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This week, Apple achieved what may be one of its most impressive milestones to date. In the past three years, it has approved 500,000 iOS applications for entry into the App Store.
The App Store, of course, is the world's most popular 'app store.' Billions of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch apps have been downloaded through it, generating billions of dollars in sales.
For developers hoping to hit the jackpot developing apps for smart phones and other portable devices, the App Store is almost always priority numero uno.
The numbers leave no doubt: when it comes to buying mobile apps, consumers feel far more comfortable handing their money over to Apple via the App Store.
A big reason for that is Apple's app approval process, which, love it or hate it, arguably provides a much greater level of quality assurance than is found in competing app stores, such as Google's Android Market.
But despite Apple's often opaque approach to App Store rules, the iPhone developer ecosystem isn't exactly squeaky clean...
Some publishers believe that Apple may hold the key to a profitable future. Thanks to the success of the company's iPad, for instance, there's a lot of excitement amongst traditional publishers who have seen their revenue from 'old' channels like print plummet. Some publishing moguls, such as Rupert Murdoch, are so excited that they're investing tens of millions of dollars in iPad publishing.
But previously, there was a huge barrier: a lack of an Apple-sanctioned solution for selling subscriptions from within Apps. That solution came yesterday, and it offers some things publishers will probably love, but a few things publishers will likely hate too.
It's no surprise that Amazon is launching an app store for Android. The ecommerce giant has come a long way since it started selling books online. Today, Amazon is rapidly evolving into a content company. And mobile apps are already a big part of the digital content business.
But despite Amazon's brand and size, there's no guarantee that it will become a successful player in the mobile app space. Apple is the 800 pound gorilla, and history isn't exactly conclusive when it comes to Amazon versus Apple. While Amazon's Kindle seems to be holding its own with the iPad, its MP3 store has hardly put a dent in the success of iTunes.
With the App Store, Apple has positioned itself as one of the most powerful players in digital content. Millions upon millions of customers now acquire everything from music to mobile apps through it.
But when it comes to Mac desktops and laptops, the App Store is irrelevant. Until now.
Are you ready to buy desktop applications through an app store? Apple thinks you are. In the next few months, it will roll out the Mac app store, which will let Mac owners purchase desktop software apps the same way iPhone owners purchase apps for their phone. And Microsoft has plans of its own for a Windows desktop software app store.
The big question: will the app store model work on the desktop? And is the desktop even a market worth targeting?
Not sure why Apple hasn't permitted your awesome iPad app in the App Store? Worried about developing an iPhone app using anything but Objective-C?
Rejoice. Yesterday Apple made a major, unexpected announcement: it's going to be providing official guidelines "to help developers understand how we review submitted apps" and it's also easing restrictions on the tools developers can employ when developing for the iPhone/iPad.
When Apple made it clear that apps created with Adobe's Flash Packager
for iPhone would not be permitted in the App Store, Steve Jobs had an
explanation: "We know from painful experience that letting a third
party layer of software come between the platform and the developer
ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and
progress of the platform."
Many, myself included, found Jobs' explanation to be somewhat disingenuous. Tools that facilitate cross-platform development aren't necessarily responsible for bad code and poor software; bad development practices and poorly-skilled developers almost always are.
Recently, authorities in the United States uncovered a scam in which criminals stole millions of dollars by making small charges to stolen credit cards. The average charge ranged from as little as 25 cents to no more than $9, which explains why 94% of the victims never noticed the charges.
If complaints that surfaced this past weekend are any indication, scammers with a similar model have set their sights on one of the world's most popular service for buying digital content: iTunes/the App Store.
iPhone users in the United States have an interesting relationship with their phones: by in large, most of them love their iPhones (and apps) but they don't particularly care for their carrier - AT&T.
AT&T didn't gain any love recently when it announced that it was revamping its iPhone pricing scheme and adding data caps, while 02 has announced the end of unlimited data in the UK. The new deal: lower costs for most users, but no more all-you-can-eat buffet. The goal: attract a new legion of mainstream iPhone customers but limit the profligate, network-harming usage seen with a very small number of customers.
Apple's rise to the top of the tech world has been marked just as much by controversy as it has by success in the mobile market. The company's desire for control has made it a target for critics, and potentially for regulators.
Apple attracted the spotlight when it implemented new rules that essentially killed Adobe's iPhone/iPad ambitions by making it clear that apps developed using Adobe's Packager for iPhone tool contained in the newest version Flash Professional would not make it into the App Store. And its dislike for Flash was made abundantly clear when the iPad was unveiled, sans Flash support.
An iPad news reader app designed by two college students has taken more than a few breaths away. Developed as part of a class at Stanford University’s Institute of Design, Pulse is everything you'd want out of an iPad news reader: it has both form and function.
The user experience is obviously a big reason why the app, which sells for $3.99, quickly became the top-selling iPad app in the App Store. And it's a big reason why Steve Jobs, who was reportedly disappointed with the New York Times' own iPad app, personally highlighted Pulse this week.