The App Boom You're Missing
Apps are moving quickly from smartphones to PCs, as PC World notes, because they can be written and monetized quickly. Chomp.Com has a graph covering 500,000 approved apps in the iTunes store alone. Games are just 15% of the market, and the average price paid for an iTunes app is $3.64.
The app world also evolves in Internet Time. This week Robert Scoble heralded the coming of "contextualized apps," apps that can look at your phone sensors and generate warnings based on what you're doing.
This is made possible by a Qualcomm(QCOM) software development kit called Gimbal, which reduces the "battery cost" of such apps and gives developers a central store of data through Qualcomm chips. It's perfect for the "Google Glasses" that Sergey Brin demonstrated at the company's latest developer conference, an innovation Apple and Microsoft are rumored to be working on.
Appdata's list of the largest app makers shows big outfits like Microsoft, Yahoo(YHOO) and Electronic Arts(EA) , Angry Birds maker Rovio, the recently-acquired Instagram, and a whole bunch of other companies that you've never heard of.
As with the social boom, this one will end in tears. Venture capitalists and private equity will reap all the rewards and take all the risks. Only one company in the app business has gone public, Zynga(ZNGA) , and it has been falling ever since its IPO. Yelp(YELP) , a social start-up whose stock is also going nowhere fast, is also big in the app business.
This is what I call a clue that there's a party going on and you're not invited.
I don't know what to think about all this, but thanks to the JOBS Act this is how the tech economy will go. You won't see a boom until it's busted. You won't see the gold rush until it's over.
At the time of publication, the author was long Microsoft, Apple and Google.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.