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Mobile apps stores (visit for insights)

  1. 1. C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND® TOPICS IN CONSUMER COMMUNICATIONS AND NETWORKING Mobile Application Stores: Success Factors, Existing Approaches, and Future Developments Félix Cuadrado, Queen Mary University of London Juan C. Dueñas, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid ABSTRACT networks, which are a natural match to the personal and mobility characteristics of these The mobile user experience has been signif- devices. icantly altered with the arrival of mobile broad- These factors have been leveraged by new band widespread deployments, massive players in the mobile ecosystem, resulting in the improvements in available smartphones, and a mobile application store model for content and shift in user habits toward a more participative, applications delivery. This signifies a paradigm communicative role. In this context, mobile shift in the mobile landscape, enjoying tremen- application stores have revolutionized software dous success and currently being the model to and content delivery. These stores focus on the aim for every remaining player. For the year applications, building around them an ecosys- 2012, reports forecast $15 billion revenue from tem of developers and consumers. The store mobile application stores [1]. greatly lessens the barrier between these In this article we present the main character- agents, providing significant benefits to both istics of mobile application stores. We focus our developers and consumers. In this article we analysis on two successful stores with different analyze this phenomenon, describing its origi- approaches: Apple AppStore for iOS and nating factors and fundamental characteristics. Google Play (formerly known as Android Mar- We also perform a more detailed study on the ket). We first describe the common characteris- two most successful application stores, identify- tics of these solutions, identifying the key ing different approaches to implementing the success factors of these platforms and outlining model. the fundamental value network of this model. Additionally, we compare side by side their dif- INTRODUCTION ferences, as they constitute two different approaches to the ecosystem as regards control Smartphones have revolutionized mobile phone and innovation. users’ experience, thanks to several key techno- logical advances. The deployment of third gener- ation (3G) and 4G networks has considerably THE MOBILE APPLICATION STORE improved the available mobile bandwidth, Mobile application stores have revolutionized enabling the provisioning of content and services the landscape of mobile applications and ser- powered by the cloud computing infrastructure. vices. However, they are not the first attempt at In parallel to that, device hardware specifica- mobile content provisioning. The most impor- tions have improved to the level of personal tant precedent is the Japanese semi-walled gar- computers, along with drastic interface improve- den I-Mode [2], launched in 1999. This model ments and usability enhancements. achieved significant local success, but could not Additionally, user habits are shifting from be translated to the rest of the world. mere consumers to a more participative This section presents a general overview of model. User-generated content is a reality the mobile application store model. First we pre- that is fostered by the hardware and network sent the technological and social changes over characteristics of these devices. Current-gen- the latest years that have enabled the success of eration phones are equipped with the tools this approach. Once the context has been clearly for generating content (e.g., through installed explained, we describe the market through a cameras), as well as the capability to publish characterization of the underlying value network, it immediately, from anywhere. This has been and finally, we present the key innovations that further promoted by the explosion of social have nurtured the ecosystem. 160 0163-6804/12/$25.00 © 2012 IEEE IEEE Communications Magazine • November 2012C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND®
  2. 2. C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND® MOBILE APPLICATION STORE ENABLING FACTORS Social network Over the latest years, technological advances and social changes have modified many aspects of Creation Search our lives. They have dramatically altered what tools recommendation we can do with mobile communications, as well marketing as what we want to do with them. These factors Platform Device Application are fundamental for understanding the success consumer Application Mobile of the mobile application store model. application Network provider From the network side, standardization bod- store ies have followed an active roadmap in the defi- nition of mobile communication standards (going Remote Billing from 3G to 4G), which raises the level of mobile service connections to wired network broadband stan- provider dards. These specifications are being deployed by telecommunications operators, as data traffic Figure 1. The mobile application store value network. has become the only way to maintain or increase revenue [3]. These important investments in infrastructure make the mobile Internet a reali- ty, providing an affordable mobile connection between them show value or information comparable to home broadband, barring conges- exchange. The three central pieces of the busi- tion limitations. ness model behind mobile applications (provider, In parallel to the evolution in wireless com- store, and consumer) are highlighted in a clearer munications, the capabilities of end-user devices tone. are improving significantly. Current-generation The value of the store is proportional to the smartphones have significantly improved hard- contained applications. An enormous variety of ware specifications (up to four 1.5 GHz process- assets is offered through this mechanism, rang- ing cores, 