Posted by:Shyam Sundar March 24th, 2011

An app store is quite simply a place where you buy “apps”.

During the wild-west days of the PC, you could literally download any app you wanted from anywhere. Your broadband provider really did not have a say in where you got your apps form, neither did Microsoft or your hardware vendor.

But the phone ecosystem was a complete contrast. Smartish-phone users were more or less locked in by the carrier (the likes of AT&T, Verizon, etc…) to buy apps from the store endorsed by them. When you buy an app, it typically used to get tacked on to your phone-bill. App developers were really at the mercy of the carriers and had to negotiate with each one separately, tweak the UI based on their branding preferences and had limited visibility on who were buying their apps. Then came Apple. Actually, a brief peek into the history books shows that Apple was initially reluctant to allow “native” apps. They pushed the browser and HTML5 as the preferred way for users to access the “outside world”. They literally stumbled  into the app store idea when developers wanted to go native. And over 350,000 apps later, Apple is the 300 pound gorilla in the business.

Me-toos were not far behind. Nokia came out with the Ovi store, Google with the Android Marketplace and now Amazon with theirs, just to name the big guys. There are more than 25 “independent” app stores (see here), some of them vendor and carrier sponsored, and some truly independent. But for most users, the app store that comes pre-installed on their phones is probably the only store they will ever use. And here’s where Apple has the edge. AlliDevices have Apple’s store preinstalled, but there’s nothing stopping Verizon or AT&T to install their own store on Android devices. Or better yet, forking Android and coming up with their own (Vroid? ATroid?) version of it.

Are we going to see an app-store fragmentation and revert back to the good old days? Will Amazon be forced to launch their own phone to push their app store? Will Android ROMs become mainstream? Stay tuned, things just started getting exciting!

So, eager to learn why your business MUST take notice of Mobility ? Or want to decide which app is a right fit for your business? Download your choice !

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