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Apps Developers Will Crown the Victor -- iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android

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The corporate world's darling, Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) BlackBerry, will not be able to stop Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android juggernaut, as it lacks a key arsenal in its armory-applications.

A CNN report says that currently, Apple has close to 250,000 apps. Android has 100,000, followed by BlackBerry with 8,000, and Palm WebOS with 3,500 apps.

A recent report by Nielsen revealed that 50% of BlackBerry holders are contemplating switching over to either an iPhone or an Android-based phone. BlackBerry can plug this migration of loyal customers if it is able to increase the number of applications available for its phone.

Applications provide customers the opportunity to personalize their phones with wallpapers, social games, music downloads, and new icons, thus making applications a critical minimum for smartphones.

In fact, the current success of the present smartphone industry is largely driven by the acceptance of the smartphone OS by developers. Apple iPhone App Store says its applications for iPhones are provided after vetting them thoroughly, thus paving the way for developers to produce the best apps for Apple.

Ovum, a Datamonitor company, reported that iPhone manufacturer generated 67% of all mobile application downloads in 2009, though its smartphone market share was only 14%.

Ovum expects mobile application downloads from non-operator application stores to increase by a compound annual growth rate of 41% through 2015. Total downloads over that span are expected to jump to 21.3 billion from 2.69 billion in 2009.

Generally, developers prefer ease of coding in an OS that allows them to migrate successfully to other platforms.

Nonetheless, the Nielsen report suggests that Androids have taken over Apple, being an open-source platform. Thus the Android will compete on the basis of quantity of apps, while Apple iPhones will compete on the basis of quality.

But legalizing jailbreaking could be a game-changer, since it allows reconfiguration of iPhones to adopt Apple's restricted applications. It allows a fair play between Android and iPhones.

This leaves BlackBerry and PalmWeb OS in the lurch. Not long ago, Palm ruled the corporate market, and its Pre model was considered to be an iPhone killer, but due to lack of apps, it was swapped by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) for a paltry sum of $1.2 billion.

Lack of applications hinders the popularity of smartphones. In case of BlackBerry, users have to wait for another launch instead of updating their devices with new apps.

Moreover, new applications are a key source of after-sales revenue for companies, which the BlackBerry may miss out.

Thus, it's the developer who will decide the future of smartphones. Currently, developers closely watch the new phone sales figures to anticipate the market direction as they get the lead time to write suitable applications. 

The battle will be a choice exercised by developers between competing OSes, and as of now, Google's Android and iPhone iOS are leading the pack. Otherwise, the situation is quite reminiscent of the bygone days of the open-source Linux vs. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  )  Windows battle.

International Business Times, The Global Business News Leader

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 06, 2010, at 7:13 PM, Henry3Dogg wrote:

    Much of this is meaningless garbage.

    The words all make sense, and some of the sentences seem to. But they can still be wrong.

    Is there any chain of logic in the collection of words...

    "Nonetheless, the Nielsen report suggests that Androids have taken over Apple being an open-source platform. Thus the Android will compete on the basis of quantity of apps, while Apple iPhones will compete on the basis of quality"

    It is unlikely, for example, that recent changes to the application of US copywrite law will result in any significant change to iPhone buying patterns, and even if they did, it is bizarre to assert that this would in some way "level the playing field".

    It is true that developers are essential to the players.

    But their selection is based on far more than phone shipment numbers.

  • Report this Comment On August 06, 2010, at 10:43 PM, FreeRange1 wrote:

    @millerfallsman - you condescending pompous halfwit - you have no clue what you are talking about. The iphone has 10's of thousands of very useful apps. From specialized maps like subway maps, sophisticated language learning apps, currency converters, taxi cards, useful photography and art apps, all kinds of learning tools, weather, IM tools, etc. etc. etc. Blackberry's are several generations behind true smart phones and aren't about to catch up with the iPhone, especially as it relates to managing our digital lives. The iPhone is the MOST advanced handheld computing device in the world and RIMM is built on old world technology, design and OS. It is idiots like yourself that poison the well of the internet.

  • Report this Comment On August 06, 2010, at 11:35 PM, DefunctAcct wrote:

    @millerfallsman, the logic in your post is at best, strained. Engineers relies on facts and proofs and not uninformed opinions.

    Simulation is a form of games. Simulation is used in training USAF hot jocks to modeling Atlantic weather system all the way to operating as ingenious AI engines for games. Some of these "games" are rather serious life and death situational practices used by the medical, aerospace and military institutions.

    A practical AI system itself is actually a form of game. The adaptive architecture as well as adaptive data structures are all used by gamers.

    These are all basic Sophomore CS Major knowledge.

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