Demystifying the Mobile Enterprise App Store (Part 1)
Yesterday was one of the most enjoyable and interactive webinars we've had at Apperian. We had a record number of attendees, and a great Q&A session that I'd like to share as well. With so much packed into this session I'll break "Demystifying the Mobile Enterprise App Store" two parts. In Part 1 today, I'll focus on Public App Store trends, and in Part 2 I'll cover the Business App Store, B2B and company Private App Store model.
There is clearly tremendous interest in the App Store model. It's "App Stores Galore". New devices, such as the Kindle Fire from Amazon, are being released every day and competition in the tablet market is intense. Interest is high from both device manufacturers and carriers in establishing relevance as app and content providers. It's only going to get more competitive. Apple's App Store set the stage and as the first and biggest public app store, it's still the leader by far. Nine out of 10 apps downloaded worldwide are from the Apple App Store. Dominance was re-affirmed with the iPad, and right now Apple is riding high, though Android is catching up quickly. As the only authorized location for public iOS apps the App Store lists over 425,000 mobile apps, and has tremendous leverage through a centralized database of iTunes accounts that enable instant purchase.
Of course, beyond mobile apps, the iTunes account also lets you buy music, videos, and even eBooks, and it's easy to see why Apple and Amazon are big rivals centered around consumer content delivery. With the recent announcement of "VPP" (Volume Purchase Program) Apple is also extending their purchasing model to businesses (I'll cover this in detail in Part 2).
Blackberry App World is a RIM-only world, and with the tremendous installed base of Blackberry devices it runs second largest in revenue -- although still far behind Apple. App World is a nice world, but realistically only as relevant as the RIM devices. With the market failure of the PlayBook tablet the store is suffering. RIM still claims that they are "highly committed to the tablet market and the future of QNX" but the smell of fear is in the air with even the hard-boiled IT and Telecom managers thinking seriously about a change for the next mobile upgrade. The unthinkable -- IT telling employees to buy Apple devices! -- is now becoming the norm at many a Fortune 2000 company.
Nokia's Ovi Store features a tremendous number of apps (mostly free games) for 'feature phones', and is still highly popular outside North America. Nokia's strength is that it has the largest carrier-bill-through platform with over 130 carrier billing agreements in 36 markets. End user purchases occur instantly and are billed automatically to the phone. With a feature phone, there is no way to effectively get credit card billing, and Nokia is the envy of many by establishing this beachhead. It's really the "anti-Apple" model, since the relationship is to the phone (via the carrier) and not the individual. But it works well.
Google's Android Market is the "official" store for Android devices, and in many released devices it was impossible to obtain Android apps elsewhere. Nowadays, most handset vendors and carriers allow "non official" apps to be downloaded with a setting change, but the model of defaulting users to a particular store is akin to Microsoft's defaulting the web browser to Internet Explorer. Many users will go with the flow, and this will continue to be a powerful way to drive traffic to the market of choice -- that is, the choice of the handset vendor or carrier!
The Amazon Appstore for Android leverages one-click purchases via Amazon's huge customer database, and we expect the new Kindle Fire to make this store one of the fastest growing. Amazon has a huge array of ebooks, music, video, and will add to this with Android apps to become the one-stop shopping nexus for it's Kindle Fire users.
The Windows 8 App Store (the only place for Metro Apps) will replace Windows Marketplace, but Microsoft has a steep road to become relevant. Even with Nokia adopting the Microsoft operating system, it's unclear how well this will do. But if anyone can make a success of it, it's Microsoft (hey it took three times to get the Windows OS right!) But at the moment, it's still the "Apple and Android Show".
Some interesting niche stores include the Cisco AppHQ Cius, a single device focused enterprise solution using the AppHQ Manager. Also recently announced is the Verizon Wireless Private Application Store that will enable Verizon Wireless enterprise customers to define and manage their own mobile application storefront.
Time will tell whether restricting an app store to a specific device and/or carrier channel will get the leverage needed in the market, but my opinion is that niche offerings will struggle for mind share in this increasingly fragmented market. In summary, the Public App Store battle will be a battle for the hearts and minds of the smartphone and tablet user. Apple, Amazon, and Google will each use their own database to leverage the iTunes account, Amazon 1-Click ordering, and Gmail address, respectively. Apps are only part of the story, as content such as music, video, ebooks, and multi-player gaming all become part of the attraction for the end user willing to spend time on their myriad of devices.