@GeeknRolla: Why app developers should look beyond the iPhone

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Mention the phrase “mobile web” to almost anyone and the chances are their mind will turn to Apple’s iPhone and the new-fangled iPad. But Ewan McLeod, editor of Mobile Industry Review, is not one of those people.

Here’s the video, fast forward to 2.10:

In his fast-paced post-lunch speech, McLeod warned that despite the iPhone’s merits its importance for developers is greatly exaggerated and they should consider putting their efforts into other platforms first, or at least as well as Apple.

McLeod argues that while Apple grabs the lion’s share of technology and media headlines with all its high-end gadgets and flashy firmware updates, the other manufacturers play a bigger role in the fast-growing global mobile economy. The iPhone may sell well, but “Nokia shipped 1.4 million phones today“, he says.

In terms of mobile operating systems, the iPhone currently has a 14 percent share of the global mobile market, compared to Nokia’s Symbian with a leading 47 percent, with BlackBerry maker Research in Motion the next biggest on 20 percent.

Adapting the old adage “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM,” McLeod says that nowadays, “nobody ever got fired for developing on the iPhone” – highlighting the rush by so many in the media/technology industries to grab a slice of the App Store’s success.

But the key isn’t to make a mobile app, says McLeod, but to sign a deal with a mobile manufacturer that isn’t Apple. “Handset makers are really, really looking for ways to make money – and they can give you five million users tomorrow.

“Developing on the iPhone is a lottery unless you have a big brand. Look beyond the iPhone – a lot of other companies will be happy to give you money directly or put you in a position to talk to their audience.”

VIDEO AT 2.11

  • http://foundersloft.net Florian

    Thanks for the summary. I watched the stream earlier today and really liked Ewan’s talk.

    He mentioned sth. about putting his presentation up, does anyone know where to get it?

    For that matter will there be a place where I can get most of the slides and maybe revisit a couple of talks on video?

    Thx
    Flo

  • http://www.mgwebsolutions.net Michael Gardner

    Honestly, there has to come a point where developers have to consider the iphone platform ‘full’ and move on…

  • http://davepress.net/2010/04/21/mobile-opportunities/ Mobile opportunities

    […] some minor edits for spelling and tidiness. A much better written summary of the session is on TechCrunch itself, and I have embedded the slides too, which are full of goodness. Ewan’s Presentation for […]

  • http://christianlouca.com/?p=514 @GeeknRolla: Why app developers should look beyond the iPhone « Christian Louca's Blog
  • http://www.berkeleypr.co.uk/blog/geeknrolla-1801.html GeeknRolla | Berkeley Blog

    […] Not everyone has an iPhone. I know, amazing isn’t it? And hard to believe given the number of iPhones (not to mention iPads) being waved around conspicuously at the event. But Ewan MacLeod’s presentation on why app developers should consider looking beyond the iPhone was a real crowd-pleaser. There are some fascinating stats in his presentation, which can be viewed on the TechCrunch site. […]

  • http://howcluelessistheukgovernment.com Hugo Rumens

    @Michael

    Surely by that rationale, the entire web got ‘full’ many times over many years ago?

  • Brandon

    Well said Hugo. Why is everyone getting scared or crying about the number of apps on the app store, how is that different to the internet and millions of websites out there.

    Its only scary for devlopers who have a gimmicky idea and no marketing skills. Just as you would build a valuable web property you have to make a useful application and market it like crazy, over an extended period of time. So I totally disagree with the slide that says the app store is a lottery. You could say the same about building a successful internet website. Look at the Geek n Rolla event another barrage of web startups.

    If you think that being on the app store alone is good enough for promotion then get out of the game.
    Another thing highlighted by the slide is that trying to make money from mobile advertising is a joke. If the developer Simon had charged around a pound, or a couple of pounds (because this is a money saving app in the long run) for his app and got maybe a half or a quarter of the total downloads he would have had potentially life changing revenue in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    If an app gets a million downloads who cares, its the revenue that counts. Can we stop applying the same eyeball/advertising metrics as the web which only a handful of companis have figured out.

    Free downloads don’t pay the bills as shown by this 420,000 selling app and a tiny revenue reward. People are conditioned to pay on the mobile. Look at the babe/flirt services, flirtomatic, tv competitions.
    Tap Tap Revenge is making millions in revenue etc

    Also in the presentation the number of handsets sold is a red herring. For a developer it is the propensity to purchase apps and the buying habit that is key. iPhone users buy apps and are actively hunting them which is an attractive environment for a developer. Nokia users etc do not yet have this same habit. Nokia can be as proactive as they want but go to 50 consumers on the street and ask them what the OVI store is.

    Also, android at the moment is not viable. Do people think that they will monetise amazingly well using ‘admob’ banners!!