1 Gbyte of RAM, plus a dedicated ing from native applications, access channels to GPU), and are equipped with multiple sensor subscribed Internet services, and consumable and actuator interfaces (GPS, camera, content, to device-enhancing software. Current accelerometers, capacitive multitouch screens, stores are generalist, offering both professional multiple wireless communication interfaces) [4]. and leisure-related content and applications. Those hardware enhancements are seamlessly Applications cover a wide spectrum of interests, integrated into mature multitouch user inter- including games, social network access, news, faces, fundamentally altering the user experi- weather, productivity, and health. ence. The left-most function is the supplier to the In addition to these changes, the role of users ecosystem, the application provider. This function has been altered significantly. Traditionally users is key to the success of this model, as it fills the were passive consumers of information and con- market with applications to be acquired. This is tent. Nowadays, they play a more active role as fostered by imposing a low entry barrier to devel- prosumers. User-generated content [5] is a reali- opers. Multiple profiles of application providers ty, thanks to the availability of simple content coexist, ranging from amateur developers to creation and publication platforms. Audiovisual large enterprises. These actors provide applica- and journalist content is created by users, pro- tions, which are defined as native, installable viding huge value to the available platforms at a pieces of software, developed using the platform very small cost. This change of role has been application programming interfaces (APIs) and promoted by the arrival of social networks. guidelines, and provisioned through the market. These communities allow users to communicate, The producer role is supported by two addi- interact, and share through a self-contained plat- tional functions. First, mature creation tools are form. Their acceptance has been overwhelming, necessary, as they enable a productive develop- partially cornering the traditional Web vision [6]. ment process for applications at the targeted platform, as well as support channels for address- THE MOBILE APPLICATION STORE ing the technical difficulties. Additionally, the VALUE NETWORK always connected nature of the devices becomes a differential factor for many developed applica- The initial business model for mobile content tions, as they can rely on content and services was based on the semi-walled garden concept, hosted at a remote infrastructure (e.g., cloud where the operator exercised complete control computing). Therefore, many developed applica- of the value chain. This has been significantly tions rely on a remote services provider, which can altered with mobile application stores, which be the same actor providing the application or a create an open environment. The number of different one in charge of providing support actors is significantly larger, and the established (e.g., online leaderboard services for games). relationships are more complex. Consequently, Cloud computing has become a fundamental traditional value chains are not useful for analyz- factor in the success of many applications, as it ing this model. Instead, we present a value net- extends the possibilities of these applications, work analysis, where we identify the key while at the same time reducing computing costs functions and relationships that provide value to in centralized servers [8]. the ecosystem [7]. Figure 1 shows the main func- On the other end of the value network resides tions of the ecosystem. The relationships the consumer (the end user). S/he accesses the IEEE Communications Magazine • November 2012 161C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND®
  3. 3. C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND® store and consumes the developed applications. value, fostering the growth of the consumer Content determines The consumer becomes the center of the ecosys- base. The key innovations of the Mobile Appli- tem, interacting with many agents that were pre- cation Store model have been designed to take the value of the viously oblivious. advantage of this loop, attempting to benefit platform. As more Mobile applications reach the consumer application providers and consumers. consumers adopt the through a technological framework. The impor- Most innovations are targeted at lowering the tance of these elements has diminished, as the entry barrier for application producers. Develop- platform, the larger value now passes through them. The framework ment tools are affordable and high-quality, and the potential is composed by a hardware device, installed with licensing costs to publish applications to the the software platform (operating system and base market are very reduced. This is complemented consumer base services) that can execute the applications and with high-level programming languages and becomes for access the store. Additionally, the device needs a developer-friendly APIs, exposing the capabili- provided content. mobile or local wireless network connection, pro- ties of these new devices while providing an vided by the telecommunications operator, in abstraction layer over low-level, hardware-relat- This in turn increases order to access the store and the services. ed concerns. platform value, The third main function in this ecosystem is Additionally, the platform provides ready to the mobile applications store. This function com- use services and interfaces for advertising, secu- fostering the growth bines the traditional roles of content aggregator rity, cloud storage, or push mechanisms. The of the consumer and distributor. The store constitutes a direct publication process is open to every developer base. link between developers and consumers, signifi- and more streamlined, resulting in much quicker cantly reducing the barriers between them, as time to market. Moreover, full application life