Saturday, July 19, 2008

Is the iPhone the new Wii?

When Android and later Apple announced they are going to allow developers to build software for their devices the tech world was touting how location based tracking apps, and social networking on mobile were going to be all the rage. The first couple of days the AppStore launch that notion held true as apps such as Facebook, mySpace, and Google Mobile were in the top 10 downloads. However, if you look at the top 10 free apps on the appStore now the store is completely different. You have apps such as: Tap Tap Revenge, Phone Saber, Break, Apple Remote, and Break within the top 5.

In my opinion, there may be a few reasons for this phenomenon:
a) The browser on the iPhone is so good that the difference between native apps built by Facebook and the browser based app is minimal so people are sticking with the approach they are used to for accessing sites such as Facebook.

b) People are creeped out by services that track their location and publish it on sites even if it is secured only to their friends. I think this is perfectly legitimate as users are more and more concerned about their privacy. There needs to be significant value add for end users to give up their final bits of private information.

c) We have taken things a bit too far with social networking and forgot a phone call can still be made with a cell phone. This may be the reality a year or two down the line, for example I barely use my work phone anymore since Chat can be used for realtime communication. However, people still use their cell phone to set up get togethers, find out about restaurants, etc.

d) Individuals aren't all about being online. Sometimes they want to just chill and have a bit of alone time. People use their phone enough to call people, or check e-mail and now the games/music apps give people a chance to break away from being connected. The games are so simple that anyone can play them (a la the Wii) and they give people a good respite.

So what's next. Either I am completely off base and as more and more people grab iPhones the pendulum shifts back in the direction of social networking becoming the dominant apps on the platform or we see a shift in understanding on what people want from their phones going forward.

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