"Android is now the leading smartphone in market share in the United States," noted GetJar's Patrick Mork, beginning today's session at SXSW on the topic of apps vs. the mobile Web. Mork provided other interesting stats about the state of the mobile application industry during this afternoon's talk, including figures like this: there were over 8 billion downloads last year, there will be an estimated 50 billion downloads by 2012 and an estimated $30 billion in revenue by 2015. And there are over 600,000 apps between Apple, Android and GetJar, the large third-party mobile application store where Mork serves as Chief Marketing Officer.
The keynote speech was limited to only 15 minutes, unfortunately, as this is a topic that could be explored for hours. However, Mork made good use of the time, and presented some great slides which mobile developers may find useful. These are embedded below.
Benefits of Apps vs. Web
Speaking about the benefit of mobile apps, Mork said they are always "on," offer deeper engagement than what you get on the Web (although HTML5 is beginning to change this), they can leverage device power features (touchscreen, accelerometer), and, of course, they're viral and "sexy."
But the Web also has advantages too, mainly: reach. There are 140 million devices that run apps, but over a billion that can access the Web. Web apps are also cheaper to develop, easier to distribute and offer instant updates. But the downside is that Web apps generally require connectivity to work, except in the case of the offline caching provided by HTML5.
Strategy Questions for Mobile Developers
When developing for mobile, there are several questions related to strategy that a developer needs to ask, said Mork, like: what is installed base, what OEMs are using this platform, is billing available, what's the ease of distribution (how many app stores are there), how big is the catalog and how many versions of the OS are out there (i.e., fragmentation issues)?
Mork then touched on a few sample cases studies regarding how large companies promote their mobile applications, including Facebook, Fandango and Yahoo.
The slides from Mork's presentation are below - note especially the 8th slide, which has some great stats regarding the current mobile app landscape, including number of apps, number of stores and number of OS versions.