Apparently the iPhone isn’t the big cheese everywhere. In Europe, for example.
A surprising number of developers there don’t believe it’s that big a deal, regardless of the hype it gets in Silicon Valley.
The best argument for why they should wake up to the new reality goes like this: 1) developer support is rational, not emotional, and 2) that (insert any mobile company here) has a chance to match the iPhone’s success.
I have companies tell me every week that even though they’ve only attracted five percent of iPhone users, these users represent 30 to 70 percent of their total user base. That looks excellent on the Excel balance sheets that startups show their investors. As a developer, you’ll find acceptance if there’s a device and ecosystem driving business as much as the iPhone does. These people could care less about how pretty the touchscreen is — it’s all about how it affects their business.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, the world’s largest mobile conference, I talked to representatives of six carriers. Two of them questioned whether iPhone apps have a large impact on device sales. Analyst Ewan McLeod nailed one major rationale for it:
There’s only so much you can do when you’re sat in a dark office in London waiting for the ‘your app has been accepted’ email from Apple. Compare that to one panelist’s throwaway comment, “We’re really tight with the Apple guys.” And tight is good. Tight is the way ahead. Almost every chap I met has a friend-of-a-friend who works at Apple. Or knows a ‘guy’ at Google. Or whose dorm mate knocked out a $10K/day Chess app for the iPhone.
Around 20,000 developers somehow connected to the Apple App Store today. And most of these guys don’t have prior mobile industry experience. According to my sources, most of these developers are found around the Valley, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York. Only a small percentage of them seem to hail from outside the U.S. So it makes sense that the iPhone craze has been characterized as a distinctly American trend.
That being said, I think the divide extends even further. Those in the internet and mobile industries don’t mingle much outside the Valley. Also, mobile developers don’t generally attend industry conferences. So carriers, network companies and device makers rarely if ever meet these 20,000 people. They don’t attend the MWCs and the CTIAs, even though industry folks always expect mobile developers to show up. When asked why they don’t attend these events, one developer’s answer stood out: It doesn’t bring them any closer to the Apple App Store.
But, again, it seems like that news hasn’t found its way out of the Valley yet.