbitrary control, and Fiore isn't the only case. Why did the App Store allow the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, but remove an app for people to buy sexy swimsuits? No explanation was given, beyond Apple's requirement for developers that it can ban "overtly sexual apps."
Developers need a stable environment to develop apps in, a place that is worth investing months of their lives and thousands of their dollars in. The App Store can't provide that stable environment. These content restrictions make it difficult for a controversial app to get in.
The Android market is more laissez faire. Developers still have to sign this agreement to get in the club, but it is far more reasonable than Apple's contract.
Unlike the iPhone, Android apps don't have to be acquired from the Android Market. Apps can be obtained from any source, including a developer's own website. Apple will never let its precious iPhone be that open.
The iPhone has a lot going for it right now, and its much larger app selection is one of the most important reasons it's more popular than the Android. But at this pace, the Android Market will quickly catch up with the iPhone in the number of apps. When developers realize they can reach an enormous mobile market without bowing to Apple's draconian restrictions, they will jump ship in huge numbers, and bring even more smart phone customers with them.
Tomorrow is part 2 of why the Android will over take the iPhone in the mobile market. Stay tuned!
Photo: Ming Yeung/Getty Images