The Revolutionary iPhone App Store

More and more of the analysts and commentators are starting to realize predict that the coming iPhone Application Store will be as revolutionary for third-party software sales as the iPhone has been for smartphones.

Despite the analysts’ bad track record for mobile market predictions in general, I think they’re right about this one. There will be a huge advantage to having the App Store on the device, supported by the maker of the device and the OS.

Microsoft and Palm have been missing this for years. They’ve relied completely on third-party stores. There’s been no major advertising of the availability of software for Palm or Windows Mobile phones. There’s been very little promotional activity, and not much effort to raise users’ awareness of the fact that they can buy software.

Apple’s already changed this, and the store’s still 3 weeks away. Friends and relatives who have had only the vaguest idea what we do are asking whether our software will run on the iPhone. Articles about third-party software for the iPhone turn up regularly in my tech and business news feeds. There’s a link to App Store info on the front page of Major companies, including eBay, Electronic Arts, and Sega, have already announced and demonstrated their iPhone apps.

It’s going to be a whole new world for mobile software developers. Our biggest problem has always been that people just don’t know they can add software to their PDAs and smartphones. I’m convinced that Apple will solve this for us.

I know this does’t mean that our jobs will suddenly get easy – they won’t. There will be a lot more competition. It’s a very new market for us. And there are a huge number of open issues about the App Store, beginning with whether our apps will even get into it. Trial versions, upgrades, user info for support: it’s pretty clear that Apple hasn’t given any of these much time yet.

But I’m still optimistic that Apple’s monopoly on third-party distribution will be better for developers than the current mobile software distribution oligopoly. No matter how much I like some of the distributors, they’re not doing, and never have done, what the mobile market needs. And neither have the mobile hardware and operating system OEMs. Apple may end up helping them all as well – just raising user awareness of the availability of add-on software might improve software sales on other mobile platforms as well. But I’d bet that the distributors who haven’t already thrown in the towel are pretty nervous right now. Apple’s marketing, combined with the fact that they’re behind the software store, the OS and the hardware, is going to be very powerful.

I know there’s a lot of disagreement among developers about this, and I admit I’m uncomfortable with the idea that without Apple’s approval, we literally won’t be able to sell software for the iPhone. But the mobile software market badly needs a big change. I don’t know where we’ll be a year from now, but I’m pretty sure it will be a very different place. I’m all in favor of that.

And here are a few articles of the articles from this morning and last week:

*oligopoly: a market condition in which sellers are so few that the actions of any one of them will materially affect price and have a measurable impact on competitors

13 thoughts on “The Revolutionary iPhone App Store

  1. Michael Ferguson

    I am just about to buy a new PDA and at teh same time intend to change completely over to Apple from Microsoft. My PDA has just given up the struggle and i am relying on my PC to maintain my files within E-Wallet. I use this software all the time normally. The soon to be released 3G i-Phone interests me but i am a little disappointed that i will not be able to use this ‘very handy package’ if i buy one. I am hoping very much that you can convince Apple that your software should be supported by them!!

  2. Sean O

    I look forward to buying / upgrading my eWallet license to the iphone. It was my most used tool on Windows Mobile and I miss it tremendously on the iphone. I still use it on my laptop to keep track of passwords but that is only half the battle (not even half in fact). I have already signed up for the announcement but I hope it comes by July 15 or I will likely jump to another product – having passwords on the phone is something the eWallet excels at and once one has that capability it is hard to go back!

  3. Kevin White

    As a user, an Apple fan, and an Ilium Software product associate… whether you and I like it or not, Apple’s mystery about the Truth Of The App Store has pretty much nailed their popularity in the media and with consumers who pay attention to such things.

  4. Dave L

    eWallet is definitely my favorite App on my Windows Mobile PDA and one I’m not willing give up from if moving to any other PDA. The iPhone 3G has really tempted me to move and now that eWallet has been announced for the iPhone/iPod touch, there’s nothing stopping me anymore! I hope it will be a simple process to import all my existing eWallet data to the iPhone!

  5. Clarence N.

    I love using ewallet and would not give it up easily and with that said, I am hoping that Iliumsoft will continue to develop the web version. I did not upgrade to 6.0 because I love the version that I am on but dont want to buy 6.0 if an Iphone version will be released. I suggest releasing the web version to all users so we have another to consider your company the cream of the crop!

  6. Dean Roberts

    Even though I have had an iPhone for almost a year now, I purchased 6.0 because I love eWallet! I upgraded to 6.0 on my laptop and have been waiting for the software for the iPhone.

    I have upgraded to every version that’s been released. I just upgraded to 6.0 on 3/30 and it would be nice not to have to pay again to get the iPhone version.

  7. Stacy

    I’m also anxiously awaiting purchase of iPhone 3G and am so glad to see that work has begun on eWallet for iPhone as I hope to have the phone in hand on 7/11..

    I’m crossing my fingers that you can make it a simple task to move my wallet from my work PC to my home Mac and my Windows Mobile Treo to my iPhone.

    While I have been a loyal customer for many, many years and hope to stick with Ilium, if I have to recreate all of my eWallet cards, I may as well explore all available software options.

  8. David

    Will the iPhone version of eWallet be released at the same time the 3G and the AppStore launch (July 11)? If not, when can we expect eWallet for iPhone?

  9. Joel

    David like all things Apple you will see eWallet for iphone when the great Steve Jobs decides you are worthy..

    BTW any plans for an Android version of eWallet??

  10. Ellen Post author

    An article published this week on discusses the iPhone apps, and how they’ll probably be priced. What’s interesting about it to me is not what they wrote – nothing really new there – but the fact that this showed up at all on such a major site. This is exactly what’s never happened with Windows Mobile apps, and why developers are so excited (or panicked, depending on our personalities) about the whole iPhone thing.

    Joel, we’re certainly thinking about Android, no definite plans quite yet.

  11. Melonie

    iPhone is missing big time a good list maker and Listpro is the best. You need to monopolize on your current pool of Listpro users – maybe find out how many have an iPhone already. Once iPhone users see the power of Listpro the viral marketing will do the rest.

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