There are numerous statistics on the growth of mobile apps in the various stores, and also about the number of downloads. Apple claims over 500,000 apps in its store and Google claims over 450,000 (this time last year it had only 150,000). The number of apps, downloads and rate of growth is phenomenal.
Is this just a temporary fever or will this growth continue, and if so what will drive it? I believe this growth has only just started and that there are two key trends that will drive this growth further.
Firstly, development for smartphones will get simpler. A recent survey profiles over a hundred development tools for creating mobile apps. My guess is that is a very conservative estimate of the actual number of tools out there.
A common goal for many of these providers is to make programming simpler so that more people can code. For some, this goes further, to the extent that tools are being created for children to develop apps at school. So more developers will mean more apps!
Secondly and this for me is the more exciting aspect, is that phones will do more, which means that apps will get more innovative.
Today there are a wide variety of apps already, some of which use features of the phone itself like the camera, GPS or microphone. Coming down the line are many more features that will get embedded into phones, for example the ability to detect a user emotions and the ability to monitor a users health. Such features will drive yet more applications and innovations from personal healthcare to fraud detection.
Apart from new features, phones will start interact with other devices such as your TV. At a simple level, your smartphone can be already be used as a remote control for your TV or to join in with live TV quiz shows. Already phones are interacting with cars, and this integration will inevitably go further, so that your engine management system feeds your phone with data that an app can use.
Recent surveys from recruitment agencies highlight the growing demand for mobile developers, and more interestingly the re-skilling of developers to position themselves for this growth. Exciting times are ahead for developers and entrepreneurs who will show that Angry Birds isn’t the only way to make big money in mobile.