The 500,000 iOS apps approved are still just an appetizer

May 24, 2011
Tech

Less than three years after Apple (AAPL) transformed the mobile and all other media industries by enabling third-party developers to develop and market apps through its iTunes App Store, today comes word that the company has now approved more than 500,000 apps for sale. Mind you, because of a myriad of reasons why some approved […]

Less than three years after Apple (AAPL) transformed the mobile and all other media industries by enabling third-party developers to develop and market apps through its iTunes App Store, today comes word that the company has now approved more than 500,000 apps for sale.

Mind you, because of a myriad of reasons why some approved apps are no longer available (outdated, pulled from the store, etc.) there are only about 400,000 iOS apps currently available to download onto the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. When you combine this with the more than quarter million apps available for Android devices, and fledgling and/or emerging app platforms offered by BlackBerry (RIMM), Windows Phone 7 (MSFT), and others, you realize how profoundly and quickly mobile applications are impacting everything we do.

Of course, 600,000+ apps available across all platforms is really just an appetizer. At the current trajectory, the over/under of reaching 1 million applications overall is about Labor Day. And once we reach a mil, it’s not too hard to fathom clearing 10 million within a year or two thereafter.

Smarter with our smartphones?

While the parallels between today’s mobile app boom and the rise of the World Wide Web a decade and a half ago are unavoidable, we should focus more on the everlasting impact of the new technology rather than asking ourselves if we are living through another bubble.

From gaming and entertainment to news and productivity, there are already apps available for virtually every constituency and area of interest. Apps developed for iOS devices in particular are also pushing the envelope in areas like parenting and education. Yet, even with hundreds of thousands of mostly relevant options, we are only scratching the surface in terms of what mobile media will ultimately provide.

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A few years from now, even the most pioneering and forward-thinking mobile applications will feel like the original Netscape and GeoCities. Just as those companies enabled the later emergence of Google (GOOG), Facebook and others, apps like Angry Birds and Flipboard will seem antiquated by the time smartphone distribution becomes as ubiquitous as Internet access.

The trend is our friend

With Intel manufacturing transistors which could extend if not accelerate Moore’s Law (which tracks how computing power doubles while costs halve every two years), technological possibility will continue to surpass our ever-expanding appetite for new devices and applications.

More importantly, the technological literacy of our culture today is light years ahead of where we were in the ‘90s (which more and more looks like the adolescent period in the current information age).

Senior citizens who a decade ago were afraid of email today are checking their Facebook pages on their iPads (while wondering when the company will come out with its own official tablet app). Young adults just entering the workforce were just learning how to read when Netscape went public. Their intuition (if not brain chemistry) is – for better and worse – digitally influenced.

Smartphones generally and mobile applications specifically comprise the natural platforms that will allow anybody from any kind of device to consume and create media properties that will drive humanity through the 21st century.

Time to enjoy the ride.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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