SOMETECHFORTHEWEEKEND: Amid the slew of news that accompanied Apple’s release of iOS 6 at the start of the week was the staggering stat that 30 billion apps have now been downloaded from the company’s App Store since its inception four years ago, writes Jonathan Webdale
What’s more, CEO Tim Cook announced that the firm has paid out over US$5bn to developers in this time – US$2.5bn of this last year along, up from US$1.5bn in 2011 – an indication of the exponential growth of a market, which prior to July 10 2008 simply didn’t exist.
But behind the headlines, serious questions are being raised about the how evenly these dividends are being spread.
According to some accounts, the majority of new apps vanish without trace at a time when investment is still pouring into app-focused startups, when hits are still happening, and brands continue to sink significant sums into commissioning them.
But the scramble for rights to the potential new .app domain name suggests that this market shows no sign of abating any time soon.
Cook noted that of the 650,000 iOS apps available 250,000 were created specifically for iPad – a device that will now also get Siri voice control and the ability to use this in order to launch apps, no doubt prompting a further wave of innovation.
Pinstagram, an app that rather cheekily mashes up Instagram and Pinterest, became one of the 250,000 when it arrived on iPad this week ahead of its progenitors.
Among the latter’s investors is Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, which put US$100m into the company last month and this week increased its credentials as a new digital media M&A power player after taking a stake in Wuaki.tv, a business described as a Spanish Netflix.
While Rakuten was busy spending, European venture capital company Balderton swiftly dumped its 13% stake in Sulake, the Finnish firm behind children’s social network Habbo, following revelations of grooming and cyber-sex within the virtual world.
Following last week’s LinkedIn debacle and Google’s claims this week that its engineers were unaware of Street View data breaches, tech is in real danger of suffering serious long-term damage to its reputation.
The Balderton/Sulake development brings into sharp focus the extent to which a VC should stand by their investment at a time of need rather than bail at the first sign of trouble.
Talking of investors bailing, with its stock price still down on its debut, Facebook went on the defensive this week over claims that its ads are ineffective, issuing new research from media measurement firm ComScore called ‘The Power of Like 2: How Social Marketing Works.’
The study highlights the effectiveness of “earned media” – the brand messages that Facebook users share with one another – but as has been pointed out,this isn’t necessarily good news for Facebook since this might encourage others to follow suit with General Motors, which last month said it would cease paying for Facebook ad space.
The social network stepped things up a couple of days later, introducing the Facebook Exchange – a real-time bidding system so that brands that do wish to pay can secure themselves the most effective ad slots, according to Facebook user profiles.
There’s no doubt questions still remain about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising – similarly the ability to achieve any impact with the launch of a new app among a sea of 650,000 – others argue it’s the creative execution (again crucial to the success of any startup) that really determines whether a campaign succeeds or fails.
While Facebook has been busy trumpeting its credentials, also benefiting this week from Apple’s announcement of deeper integration, arch rival Twitter responded by staking another claim to the crown of media sharing platform of choice.
The micro-blogging service bolstered its “expanded Tweets” initiative, placing extended content direct in users’ Twitter streams through preview, with partners including The Wall Street Journal, Time, MSNBC, The New York Times and others. More third parties are apparently queuing up, with the likes of Soundcloud showing off the possibilities.
Some claim that the development doesn’t only represent Twitter stepping up its rivalry with Facebook but also turns the platform into a far more attractive sharing option for big media, even going as far as to claim that it’s a lifeline to the content industry.
Certainly, one of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s other businesses seems to be gaining traction as well – Square, the mobile payment company, has clocked up two million users just six months after hitting the one million milestone. The company is now reportedly processing more than US$6bn in payments on an annualized basis, demonstrating that there’s clearly money to be made in apps after all.