Opinion » Cybernaut


Feeling obsolete



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There are millions of people out there who still have analog televisions with rabbit ears, or are driving 20-year-old cars. So why do software companies assume that people are ready to jump on every new update that comes along? Especially when there's no discernable benefit for the average user who only needs a computer for e-mail, web and word processing?

I appreciate that this is a fine balance. There are lots of buyers who want the best and care a lot if one operating system loads five seconds faster than another, and they are generally the software company's best customers. But I seriously doubt they're the majority.

One billion apps can't be wrong

Although there are a lot of companies selling apps these days, Apple's iTunes model is the most successful by far. Last week the company announced the download of their billionth app, rewarding a 13-year-old with a $10,000 iTunes gift card, a MacBook Pro, and all kinds of other goodies.

Nine zeros. One thousand million. A billion is an impressive number, even if it does include both free and paid downloads.

To put that number into perspective, the iTunes App store has only been open nine months. That means 3.5 million apps were downloaded per day, or roughly 33 applications per user (iPhone and iPod touch sales combined). More impressive, the number of available Apps was low at first - just 500 at launch - and sales likely started slowly as well. Most of those downloads have probably taken place in the last three months, while some popular apps have been downloaded between one and two million times.

At this point no other phone comes close when it comes to the sheer number or variety of apps available. To date Apple has approved more than 20,000 apps and the number is growing all the time.

By way of comparison, the Google Android Market - iTunes chief competitor until the Palm Pre debuts - only had about 800 apps available in February at four months in operation.

To be fair, not all of Apple's Apps are useful. A quick search of the iTunes store for "fart" turned up thousands of titles, as did a search for ring tones. But I have drooled enough over some apps to seriously consider buying an iPod Touch, like iShred LE: Electric Guitar, the new pocket version of Myst, and the Wesabe App. Maybe for Christmas?