Apple's iPhone App Store, as long expected, passed the 100,000 app mark today. Apple has been counting down the milestones since the store opened, last mentioning 85,000 in a conference call last month. There are some interesting trends developing, however, that put that number into perspective.
First of all, most apps aren't the wild successes that you've heard stories about. In fact, according to a recent study, if you are not in the top 1000 (or 1%) apps, you aren't going to be installed on more than 1.67% of iPhones and iPods. That same study said that only 20% of all apps ever get more than a few downloads.
Another recent phenomenon has been running up the App Store count. Books are turning into Apps. This isn't like the Kindle App which can read many books in the one reader app or purchase books in-app. Companies like Scrollmotion have engines that turn a lot of recent book releases into seperate, individual apps with little effort.
It isn't just first run books, however. Companies are taking books in the open domain and building apps around them. There are probably 10 $.99 War and Peace apps in the store.
Same goes for most classics. How about Sun Tzu's Art of War? Over 30 apps for one book title.
This free book to cheap app model probably accounts for thousands of "apps".
Finally, all of this belies the ultimate irony for Apple. For decades, they've been struggling with their Mac platform because most app(lication)s are written for PC first. Then, sometimes they are written for Mac, sometimes they aren't (and they are also crippled like Microsoft Office). This has traditionally been the major barrier to entry for prospective Mac customers who've gone to Windows.
Apple would try to convince people that it wsn't the quanity of applications but the quality, and that native Mac Applications were better.
Over the past five years, the Web and a host of other factors have tempered that trend, but it still exists -especially in the corporate world.
Now, Apple is king of the apps in the smartphone realm and spouts their total at every opportunity. Perhaps they are making up for years of app-envy?