IDC analysts have published a list of predictions for 2010. One of those predictions is that 2010 will be the year of the app. It may seem like apps are ubiquitous now, but if IDC analysts are even half right you haven't seen anything yet.
The IDC predictions state "It will be a watershed year in the ascension of mobile devices as strategic platforms for commercial and enterprise developers as over 1 billion access the Internet, iPhone apps triple, Android apps quintuple, and Apple's "iPad" arrives."
Stop and think about that for a minute. For Apple to reach 300,000 apps in 2010 it would need to add about 180,000 more than it has now. To achieve that growth over 52 weeks Apple needs to approve 692 apps per day (not including weekends).
Apple claims to receive approximately 10,000 new app submissions per week, so the volume is certainly there from a submission standpoint. However, it would seem that Apple will have to significantly streamline and expedite the app approval process if it wants to hit those kinds of lofty numbers.
The Android prediction paints a similarly challenging scenario. Android isn't quite to 20,000 apps as of yet, but we'll round up for the sake of math. To add 80,000 additional apps to the Android Market Google needs 307 new apps per day, every day (not including weekends), for 52 weeks.
Although Android Market is the leading challenger for the Apple iPhone App Store, it is a distant (very distant) second in terms of app volume. A recent survey of Android developers found that a majority are unhappy with the Android Market and dissatisfied with the revenue they receive from developing apps for Android. Assuming the survey results have some validity, Google will need to remedy that.
Apparently developers are going to be very busy cranking out apps in 2010 no matter what platform we're talking about. Of course, having hundreds of thousands of apps is as much a curse as it is a blessing. The various app stores need to streamline the shopping and browsing process and find ways to help users find what they need out of the vast libraries of apps. I don't have time to casually peruse 100,000 apps to see what strikes my fancy.
The app store stats can also be misleading, or twisted to paint a misleading picture as well, though. There are approximately 100 million apps downloaded each month from the Apple App Store, but that statistic doesn't track how many of those apps are subsequently deleted, or how many are used on a regular basis. One of the chief complaints from users and developers is that there is no way to sample or try an app before its downloaded. So, many of those appp downloads are likely window-shopping and never really see the light of day.
In order for IDC's prediction that 2010 will be a "watershed year in the ascension of mobile devices as strategic platforms for commercial and enterprise developers" at least some of those apps need to focus on helping people be productive, communicate more effectively, and conduct business more efficiently. Adding apps just for the sake of adding apps won't help mobile devices become strategic platforms if the apps are porn or make fart noises.