4 reasons I'm excited about the SF AppShow

I’m extra excited about our next SF AppShow this Tuesday May 25. In addition to looking forward to seeing you all and taking the stage again, here are the top four things I’m excited about:

  1. Our amazing guest host is my friend Gina Smith. Before I’d met her in person, I used to watch her on Good Morning America and World News Tonight. She was ABC News first Tech Correspondent, and covered the web 1.0 boom for them. She’s also the author (with Steve Wozniak) of NYT bestseller iWOZ: From Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-founded Apple and Had Fun Along the Way.
  2. Another friend is presenting: Mike Smithwick. He started writing Distant Suns for the Amiga in 1985, and I first met him during my days as an Amiga engineer. More than 25 years later and Distant Suns is still going strong, and he has new announcements to make Tuesday night. It was a great coincidence that he applied to the show without even realizing I was involved.
  3. The wraps are finally coming off the secret new project from best-selling author Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, Quicksilver, Cryptonomicon, Anathem) and my friend Jeremy Bornstein at Subutai Corporation.
  4. It’s cool that we have custom iPad bags from Rickshaw Bag Works, and that we have Intel as a sponsor, as well as SugarSync and Appency PR, and a lineup of other great media, presenters and guests.

Please grab a ticket and join us for cocktails and appetizers starting at 5:30pm!

Best iPhone Twitter app comes down to Tweetie vs. Twittelator Pro

Tweetie screenshot main page

Tweetie screenshot main page

Gizmodo’s new comprehensive review of iPhone apps evaluated many more than I did (“ten zillion”), but matches my own experience. We both narrow it down to Tweetie vs. Twittelator Pro.

I’ve been switching back and forth between the two for the last month or two. Either is a great app with the edge for smoothness going to Tweetie (which also seems to display more tweets on the page). The edge for pure power goes to Twittelator Pro.

Twittelator Pro screenshot main page

Twittelator has a great feature I wish was included in other iPhone apps:  a button to scroll down a whole page at a time. This is especially useful in catching up with a long list of tweets. This is the only app I’ve seen with this functionality, so it’s a nice innovation.

The other power feature I make use of in Twittelator is the ability to define my own saved searches.

I can’t think of anything in Tweetie that Twittelator doesn’t do (well, there are fart noises and the flashlight if you enable the Popularity Enhancer).

Despite all that, my current swing is in favor of Tweetie, though I still switch it up. Which do you prefer?

Apps are the new Singles: Betting on AppStore Revenue

Steve Jobs still hasn’t announced the App Store for Mac.

Referring to the iPhone App Store, analyst Gene Munster at Piper Jaffray estimates that Apple’s App Store could emerge as $1.2B business by 2009. Is that too low? Focusing on revenue per user, his most aggressive estimate looks conservative to me.

Look out, because the App is the new Single.

The apps that have already been shown (and those yet to be developed) are cool. People will want to try many of them before settling on the ones they continue to use. Good thing it will be easy to discover, purchase and install them. $15 in average app revenue per phone seems paltry, even if 70% of iPhone apps are free.

I think analysts missed it with their first estimates for iTunes revenues, too. They had to keeping upping them for years.

It wasn’t obvious from what was happening at the time in the digital music marketplace how ready the public was to buy from a store (and for a device) that got all the pieces right. You needed to talk to consumers in depth to look past business as usual and understand their unmet needs.

iTunes and iPod are literally the text book example of how user experience as strategy changed an industry in ways the number crunching business analysts couldn’t predict.

In the same way, there are thousands of fantastic uses for mobile technology which no one has been able to discover, develop and sell because the platform for it hasn’t been there. From the developer side, there are too many crippling limitations to development and barriers to sales. For consumers, the devices aren’t easy to use to start with, but finding, paying for and installing is a nightmare on more levels than Dante could describe.

iPhone and its AppStore are game changing because they directly address the total user experience for new mobile applications. This is a bigger change for mobile applications than iTunes was for music.

