Not much good economic news (including in the technology world) anywhere in these unprecedented economic times. But, one sliver of good news is the equally unprecedented growth of apps (programs and services) for mobile phones. Apple, not surprisingly, revolutionized the mobile software marketplace this past year with its high profile "iPhone App Store" -- with developers around the world clamoring for real estate on the ultimate in cool from a gadget perspective (my wife continues to express her "need" for one, and I thus far have resisted due to the shackles of our Verizon contract ... but, since it is almost Valentine's day, it may be time to give up !) The "iPhone App Store" is even more reason for many to become part of the Apple faithful -- and, as a result, Apple saw its share of the worldwide smartphone operating system market triple from 3% in 2007 to 9% in 2008.
Microsoft, ever the laggard in many respects, saw a far more minimal rise in its same market share, owning 13.3% in 2008 compared with 11% in 2007. And, seeing the surprising success of Apple's "App Store" market, Microsoft will enter that game shortly -- offering a similar one stop shop of apps for smartphones with its O/S. And, Google's own mobile O/S entrant -- Android -- this week will allow developers to charge for software via its own app store (called "Android Market").
The stakes are, at the risk of stating the obvious, extremely high. The mobile phone has already become the Swiss Army Knife of the technology world, empowering consumers for all of their tasks and needs (which are increasingly rich media). While others in the mobile O/S game saw bright spots in their own growth (Research in Motion rising from 9.9% market share in 2007 to 15.5% in 2008), the story for other O/S's did not -- most significantly Symbian, which dropped from 63% to 48%.
Even during economic times disastrous to many, consumers and business users alike still NEED their mobile phones. Mobile app stores -- rising ...