Without looking, do you know how many apps you have right now on your smartphone or tablet?
Like many of us I’d wager that you’ve probably lost track of exactly how many apps you’ve downloaded, especially if you’re constantly deleting old ones and downloading new ones. The average smartphone user actually has a staggering 41 apps on their device and it is predicted that 89 billion mobile apps will have been downloaded by the end of 2015.
That’s incredible when I think back to the discussions that were taking place in my industry at the turn of the century about how to monetize these micro-services. Orange was one of the companies that led the way in early-app development with a service called Orange World and the launch of the world’s first Smartphone – the SPV. But, while pioneering, the device itself along with the back-up, calendar, camera and gaming apps that you could download were all a far cry from the digital world we now inhabit.
It wasn’t until 2008 – when Apple launched its AppStore – that the market exploded. Since then it has seen more than 850,000 apps and 50 billion downloads – everything from games and music to productivity and health related apps. The simplicity of the AppStore sparked a revolution for consumers, who could download from a choice of thousands of apps with a single click, often for free. Apps such as Angry Birds, Shazam and Rovio became huge successes and earned their developers fortunes.
Google’s Play store for Android users is also forecast to pass the same download milestone as Apple by the end of this year.
The wider consumerisation of IT trend means that corporate IT departments are now embracing the benefits of this ‘app economy’.
Fuelled by an increasingly mobile workforce, the rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), faster mobile connectivity through 4G, and cloud computing, IT departments are using the app store model as a way of providing access for employees to critical business applications from anywhere, any device and anytime.
Many already use commercial enterprise app stores such as pioneer Salesforce.com’s AppExchange, which has more than 1,800 customer service and business apps available. Other enterprise software vendors, such as SAP, have also set up app stores for customers.
Organisations are also increasingly building their own internal enterprise app stores as a way to manage corporate-sanctioned apps for employees to use on PCs and mobile devices.
Analysts at Gartner forecast that a quarter of organisations will have an enterprise app store by 2017, while ABI Research says enterprise app store adoption will triple by 2018.
As we move into a post-PC, mobile-first era the app economy will continue to transform how we buy and use software, both as individuals and as businesses. Indeed, the app economy is forecast to double to $151bn in the US alone by 2017, according to AppNation.
We have come a long way in the five years since Apple’s AppStore launched, but we have barely scratched the surface of what is possible.