both interact directly with it. From the develop- cycle management is provided by the platform, er’s perspective, the application store provides including automatic update notifications for con- added value through an integrated billing func- sumers and smooth management interfaces. tion. This factor lowers the entry barrier for Finally, the revenue sharing approach is very small developers and contributes to creating a attractive for developers (with their share being rich ecosystem. There is room for different generally 70 percent of the benefits, even more billing providers than the one with the store, but in some stores), and is automatically managed by the store always acts as mediator (collaborating the store through the billing service (greatly with the specific agents). helping small developers and handling regional In principle, the application store is an open regulations, such as tax management). market, where every competitor has equal In principle there is no discrimination chances to succeed. However, it must be noted between great companies and independent that active markets are enormously competitive, developers, although in practice larger entities with tens of thousands of competing applica- have better tools to prosper a competitive mar- tions. These factors greatly increase the impor- ket. Nonetheless, the store is a natural fit for the tance of the functions related to discovery, long tail business model [10], enabling niche marketing, and recommendation of applications developers to push and succeed in the commer- (e.g., professional marketing actions, advertising cialization of innovative, specific products. strategies, and user opinions), as they play a fun- Developer diversity has also been motivat- damental role in application success. It must be ed by the rise of multiple business models that noted that the first vehicle for application high- complement traditional purchases [11]. Free lighting and search is the application store itself, to download applications generate an eco- but there is plenty of room for additional actors nomic profit through a variety of mechanisms, providing more complete functions that are able including in-app purchases (also known as to match consumers with desirable pplications. microtransactions), integration with advertis- Finally, although it is difficult to classify as a ing mobile platforms, and periodic subscrip- single function, the social network is a very rele- tion models for content access. Moreover, vant factor in the ecosystem. The social network applications are increasingly developed for connects the application consumers, as well as intangible benefits: as a means of advertising the developers. Their communication mecha- for a company, as a support element for an nisms are fundamental for the marketing and associated premium event (e.g., a music festi- recommendation functions (e.g. publishing val), or as an access mechanism for a sub- ‘achievements’ from a game into the consumer scription service, enhancing its perceived social network, or having a direct means of con- value (e.g., allowing access to a music or video tact with application developers through their service anywhere). social network accounts), as well as for allowing From the consumer perspective, the changes developers to interact directly with the potential presented in this model improve the user experi- consumers. ence for the market browsing and purchasing process. The store can be accessed through the SUCCESS FACTORS FOR THE same device that will execute the applications (as MOBILE APPLICATION STORE well as from external devices such as comput- ers), providing a simple interface for browsing A key factor for a successful content provision- the store, searching for specific applications, ing platform is creating a positive feedback loop paying and accessing them instantly. Additional- between content providers and consumers [9]. ly, the positive feedback loop provides an ever- Content determines the value of the platform. increasing catalog of elements, and enables an As more consumers adopt the platform, the larg- affordable pricing model, as well as alternate er the potential consumer base becomes for pro- means to monetize apps (e.g., ad-sponsored, or vided content. This in turn increases platform freemium). 162 IEEE Communications Magazine • November 2012C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND®
  4. 4. C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND® COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF 600,000 APPSTORE AND ANDROID MARKETS iOS AppStore Google Play 500,000 Up to this point we have presented the main ele- ments of the mobile application store model. Number of applications Apple defined most of these innovations with 400,000 the launch of the AppStore in July 2008. The translation of the iTunes music delivery model to applications and services for iPhone devices 300,000 supposed a tremendous success. Less than four years later (March 2012), the AppStore hosts more than 600,000 applications, and total down- 200,000 loads surpass 25 billion. Although the proposed value network displaces telecommunications 100,000 operators from the central role, they report increased profits from these users (60 percent higher ARPU in the case of AT&T). This is 0 originated by the traffic generated by application Jun-08 Dec-08 Jul-09 Jan-10 Aug-10 Feb-11 Sep-11 Apr-12 downloads, as well as the traffic generated by using the applications for accessing content and Figure 2. Evolution of Apple AppStore and Google Play available applica- cloud services. tions. Following the success of Apple, each relevant company in the mobile ecosystem has attempted to replicate their model. This way, platform phy behind each platform. While being consider- developers, device manufacturers (e.g., Samsung ably more open than the semi-walled garden, the Application Store for Bada) and telecommunica- AppStore model controls the central elements of tions operators (Vodafone 360 AppStore) have the value network (store, device, platform, ini- launched their own mobile application stores. tially the network). Developers have to follow However, it is still premature to determine which stricter acceptance requirements, also restricting of them become successful (gathering a critical what type of applications can be published. This mass of developers and consumers). At this time enforces minimum quality levels for the available only Google Android (and its associated store, applications, as well a homogeneous end-user Google Play) can be classified as a successful experience. positive feedback loop, when comparing rate of On the other hand, the Google Play model growth of applications and rate of selling devices follows a more open approach, with considerably [12]. Android is an open source mobile operat- fewer restrictions and more diversity for every ing system developed by Google, and supported function of the ecosystem. This approach by the Open Handset Alliance, an association of attempts to benefit from the force of the crowd more than 20 mobile hardware manufacturers. in every aspect: hardware manufacturers support After a slow start, Google Play has gathered the platform with a wide variety of devices, the 450,000 applications since its launch in October open source nature of the project allows its 2008, as can be seen at Fig. 2.1 rapid evolution as bug fixes and improvements For obtaining additional insight on the mobile are committed by third parties, and a non-restric- application store phenomenon, we analyze these tive publication policy for Google Play fosters two initiatives. The AppStore is the main expo- the influx of applications, enriching the ecosys- nent of this model, being the original implemen- tem. However, platform diversity can lead to its tation, as well as currently the largest ecosystem fragmentation, increasing developer effort when in number of applications and economic value. compared to a more homogeneous platform. Android has experienced tremendous growth Additionally, there is the risk that alternative rates over the last three years, becoming current- app stores (e.g., Amazon AppStore and the Kin- ly the fastest growing mobile smartphone plat- dle Fire) can segregate from the Google ecosys- form, with more than 850,000 devices activated tem. daily worldwide in February 2012. A significant number of these differences are While these two platforms follow the same related to the process of publishing applications fundamental principles (explained in the previ- to the market. Unlike previous models, the App- ous section), in some aspects they apply opposite Store is open to any licensed developer, but it approaches. The AppStore follows a closed imposes restrictions on applications before they model. Apple controls the device specification, can be published to the market. These require- platform, and store, and exercises limited control ments include legal aspects (e.g., copyright over the available applications in the market in restrictions), thematic limitations, and platform order to preserve the end- user experience. On homogeneity enforcement, mandating that the other hand, Android is aligned with the open approved applications follow every style guide- mobile innovation principles [13]. Platform line, and do not replace any functionality. On development follows an open source, collabora- the other hand, Google Play restrictions are lim- tive effort, and applications have fewer restric- ited to the legal aspects. These differences cause 1 AppStore and Android tions to join the ecosystem. Table 1 provides an the time to market for applications submitted to Market apps figures taken overview of the main differences found between Google Play to be almost instantaneous (from from official Apple and these two initiatives. the moment the developer submits a publish Google reports and state- These differences clearly reflect the philoso- request), whereas in comparison the review time ments. IEEE Communications Magazine • November 2012 163C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND®
  5. 5. C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND® Criteria Apple AppStore Android Market Platform (OS) iOS Android OS Platform source code license Propietary Open Source Licensing costs 99$ Yearly $20 one-time fee 70% Developers 70% Developers Revenue share 30% Apple 30% Google/Telco carriers Google Checkout Billing Mechanisms ITunes Carrier Billing Users can return any application before 15 minutes Refund policy Not allowed after the purchase Attempted to limit development tools and Available open source development tools. Freedom to Development restrictions programming languages. Restriction choose any development tool, programming language relaxed in June 2010 or framework. No restrictions. Application submission Review guidelines discourage submission of End-User Programming is enabled through Google restrictions amateur, unpolished applications AppInventor Closed IDE for specific OS (XCode), and Open Source reference tools (Eclipse-based). Freedom Development tools additional supporting tools for different approaches Internally managed Crowdsourced Approval Process Restrictive criteria Permissive criteria Pessimistic publication Optimistic publication Typical Approval Time One week Almost Instantaneous Initially one per country, open to all since Partnered Telco Operators Every major operator (with some devices sold exclusively) July 2010 Main Programming Objective C Java Language Device vendors supporting Open Handset Alliance (20 members including Sam- Apple the platform sung, HTC, and Motorola) IPhone (2G, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S), IPod Touch (4 Device models editions) >200 (midrange and high-end smartphones, tablets) IPad (3 editions) Minimum set of capabilities but large flexibility for device Hardware heterogeneity Fixed platform with yearly device upgrades manufacturers (e.g. physical keyboard or not, multiple screen size and resolutions, touch control technology) Disallowed. Applications overlapping exist- Base platform functions (e.g. keyboard, authentication), Platform customizability ing functionality are rejected can be replaced by market applications Google Play, alternate markets (e.g. Amazon Appstore), Application Install sources Exclusively the AppStore apk files Large diversity in hardware and software user interface. Homogeneous (safeguarded by by approval Look and feel Point of vendor differentiation. criteria, device characteristics) Danger of fragmentation Table 1. Apple AppStore and Google Play differences. 164 IEEE Communications Magazine • November 2012C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND®
