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Cry me an app store?

First off, thanks to Zi Yong for sharing these articles. Go read iPhone devotion blinds Silicon Valley app developers » VentureBeat and then this response from a developer.

I fully concur with that response. Developers choose to develop for the iPhone for a number of reasons. You need to look deeper than mere numbers to explain that.

Yes, Nokia’s Ovi Store is projected to reach 400 million handsets by the end of 2010. But how fragmented in that base really? If you’re on the App Store, you develop for one standard baseline and know you will reach all iPhones and iPod Touches. Just like the iPhone OS updates, I’d expect all old and new apps to work on the next generation iPhone as well. Right now, you can’t say the same for the Ovi Store. The same is probably true of Windows Mobile as well.

And staying on the topic of numbers:

While Nokia led worldwide ad requests, with a 43 percent share, the iPhone wasn’t far behind, with a 32 percent worldwide share.

Considering Nokia’s worldwide market share, the lead it has over the iPhone is much lesser than what you would expect. The fact that the iPhone is just over 10 percentage points behind is astonishing.

Also, the fact that iPhone developers are “one to three person companies” is a great indication of how Apple has shaken up things. Mobile development wasn’t as easy and painless before (primarily because no one bothered). Yes, there are issues to iron out in the App Store (approval and refund policies etc…) but those are besides the point. Apple has watched and learnt how to create a great ecosystem, and they are making very few mistakes.

Apple was always about very tight integration between hardware and software. That may not be necessary to succeed in the laptops or desktops space, but it’s definitely way more important when it comes to mobile devices. How many times have we read a review that the software is great, but the hardware sucks? Even the G1 had a couple of those.

From the very beginning, iPhone ads have always been about applications, not tech features. The App Store is promoted as a great strength of the iPhone. Other companies - Microsoft, Nokia, RIM - are only beginning to do that. Are they going to challenge the App Store? Right now I don’t see it. They’re still playing catch up, and two of those haven’t even launched yet.

Android and Palm (with the WebOS) perhaps stand a better chance of getting things right here. The platforms are relatively nascent and they can avoid the mistakes that others have made. However, Palm one ups Google here since they, like Apple, seem to understand that tight integration between hardware and software is necessary to make a truly great device, which is one of the first steps to creating a great platform.

But as it stands now, developers aren’t blind to other platforms. Instead, They just choose to develop for the iPhone. And that’ll continue to happen until the others get their houses in order.