iPhone apps grow in volume and sophistication

As the iPhone adverts proudly proclaim: There is an app for just about everything.

Back in November last year, Apple passed the 100,000 mark for the number of apps in its official store, which is the largest in the world. Customers with an iPhone or iPod touch in 77 countries can choose from a range of programs in 20 categories, including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel.

The growth of smartphones, and apps for them, has been huge in the last year. Recent figures from AdMob showed that 50 per cent of iPhone users download at least one paid app per month, as do 35 per cent of iPod touch owners.

People with all types of smartphone device studied by AdMob - iPhone, iPod touch, Android and webOS - were found to be highly engaged with apps. The research showed that 13 per cent of users across all the platforms said they downloaded more than 20 free programs a month.

On average, iPod touch users download 12 apps a month, which is 37 per cent more than iPhone and Android users. The research also showed that people with iPod touches spend 100 minutes per day using apps, which is 25 per cent more time than people with the iPhone or Android.

Uptake of the devices is also expected to rise in the coming months. AdMob found that one in four iPhone users currently owns or intends to buy an iPod touch in the next six months.

Consumers also tend to be satisfied with their devices. According to the research, 91 per cent of iPhone users and 88 per cent of iPod touch owners would recommend their mobiles.

As a result, developers are also increasing their efforts to create apps for consumers. Further research by AdMob found that 44 per cent of developers use paid apps to make money from mobile sites, while 22 per cent use free apps with in-app transactions.

According to the survey, 64 per cent of developers have more than one app on a platform and they generally consider them to be successful. Forty per cent of those with apps on the iPhone felt it was very successful and 29 per cent described it has somewhat successful.

While apps are growing in popularity, so are smartphones. Figures from ABI research showed that in the final quarter of 2009, 25 per cent more devices were shipped worldwide compared to the previous three-month period.

Anthony Keyworth, director of product marketing for Orange UK, said that applications have progressed thanks to customer demand and feedback.

"I think the innovation is really being driven by the customers. In terms of the applications, the app market is really interesting," he commented.

"There are thousands of applications around at the moment and in many respects people are spoilt for choice, but with the way people can interact with [them], you get the cream rising to the top."

"What I've noticed is that the applications which are successful are ones which are easy to use, interact well with other applications, interact well with networks and are customisable," Mr Keyworth explained.

"If you think back to two years ago, the very early applications were very rigid in their format, but now applications are so much more usable, and people can make them useable to themselves," he concluded.

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