  6. 6. C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND® AppStore approval and review process Android market approval and review process The differences between both approaches are clear. Submit Awaiting The AppStore model Developed review exercises stronger Process Developed control, which is Apply changes Submit / supported by the Retire In review automatic check ok power of its brand, decision User report / as well as its status [ko] reports++ [reports<threshold] Rejected On sale as the larger and [ok] [reports>threshold] most mature applica- Accepted Retire tion ecosystem. The for sale Google Play In review Release approach is riskier, [ok] Decision facing dangers such On sale as increased applica- [ko] tion piracy and Retire potential fragmenta- tion of the Figure 3. AppStore and Google Play approval processes. ecosystem. for AppStore submissions takes several days. In tion, or performing calls). However, this order to better describe both approaches, we approach brings additional risks, as it can be present in Fig. 3 two state diagrams with the cur- hard to understand the impact on battery con- rent approval and publication processes for the sumption, mobile data, or privacy implied by the two platforms. requested permissions The left side of the picture shows the App- The differences between both approaches are Store approval and review process. While clearly seen. The AppStore model exercises entrance to the process is open to everybody, stronger control, which is supported by the there are multiple controls and filters before power of its brand, as well as its status as the approving applications for sale at the store. larger and most mature application ecosystem. Apple manually inspects every submission, apply- Google Play approach is riskier, facing dangers ing its defined review criteria. The review can such as increased application piracy, potential either approve its release to the market or reject fragmentation of the ecosystem due to the het- the application, including in this case the ratio- erogeneity in devices, or a flood of low-quality nale for the decision. In this case, the developer applications that ruin the user experience. How- can develop a new version, addressing Apple’s ever, their adoption of the open mobile innova- objections, and submit it again to the process. tion paradigm enables faster evolution [13], Since its inception, this process has been inter- allowing it to complete against a more estab- nally optimized and clarified, in order to address lished platform. Hardware-wise, the diversity in the complaints about lack of transparency and devices opens up the range of potential cus- excessive review time. As an example, since tomers. Regarding software, there are many September 2010, the list of review criteria is applications that could not be approved under public, allowing developers to preemptively the AppStore, because their innovations com- address most of the concerns. pete with the core platform services, which can On the other hand, the Google Play approval bring additional value to the ecosystem (e.g., process follows an optimistic approach. Submit- innovative keyboard input methods or window ted applications are automatically checked (for management systems). security concerns) and immediately published to According to app developer surveys [13], the the market. The acceptance criteria are checked Google Play approval process is more popular. through crowdsourcing. Developers are liable for However, we believe that consumer trust of the the submitted applications, and users detect and individual applications from the platform is report unacceptable applications. After sufficient influenced by the approval process, and conse- reports are raised, the suspicious application is quently the willingness of users to pay. App- inspected by Google, removing it if the reviews Store’s initial control protects against malicious are founded. Malicious applications can be apps, whereas Android users have to assess the detected by users before any installation, as the trustworthiness of each application and develop- OS shows the user what services and permissions er. While trust is not the only factor, the majori- it will use from the phone (e.g., accessing the ty of applications are free in the Android market camera, Internet connection, location informa- (65 percent), whereas the same percentage rep- IEEE Communications Magazine • November 2012 165C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND®
