1 billion served

One key innovation of the iPhone (and iPod Touch) was the App Store, an online marketplace for 3rd party applications. Today, Apple will reach one billion applications downloaded through the App Store.

This has inspired many people to write applications for the iPhone. This week, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that amateurs are learning how to create applications for the iPhone.

Unfortunately, this shows. So many of the applications are garbage. How many fart and bikini girl applications do we need? Seriously, how many high school boys own iPhones?

As for the serious applications, many are ill-conceived or badly coded. For example, today I tried an application that is supposed to scan a UPC barcode and check prices. I grabbed a few items around my home but it failed to read every barcode. And it was so slow that I could have typed the numbers much, much faster. Granted, much of the problem is due to the limitations in the iPhone’s camera. But why didn’t the developer consider this before taking the time to develop the application?

Other good ideas are ruined with bad implementations. For example, I rely on an electronic grocery list – first for my Treo, now for my iPhone. But most of them for the iPhone force you to use its limited keyboard and menus for data entry. Why do this when you sync your iPhone with a full computer? (Those that realize this suffer from miserable desktop or web applications).

Furthermore, many applications really do not need to be standalone applications – they could be as good or better as pure web applications. However, the economics of the App Store rewards standalone applications, so I don’t expect to see much innovation in terms of iPhone web applications. That’s unfortunate.

I’ve read some iPhone ‘developers’ complain that iPhone applications have such a low selling price. The solution? Produce better applications. Considering the low quality of so many applications, I’m not willing to pay more than a dollar or two for most iPhone applications.

There are a few applications that really make my iPhone much more useful. The remaining 95% of applications are a waste. At least they don’t cost too much.

Meantime, I wish I had a bit more free time to write some Apps myself. I have a few good ideas but no time. Though I worry that only the fart and bikini apps are making real money.

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