The mobile app market is heating up. Such has been its magnanimous growth that it’s nearly being termed as the club of the elite 15 – an elite 15 comprising Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, Google Search, Google Play, Google Maps, Gmail, You Tube, Instagram, Apple Maps, iTunes Radio/ iCloud, Amazon Mobile, Twitter and Snapchat. What’s interesting is that Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter own nearly all these apps in this list.
Before the dawn of the smartphone age, our humble cellphones were handy tools for communication – making calls and shooting SMSes. Of course, a few extras like alarm clocks, calendars, some rudimentary games, etc. were present too. I still feel nostalgic about the legendary ‘Nokia 1100’ that I held back in the day; the thing was made of kryptonite! However, times have changed dramatically since then. Smartphones today rule the roost and are becoming ever increasingly more powerful tools that do things that we once envisaged only in the Star Trek series. Alongside the increasing hardware capabilities (thanks to Moore’s Law), the credit goes to Mobile Apps that do specific tasks and make mobile phones fabulously smart. From entertainment applications such as the iBooks, Netflix and the much enjoyed Candy Crush, to work managers such as Google Keep, education tools like Coursera and WolframAlpha, Check to remind us to pay our bills and Next to manage smart homes, mobile applications are practically taking over our everyday requirements with ease.
What makes these apps so famous?
Mobile apps are built to adapt. This means – tweak it a little and fit it into any OS platform. No wonder it has grown exponentially and gained immense popularity. As of 2015, there were more than 1.5 million active apps on the Apple App Store, 1.6 million active apps on the Google Play Store, and 340,000 active apps on the Windows Phone Store.
Making hay while the sun shines
Today, the mobile app industry is a multi-billion dollar giant, and this is still the beginning of its growth story. There are upwards of 32,550 patents dedicated to mobile apps worldwide, of which, around 9,850 patents are filed in the US alone. The launch of the iOS catapulted the patent filing trend since 2008. Some examples of these app patents from Google are US2012124141, US8826342, and US7823155.
Vision Mobile, a market analysis and strategy firm, states that the mobile app economy this year is valued at an approximate $87 billion, and is predicted to gross $143 billion by 2016. Money has been exchanging hands quite rapidly in this segment with active and interesting M&As creating ripples. The 2014 takeover of Whatsapp by Facebook for $19 billion is just one example. Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs for $3.2 billon, NCR Corporation’s purchase of Digital Insight for $1.7 billion and again Facebook’s purchase of Instagram for $1 billion speaks volumes of the importance the mobile app industry holds. Lodsys Group, a patent assertion entity, created waves in the Mobile App Industry in 2011 when it started filing patent lawsuits against many application developers, dragging even giants such as Apple and Google to court. One of its early targets was Computer LogicX, a company that made the Mix & Mash and Mix & Mash Lite app for iOS. The lawsuit was filed over the use of an upgrade button used in the Lite version of the application. The patent in question was US7222078, which was filed way back in 2003. A quick search on the litigation history of this single patent indicated that it was involved in 74 litigations involving 103 associated defendants and 178 accused products. This is a remarkable feat for a single patent on one hand but a very cautionary story for the mobile app industry.
And while I am talking mobile apps, it does seem interesting to note that a Telerik survey has found that only 47% of developers involved in developing mobile apps, with an average of just one application a year. Even interesting is the fact that only 21% of the respondents plan to continue building apps in 2015, and specifically for the wearable market, while 0.09% plans to create apps for the Apple Watch. To know more, watch out for my next blog.
(Featured image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:8-UX-Pitfalls-To-Avoid-In-Mobile-App-Design.jpg)