Developers of mobile applications enjoy an unprecedented number of channels through which to bring their wares to market. No longer are they limited to either capitulating to carriers to gain space on the deck or distributing their titles through obscure third-party retailers known to only a few consumers. Nor has the space ever been so potentially lucrative; developers are no longer forced to accept carriers’ revenue-share models that often fell somewhere between onerous and prohibitive.
The rise of this new app market can be directly traced to Apple, which almost single-handedly ushered in the era of mobile applications. The iconic iPhone has fueled demand for apps, while the App Store took a wrecking ball to the established mobile-content industry by cutting carriers out of the bargain. Embedding the App Store on the iPhone made it easy for customers to shop for and buy mobile apps, and the channel allows for a faster time-to-market than the carrier deck. And Apple’s simple revenue split – which allows developers to pocket 70 percent of revenues while Apple keeps the remaining 30 percent – has set the bar for the rest of the industry.
More than a half-dozen mobile app stores have launched since the emergence of the App Store, each with its pros and cons for developers. Builders of mobile apps must weigh factors such as the addressable user base for each platform, the market each serves and specific barriers to entry. And because the landscape shifts quickly in mobile apps, developers should also consider potential disrupters on the horizon as well as opportunities in mobile advertising and the emergence of new, non-phone devices like the iPad.