I remember the days when you bought (or copied) stacks of applications for your computer. There are many reasons we don’t still do that. So we don’t think of wanting to buy lots of small applications. Just as we didn’t used to think of buying lots of music as single songs. App Store might make you think differently. You’ll buy lots of these new singles.

I’m be willing to bet on a significantly higher figure for App Store per user average revenue in 2009. Any takers?

UPDATES
16-Jun-08:
San Jose Mercury News ran a great article by John Bourdreau today about the iPhone economy as Application developers swarm to iPhone with many good quotes and stats.

17-Jun-08:
In response to Forbes IPhone Apps Appeal, which raises many issues about usability, security and quality:

Not every release has to be a hit. User ratings and reviews like in iTunes will make it easier to discover the best apps that enhance the iPhone experience, and avoid those that need improvement. The ease with which they can be found, purchased and installed will make it painless to try several and discard any that you don’t automatically hum along with.

The best will become hits, driven by ratings, blog posts, status messages and more — no payola required (though it still has a leveraging effect to make hits even bigger).

This is a dramatic change. For the first time mobile has a viable ecosystem for new applications.

I predict that more revolution will come to the mobile industry (and to how mobile technology impacts people’s lives) through the App Store than came from the introduction of the iPhone itself.

In response to Apps First to Market will win?:
I think apps will work more like music singles. First to market in a given genre will not be an overwhelming advantage. In fact, releases will be inspired by each other and build on each other. There will be no stigma to having a new favorite next week. Ratings from other listeners, as well as what your friends are listening to, reviewers are writing about, etc., will help you decide what to tune in to.

12-Sep-08
iPhone Apps Store Growing Twice as Fast as iTunes Music

Jobs announces Mac App Store?

At MacWorld in January, Jobs had announced iPhone AppStore, movie rental for iTunes and then the MacBook Air. He went on to explain how the Air didn’t need many ports or a DVD drive because you could do everything over the network, even watching movies.

I felt sure I knew what “and one more thing” would be.

Instead, he ended that keynote without “one more thing.”

Will he announce it in his keynote this time at the Apple WWDC Monday?

The one thing you can’t still do with an Air without a DVD drive somewhere is to install most commercial applications. I need to do that on my Air just like I need to do it on my iPhone.

A perfect “and one more thing” would be to announce that iTunes would support application sales for Mac and Windows.

iTunes struck compromises that revolutionized the business of promoting, distributing and selling music. It wasn’t perfect, but it solved enough of the problems of labels, artists and listeners to build with iPod into a perfect storm. It could do the same for applications.

  • iTunes made it easy to find all the music you want in one place.
  • Made it easy to buy, even at $.99 price point — owning a song is just a click away.
  • With iTunes Digital Rights Management (DRM), you could share, but only so far, and you could authorize and de-authorize computers as needed.

This sounds like what I need with my software applications. A way to get them all from one place, instantly, easy to buy at any pricepoint, and no hassles figuring out what computers I’m allowed to use them on.

Likewise, publishers of smaller applications have difficulties marketing and collecting relatively small payments. Larger applications will have problems distributing their wares if Air starts a trend to more diskless machines. Both have issues of wanting to protect their software against unauthorized copying, and the kind of universal system and compromises in iTunes could work with software.

Can I rent software like I can rent a movie? It may not make sense when a single publisher tries to do it, but if it were supported universally from one interface, perhaps there are applications that I only need for a week at a time.

What about software in the cloud? Many web apps can only monitize themselves through ad-supported models. What if I could pay $.99 and up (one time or monthly) for Software as a Service? I’d use iTunes to find and rate apps, the iTunes payment system to start an account, and to manage my subscriptions.

Would you like to buy and sell software over the air? Would iTunes/App Store make a good model?

UPDATE 12-Jun-08: Apps are the New Singles: Betting on AppStore Revenue.