iPhone Special Developer Report

By Scott Clark

iPhone Application Distribution: the App Store

Apple's App Store has seen some impressive growth over the last two years. According to 148Apps' App Store Metrics page, there are currently over 230,000 applications available for download from the App Store, coming from over 45,000 active publishers. The most popular category is Books, at over 41,000 titles available, with Games, Entertainment, Education and Travel making up the rest.

While developers may have a lot of choices when it comes to application development, they don't have many when it comes to distribution of those apps. In order to submit new iPhone applications to the App Store, a developer must be a paid member of the iPhone Developer Program, which, as mentioned above, costs $99 per year. The app approval process is taking an average of five and a half days, with a maximum of 35 days. Developers make 70% of the fees paid by users for their apps, with the average price for an app currently at just over $3.

Some will point out that there are other means of distribution, such as Cydia and other third party app stores, however they require an iPhone to be "jailbroken" before they can be used to purchase or download apps. The jailbreak process isn't difficult, nor is it very dangerous, however it may violate the terms of use that a user agrees to when they purchase an iPhone. The process will never officially be supported by Apple, and less than one percent of iPhone owners will ever attempt to jailbreak their phones, so the amount of exposure and use that an app distributed in this manner will see is minimal, and likely not worth most developer's time.

iPhone Communications Carriers: AT&T is King of the Hill

For those in the United States, iPhone carriers are limited to AT&T. Those in the UK have more options, with O2, Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile carrying the iPhone 4, and those who are located in Germany and the Netherlands will get their iPhones from T-Mobile. Canada's iPhone service is provided by Rogers, Telus and Bell Mobility.

AT&T is now offering a new iPhone 4G with 8GB for $200, $300 for the iPhone 4G with 16GB, and they are still offering the iPhone 3G for $99. Their new data plan provides users with 200MB of bandwidth per month for $15, or $25 for 2GB a month, with any data usage above those limits potentially doubling their monthly data fees. As AT&T mentioned recently in a discussion about their new data plans, 200MB of data allows users to send or receive 1000 e-mail messages with no attachments, 150 e-mails with attachments, visit 400 web pages, post 50 photos to social media sites and watch 20 minutes of streamed video. That's enough for most users, however hardcore downloaders will likely want the freedom the 2GB plan provides for an additional $10.

Another option that AT&T is offering is internet tethering, which enables an iPhone user to allow others to use their internet connection. It will cost an additional $20 per month for tethering, however that $20 doesn't come with any additional bandwidth--users are still stuck with the data plan they have previously chosen. Add to this that tethering apps have been available via the Cydia store on jailbroken iPhones, and AT&T isn't really providing anything that an app couldn't have provided, it's an option that won't likely be used by many iPhone customers.

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