Along with the news that Apple sold a million iPhone 3Gs in its opening weekend came the announcement that 10 million applications were downloaded for the iPhone 2.0 software, which runs on older iPhones and iPod touches.
I had agreed with the spirit if not the letter of this Gizmodo post. in that the app store — which will also run on the original iPhone and the iPod touch — is in many ways the biggest difference between the iPhone 3G and earlier versions. However, 3G is an important enabler for many of these applications.
I’d love to hear what the distribution of those platforms were and how many were downloaded off of Wi-Fi as opposed to 3G or EDGE. And of course, how many were free as opposed to paid downloads. Outside of games, it’s still going to be difficult to drive sales of applications simply because the monetization of software has shifted so much in the past few years. But games for the iPhone are an interesting development opportunity, not so much because the iPhone competes with, say, a PSP, but because it does offer console-like platform stability, at least for now.
In any case, the 10 million number — an order of magnitude over the hardware sold during the weekend — is a testament to the appeal of these applications, their overall quality and variety. And a lesson to the whole industry that you can drive consumer interest in native smartphone applications and move the industry past the Java/BREW level of lowest common denominator development. On the other hand, Apple is far more incentivized to drive the platform given the revenue share for paid downloads and no carrier revenue sharing.
One number we’re perhaps more likely to get from Apple is the percentage of OS X iPhone developers who are knew to the platform. It seems to be significant. Last week I met with one of the launch developers new to OS X who was raving about Apple’s developer tools and downplaying limitations, saying what the SDK buys you is worth the limitations (and this is a developer whose application would definitely benefit from background processing.) That said, he acknowledged that the Windows Mobile tools are also pretty good.