Apps are the next medium

In recent months, App Store “apps” have continued to explode in popularity. iOS apps are currently being downloaded at twice the rate of digital music tracks from the iTunes store, with the average iOS user downloading five new apps per month. App developers have received $2 billion in revenue over the first 31 months (and that does not include ad revenue).

Horace Dediu recently made the important point that not only are apps here to stay, they are the next important medium. Apple designed iOS such that apps take over the whole device, each one “magically” transforming it into an object with a whole new set of capabilities. The device becomes a map or a compass or a video camera or a textbook or a game or a credit card or a newspaper or a radio or any new combination thereof. This new medium can be used for both art and productivity; charity and industry; form and function. It is not a fad. It is rather the logical next step for human-facing software.

Like music and movies, apps can be bought and sold as if they’re objects. The iTunes store already sells more music than any other physical or online retailer. The App Store is poised to become the de facto provider of consumer device functionality.

As this medium gains traction and more artisans learn how to create apps, I think we will find that we’ve only just scratched the surface of what is possible.

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