Mobile Apps: The Wave of the Past1
Mobile today is like the Internet in the 1990s, with relatively slow connections and limited browser capability. Just like the PC Web, improvements in mobile Web will bring down today's walled gardens. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is not AOL but still has much to lose.
I have an iPhone 4 and I love it. I love apps, and I love the app store. Apps simply deliver an experience you can't get on the mobile Web. But this love is not meant to last.
It's understandable why many believe that apps are here to stay. Reportedly, 6.5 billion apps were downloaded from iTunes; that's 54 for every iPhone. The trend line is steeply upward, but I think the runaway success of mobile apps is because they fill a temporary void, and the use of mobile apps will decline.
MOBILE PAST–RIM MISSES THE NEED FOR APPS
To understand why, let's look at the past. Mobile apps have been necessary and viable since the first Blackberry. While Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) should have won the battle of the app, they missed the opportunity.
I cofounded a company call iTendant in 2000, acquired by Servidyne (NASDAQ: SERV) in 2004. We built a Web and mobile software as a service (SaaS) platform (although we did not call it SaaS back then) to manage service and maintenance in hotels and office buildings. For many reasons (although there was a mobile Web), it would not work for our purposes. So we wrote applications for the Blackberry as the mobile component.
Initially, we had no ...