As we head into the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Apple has circulated a press release announcing that 40 billion apps have now been downloaded, with almost half of those downloads during 2012. (Note that that figure consists of unique downloads and excludes updates and redownloads.) In addition, Apple's announcement said that there are now over 775,000 apps in the App Store, and that developers have earned over $7 billion on their apps. As remarkable as these figures are, apps still constitute a tiny tiny fraction of Apple's revenue.
Apple has certainly led the way in creating a useable smartphone and an app ecosystem to augment the platform. The press release discusses the experience of several developers who've made as much as $100 million for their apps. According to an article on CNET, Apple's App Store growth is accelerating, and this acceleration in app downloads is expected to continue throughout 2013. The article cites a research firm that has predicted that app dowloads on iOS and Android combined will be 1 billion per week up to the fourth quarter, when it will begin to average 2 billion per week.
I think these predictions are right on the mark, and I predict that 2013 will be the Year of the App, as apps become increasingly common on a wide range of devices: watches, TV set-top boxes, glasses, automobiles. Pebble watch is expected to hold a press conference at CES tomorrow announcing when its watch will be available. The company's watch, which runs apps and communicates with smartphones via Bluetooth, has generated so much interest that they raised $10 million in their Kickstarter campaign last year, with tens of thousands of contributors paying at least $99 to receive one of the watches when they become available. Venture capitalists noticed.
At CES this week I'm sure we'll be seeing many apps for devices, especially cars. Developers are increasingly tailoring their apps for platforms such as Ford's Sync AppLink. For example, a route-sharing app by Glympse has been announced for use with Sync AppLink. It lets drivers send their current location, destination, and route through Facebook, Twitter, or other Internet outlets.
CES will likely also feature an increasing number of wearable devices. A recent article in Forbes argues that Apple should dump the iPhone in favor of iWear — smart devices that one wears. Apple has the apps, it has the creativity, so it's time for it to expand this app environment to other devices. In fact, it's past time. They need to do it now, with an iWatch and an iTV first, and then glasses and cars.