iPhone Apps Are Latest Gold Rush

in iOS Development (E)

[prMac.com] San Diego, California - The iPhone has minted a gold rush. In just two years, the iPhone has become not just a gold mine for Apple Inc., but also for companies that create the software programs that run on the device. Since Apple launched its iPhone applications storefront via its iTunes software, more than 100,000 applications have been created (148Apps - Nov 2009), with more than 1 billion downloaded onto iPhones and iPod Touches.

iPhone applications are specially designed software programs that work exclusively on the iPhone. They vary from sports updates to video games to utilities that allow people to use their iPhones as flashlights or as locators of the nearest Tim Hortons.

For media companies especially, iPhone applications are about staying ahead of the curve. In industry parlance, it's called being where the audience is. Optimistic industry observers such as Dale Fallon, director of Score Media Inc.'s mobile division, expect that within two or three years the audience for sports-based mobile Web sites and software will be the same size as the current Web audience.

Meanwhile, the applications act as incremental revenue streams, double as effective marketing tools and allow smaller media companies to extend their brands.

At Pelmorex Media Inc.'s Weather Network (Canada), the iPhone application WeatherEye is just part of the channel's expanding mobile arsenal. The network's offerings include a mobile Web site, desktop widgets and an application launched in March for use on the BlackBerry device.

The free WeatherEye has been downloaded almost 750,000 times since the end of October, with just under half of those by people outside of Canada. The French version of the application is the most popular weather application in France.

"From a return on investment perspective, it absolutely makes sense," said Mark Thompson, director of The Weather Network's mobile division.

Apple takes a 30% cut of any iPhone applications that are sold at its virtual store, but for applications offered for free, the companies do not have to share their advertising revenue with Apple.

The surge in iPhone applications has also benefited developers. With companies now scrambling to find anyone capable of making these programs, some developers command upwards of $200 per hour and applications cost between $15,000 to $50,000 to create.

Certain developers have found themselves in the spotlight after finding some of their applications - which invairiably retail for less than $5 - have yielded more than $250,000 in sales in thier first couple of months, convincing some to give up their day jobs in the process.

"It's a market that has appeared out of nowhere, really," said Ian Maskell, SEO of CA-based application developers site iPhone App Freelancer.

"All of a sudden, anyone who knows how to make an iPhone app are making lots of money off it. It's one of those things that doesn't come around very often but when it does, the first people through the gate make a bundle," he said.

However, with developers being in such high demand, the prices quoted for the development of some applications is proving prohibitive for many, so Maskell came up with a plan.

With what he believed to be a killer application idea, but struggling to find a developer (within his budget) who could help, Maskell set about creating iPhone App Freelancer, to connect "ideas people" to programmers and developers. "Through our website we offer companies and individuals with great ideas the ability to turn them into iPhone apps with little or no programming knowledge".

"Much like an auction, we bring entrepreneurs and businesses together with experienced iPhone application developers in the most cost effective manner possible" - says Maskell.

"We have approximately 800 members, and a pool of about 300 developers who receive notification whenever someone posts a new project," he says. "I would estimate we've had close to 100 projects completed."

And just how important will the iPhone become as an effective marketing tool in the coming months and years? "One customer stated that about 60% of the estimated five-million monthly page views they recieve on their site were generated by the iPhone" - Maskell states.

"With those kind of figures, you can see the potential is there for getting your brand exposed to a massive and ever increasing audience" Maskell continues - "from a business perspective, there is a massive captive audience at your disposal with the iPhone and the application market - the advertising potential is massive".

The mobile advertising market is expected to hit $12-billion (USD) by 2013, compared with about $1.7-billion this year, according to research company Informa Telecoms & Media.

"If you're not in the mobile space, you're missing a very big opportunity to communicate with your consumers," Mr. Maskell concludes.

iPhone App Freelancer is an iPhone application development website connecting 'ideas people' with experienced iPhone application developers. Much like an auction, employers' projects are posted and interested freelancers bid to complete the work. Copyright (C) 2009 iPhone App Freelancer. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone and iPod are registered trademarks of Apple Computer in the U.S. and/or other countries.