Global software giants line up to dial mobile application market

Written by S Saroj Kumar | Chennai | Updated: Sep 30 2009, 06:40am hrs
At a time when mobile phones outnumber PCs around the world by a ratio of 4:1, mobile application developers like Google, Apple, Symbian, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony Ericsson, GetJar etc, are expecting great growth ahead, says a study by consulting and market research firm, Wireless Expertise Ltd.

With over four billion mobile users around the world compared to approximately one billion PCs, mobile phones will become the ideal channel for businesses to reach their consumers, the report observes. The global mobile application market including games is worth $ 4.66 billion in 2009 and will jump to $16.60 billion by 2013. The smart phone market is expected to surge 30% by 2013, approaching 1.6 billion users with sales expected to increase from 165.2 million in 2009 to 422.96 million in 2013.

Games, maps/navigation, music and video, news and weather, finance and banking, e-books, social networking, and sports and recreation etc would be the key drivers for this growth.

Tracking the strategies of IT majors itching to carve their early niche in the sunrise segment, the report finds that while Google Android has struck an alliance with Open Handset Alliance that has committed to launch the formers device, so far only HTC has released such handsets--the G1 and Magic.

Baiting developers with promotional assistance to bring mobile applications close to end users, Symbian Foundation plans to launch its application publishing programme, Symbian Horizon, in October 2009. The report says that Symbian Horizon will work with developers to create a single point of management and distribution to the largest group of mobile consumers worldwide. Reportedly assuring a 70% revenue share for developers and operator customisable content, Microsoft will launch Windows Marketplace for mobile by the end of 2009.

The Wireless report says that the Samsung Applications Store is part of the companys broad apps-based initiative, which offers free access to testing, business development tools, and technical support. Samsung is committed to launching Android handsets in 2009 and continues to push its own web browser, Dolphin, which has been used to offer access to a customisable widget screen on the firms newest smartphone, Jet.

Assisting developers with the launch of a free development site, Sony Ericsson allows developers to use its site for free.

According to the report, Sony believes that its apps stores need to be simple and attractive for developers to reach consumers, which will be achieved by establishing clear channels to push content.

Having their presence felt in the mobile applications market since 2005, Get Jar is now generating one million downloads per day and stresses that unlike Apple, it does not include updates within that figure. Similarly, eBuddy that facilitates users to combine Yahoo, MSN, Facebook Chat, AIM, ICQ and Google Talk in one single buddylist on their mobile, was able to register a record 1.2 million downloads per week by the end of July 2009.

Gazing the crystal ball on the role of mobile operators like Vodafone, Verizon and Telefonica, the report maintains that for Vodafone, developers will only need to create internet applications to reach its customers.

Interestingly, Verizon is investing in technology that allows users to access mobile content on their home phone (fixed land line).

Like Apple, Verizon will share 70% of revenues with developers. Elsewhere, Spain-based operator, Telefonica, is using a multiplatform strategy centred on the iPhone and Android devices and its users are already allowed to access the mobile version of Facebook though tailor-made for Windows Mobile and Blackberry devices.

Surmising what could be the benchmark for the mobile application market, Wireless Expertise says that companies either follow the application store model or adopt a browser-based model. The report contends that while the dual-based model may work for developed markets, for global penetration in developing markets, a browser-based model is required to reflect the range of devices available.