  7. 7. C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND® resents paid applications in the AppStore.2 On multiple factors (trust, brand, platform services, As the number of the other hand, one of the fastest growing alter- user profile, supported devices). We believe that native Android stores, the Amazon AppStore, the decisions on how to implement the applica- application keeps has a percentage of paid applications similar to tion store model have a significant impact in the growing, finding Apple AppStore. resulting ecosystem. Both analyzed approaches quality applications These processes are continuously evolving in have created a positive feedback loop, but the order to adapt to changes in the ecosystem as economic nature of each ecosystem differs sig- and offering them to well as to react to competitors. AppStore nificantly (in this case, with the Apple Appstore potentially interested requirements were less strict when the market being more satisfactory revenue-wise for devel- was less mature, and turned progressively more opers [13]). As an example of those differences, users becomes a restrictive. However, recently Apple has slightly several top applications in both systems pursue major challenge. A opened its policy (e.g. relaxing restrictions on different monetization strategies (as an example, potential way of what programming languages are apps devel- Angry Birds is a premium app in the Apple App- oped with) because of the competition. On the store, while it is ad-supported in Google Play). addressing this prob- other hand, Google Play is favoring developers Another relevant question is about whether lem is to segregate with new measures (harsher return policy, there is room for specialized application stores authentication services for piracy fighting — in addition to generalist stores. As the number specialist stores, which is substantially easier on a more open of applications keeps growing, finding quality offering professional platform), and improvements of the consumer applications and offering them to potentially applications for a store experience. interested users becomes a major challenge. A The difference in approaches can also be potential way of addressing this problem is to sector, a specific age seen when analyzing how both platforms nur- segregate specialist stores, offering professional sector, or tailored for tured a critical mass of applications, initiating applications for a sector, a specific age sector, the positive feedback loop. The AppStore or tailored for a local region. The general long a local region. attracted from its inception considerable devel- tail principle that powers the applications can oper interest, thanks to the combination of an be applied to the store itself, as long as a criti- initial installed base of several million devices cal mass of interested consumers can be gath- and an application model with considerable ben- ered. efits for the developers. In the case of Google We have limited this study to mobile applica- Play, a critical mass of applications was gathered tion stores. However, there are other successful by a combination of incentives. First, as dis- applications of this model: The tablet market is cussed, they initially embraced an open platform the best known example, but also digital game model to attract developers, including open distribution for consoles and PC platforms fol- source development tools. The install base was low similar principles and have recently experi- also fostered by offering a wider array of enced considerable growth. This has motivated Android devices, as well as freedom to select the multiple attempts to replicate this model in addi- mobile operator and data plan compared to the tional domains and markets. There are ongoing initial iPhone restrictions. Additionally, they pro- initiatives to create application stores for operat- vided high-quality versions of the leading Google ing systems, web applications, television systems, services (e.g., mail and maps) as Android appli- or vehicle systems. This expansion of the model cations, with features not available in competing raises additional questions, such as the relation- platforms, such as GPS navigation. Finally, they ship between the life cycle of the developed organized application developer contests (with applications and the execution platforms. Differ- two editions of the Android Developer’s Chal- ent device types show different usage habits and lenge), with important monetary prizes that pop- favor different types of applications, raising ulated the ecosystem with a large number of free some concerns about the convenience of a uni- applications. fied store. In summary, the model benefits providers, and it is simpler and more limited for the users, DISCUSSION at the same time improving user experience. We have presented in this article the mobile Consequently, as long as users keep demanding application store model and its main two imple- this model, it can be successfully extended to mentations. Both are linked to a development additional domains and device types, where the platform, the iOS and Android operating sys- possibility to create an ecosystem exists. tems, competing directly with the remaining When analyzing the impact of the mobile platforms: Symbian, Windows Mobile 7, and application store model to existing stakehold- Blackberry. In this market, application stores ers, telecommunications operators have been have become a fundamental factor for success or affected the most. Their controlled semi-walled failure. Therefore, the concepts described in this gardens did not create a thriving content and article can also be applied to these initiatives. As applications ecosystem, and have been com- an example, we have presented the approach fol- pletely replaced by application stores. Today, lowed by Google for attracting developers to the operators face the risk of becoming a mere con- store and platform. In order to nurture their nection pipe for transferring value from devel- ecosystems, competing application stores must opers to customers, without receiving additional find a way to bring that value to their platforms. benefit from it. Additionally, the forecasts for However, the need to gather a minimum amount required bandwidth usage point to an enor- of applications and consumers limits the number mous increase in demand, due to the expected 2Statistics taken from of potentially successful initiatives. growth in the smartphone installed base. On Distimo’s Application The nature of a successful application store one hand, this can lead to a revenue increase, Store Reports. ecosystem depends on a complex combination of but on the other hand, it forces them to invest 166 IEEE Communications Magazine • November 2012C qM IEEE M ommunications q qM Previous Page | Contents | Zoom in | Zoom out | Front Cover | Search Issue | Next Page MqM q Qmags THE WORLD’S NEWSSTAND®