The App Store Competition Cometh
Right now the only real "competition" to Apple's App Store is the Android Market. Presently, anyone using an Android-based phone can download applications from the Android Market, which first started offering free applications in October of last year. A drawback to Android application developers, however, is the fact that the potential Android Market userbase is fairly small right now, as there is presently only one Android phone available, the T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC G1 and the HTC Dream). A second potential Android phone, the Kogan Agora teased us briefly in January, but wound up being indefinitely delayed because it turned out that the phone's display didn't support the screen size and resolution that developers were writing Android apps for.
|Last.fm Android App|
Another drawback Android app developers faced was that the only apps that could be offered on the Android Market were free apps. Developers were informed last October that they would "be able to distribute paid apps in addition to free apps" sometime in Q1 of 2009 and that they would receive "70% of the revenue from each purchase; the remaining amount goes to carriers and billing settlement fees--Google does not take a percentage." In a blog post that went up earlier today, however, it was finally officially revealed that the "Android Market is now accepting priced applications from US and UK developers;" and that "initially, priced applications will be available to end users in the US starting mid next week." Additional countries will be added in the coming months.
But in the coming days, weeks, and months we're also going to see more app stores come online for additional smartphone platforms. Reuters reports that Nokia will officially launch an app store for its Symbian OS-based smartphones at Mobile World Congress on Monday. Microsoft is also getting in the game for smartphones that run the Windows Mobile OS, according to the Wall Street Journal. As Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer will be delivering the keynote speech at Mobile World Congress next week, he will likely provide more info on Microsoft's endeavors. Even Palm already has its own app store, which will likely see a lot more advanced and innovative applications available once the Palm Pre is shipping.
It's doubtful the Apple is quaking in its boots, but there is little doubt that the iPhone is about to see a lot more competition from other smartphone platforms.