    Apple sells tiny amounts of Macs compared to PC’s but pound for pound is hugelyprofitable.
    I would rather have 20,000 paid downloads at a couple of pounds a shot. Then say I have a headline grabbing half a million free downloads that generated me a thousand pound or two.

    Apple has also opened up in App Purchasing which if you make something valuable and charge a few pounds a month means you need a tiny loyal niche audience and not a smash hit seller who use your app and pay a small monthly fee.

    I think everbody in the tech should read what the guys at 37 signals are saying. Is it free to enter the gadget show or GMTV text competition. Advertising won’t save the day just ask Ning recently and no you aren’t google! Developers get real.

  • http://www.nokiausers.net/forum/lounge/35075-all-apple-iphone-ipad-discussion-6.html#post269774 All Apple iPhone/iPad discussion. - Page 6

    […] […]

  • Alex Kerr

    @Brandon

    A little bit defensive re: Nokia methinks :)

    > iPhone users buy apps and are actively hunting them which is an attractive environment for a developer. Nokia users etc do not yet have this same habit.

    How then do you explain Ovi Store downloads heading towards 2 million a day globally, multiple individual apps (that was apps by the way, not wallpapers or ringtones) achieving over a million downloads each, and a single developer now hitting 25 million downloads of their apps (that’s apps, again) on Ovi Store (matching the record for an iPhone single developer).

    It’s basically now disproven myth that a.) Ovi Store doesn’t work, b.) Nokia users don’t download from Ovi Store and c.) Developers selling on Ovi don’t make (good) money

  • Mohun Biswas

    Go Nokia!

  • Brandon

    @Alex. Thanks or just proving my point. Its about ratios, if you look at the number of Nokia handsets sold in the presentation vs iPhone the Ovi store should be blowing the iPhone app store out of the water. 2 million a day globally for the biggest handset manufacturer in the word is not that impressive when you look at in context of their handset sales in the presentation.
    Also, show some cold hard case studies of developers who have launched on the OVI store and made really serious revenue.
    Also, if you have a U.K specific app like national rail times etc the market etc is even smaller as those daily downloads are global.
    I’m sure the OVI store will get there but for now there it can’t be classed in the same league as the iPhone, especially for paid downloads. That is what I am interested in paid for apps, not this I’ve got a million free downloads and little or no money.

  • http://www.igloo360.com Kunal Asodaria

    Today iphone attracts more developers but a year ahead Android will rule.

    Guys Android supports 30 manufacturer while iphone?

    Android is open platform while iphone ?

    Kunal

  • michael Peachey

    Global numbers are all well and good if you’re trying to find a market for your latest $0.99 consumer game app.

    I’m trying to build mobile alternatives to existing web applications used by global enterprises. Access to the global teen population, Central American agriculture workers, or Asian entrepreneurs doesn’t help me.

    The conventional wisdom (at the time of this post) is that you can capture the vast majority of business users in global companies (N>10,000 employees) with support for recent Blackberry models and iPhone alone.

    I need help. Can anyone point me at statistics that would disprove this “wisdom?”

  • http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/08/09/nokia-gets-official-tesco-grocery-app-every-little-helps-right/ Nokia gets official Tesco Grocery app. Every little helps, right?

    […] And that’s my point: Nokia badly needs major brands such a Tesco on its platform if it’s to win mind share in the app space. Depressingly for the handset maker (and their users), the rule of thumb too often is that brands develop for iPhone first, then Android, and lastly BlackBerry or possibly, if Europe-centric, Nokia’s Symbian. It’s a scenario echoed time and again by Ewan MacLeod of Mobile Industry Review, although he’ll happily explain to developers why this may be a short sighted strategy. […]

  • http://www.blogle.org/2010/08/nokia-gets-official-tesco-grocery-app-every-little-helps-right/ Nokia gets official Tesco Grocery app. Every little helps, right? | Blogle.org

    […] And that’s my point: Nokia badly needs major brands such a Tesco on its platform if it’s to win mind share in the app space. Depressingly for the handset maker (and their users), the rule of thumb too often is that brands develop for iPhone first, then Android, and lastly BlackBerry or possibly, if Europe-centric, Nokia’s Symbian. It’s a scenario echoed time and again by Ewan MacLeod of Mobile Industry Review, although he’ll happily explain to developers why this may be a short sighted strategy. […]

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  • http://www.richardhartley.com/2010/04/pdas-newsbucket-282/ PDA’s Newsbucket | Richard Hartley

    […] times in six months >> Wired• @GeeknRolla: Developers must look beyond iPhone >> TechCrunch UK• @GeeknRolla: How not to pitch to VCs >> TechCrunch UK• Google's Android market tops […]

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