Fortune wizard ofapps

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Fortune wizard ofapps

  1. 1. Provided comPliments of At&t AdAPted from fortune mAgAzinethe Wizards of AppsSoftware developers are making pilgrimages to Cupertino to ask for prime placementon the iPhone App Store.by Jeffrey m. o’brienAfter six months in development,Zillow’s new iPhone application—a data-intensiveprogram that marries the gadget’s GPS functionalitywith the real estate site’s property-value estimates, orZestimates—was finally ready for the light of day. CEO Richard Barton considered the appnothing less than a relaunch of his company. Sonaturally he didn’t want it to disappear into thesea of 35,000 programs in Apple’s App Store. Awell-connected Zillow board member secured ameeting at Apple for Barton and president LloydFrink. And then the duo, who toiled a combined28 years at Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500),hopped a plane from Seattle for Cupertino tokiss a few rings—in hopes of elevating their appto What’s Hot or New and Noteworthy status inthe App Store. For developers, creating a must-have app that catches Apple’s eye is the key to success. “It’s ironic that one guy who started at Microsoftin the ‘70s, and me, an old Microsoft guy too, would be making forthcoming stores from Palm and Nokia (NOK)—feels oddlya trip to the Infinite Loop,” says Barton, referring to the address retro. A decade after the web emerged as a unified platform forof Apple’s HQ. “But when someone is potentially going to be delivering rich content, the mobile web has become a series ofyour most important partner, you want to get to know them.” proprietary systems. Developing a mobile play means refitting sites for a small screen, customizing to individual peculiarities,Apps Aplenty and redoing the process for each platform.That’s not the only irony in play here. For Zillow and hundreds But businesses ignore the wireless web at their peril. Inof other web developers, the rise of the App Store—as well as the less than a year, downloadable wireless apps have become theproliferation of competing wireless platforms such as Google’s place to be for online vendors, games, and content creators.(GOOG, Fortune 500) Android, BlackBerry’s App World, and And the influence of apps is sure to grow. According to the <1>
  2. 2. the Wizards of AppsPew Foundation’s recent study “The Future of Planet of the Apps Apple, BlackBerry maker RIM, and Google-backed Android all have “stores”the Internet III,” mobile devices will surpass that offer dowloadable applications. Here’s how they stack up.computers as the primary tool for Internetconnectivity by 2020. Apple BlackBerry Google App Store App World Android Market Apple, whose iPhone customers havedownloaded a staggering 1 billion apps since last Opened July 11, 2008 April 1, 2009 Oct. 22, 2008July, is clearly driving the trend. It wasn’t long Apps 35,000 1,000 3,200ago that the company’s developer-relations staff availablewas begging software publishers to build Macapps. Lately, however, the power compass has Apps 1 billion N.A. N.A. downloadedfound a new magnetic north. The App Store—an iTunes Store for applications— Most Facebook, Weathereye, Wikitude, Imeem, popular Crash Bandicoot, Viigo, Quickoffice,has turned the device into a moneymaking Nitro Kart 3D Slacker Radio* Ringdroidplatform for big businesses and indie developersalike. Pandora, an Internet radio company whose N.A. NOT AVAILABLE. *BLACKBERRY POPULARITY DATA FOR APRIL 29, 2009.app has remained among the most popular since SOURCES: APPLE; RIM; GOOGLEJuly, has been revitalized. “It’s been a game changerfor us,” says founder Tim Westergren. “We’re getting 30,000 new iPhone owners visit Mint 1.2 times a day on average, vs. twice aiPhone listeners a day, and 60,000 overall.” week for web users. Apple has spotlighted Mint in commercials. All that activity, not to mention ubiquitous iPhone Naturally Patzer gushes about his relationship with the company.commercials, has developers clamoring to get into the App But he also remembers what it’s like to be just another developer.Store. Only problem: Like the talent agent with a star client, “We literally found out that our app was approved because weApple (AAPL, Fortune 500) seems in no rush to communicate saw it appear in the App Store,” he says.with developers. The company claims that 98% of apps are So how to catch Apple’s attention? Developers suggestreviewed within seven days, but many developers gripe that the designing a must-have app for users, not for Apple. Greatreview process vacillates between opaque and capricious. The apps have a way of bubbling up, and when they do, Appleonly thing worse than an unexplained rejection is a months- will take notice. Even Zillow’s experience reflects that. In itslong purgatory of nonapproval/nondenial. first day Barton’s app was downloaded 16,000 times and climbed the real estate and lifestyle charts entirely on itsGreat Apps Bubble Up merits—without What’s Hot or New and Noteworthy status.Even the most successful developers acknowledge that Apple can No ring kissing necessary.be frustrating. Aaron Patzer, founder and CEO of finance siteMint.com, says his team launched an app last November. Today From the May 25, 2009 issue of Fortune. <2>

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