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Dev: Pros and Cons of the Mac AppStore

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The rabid success of iPhone development and the mobile app store led to the inevitable question: what if they did the same thing, but bigger? The result is one of those ideas that looks obvious in hindsight but for some reason, only Apple tends to find them – The Mac App Store. For the unfamiliar, it's exactly what you're thinking. The Mac App Store will sell applications for the desktop organized through a single storefront. Given that the storefront was so popular on the handhelds, it stands to reason that it will only bring good things to the desktop, right? The answer is... maybe. There are ups and downs for everyone involved, and the store will undoubtedly change OS X development in the future.
First, let's talk about the ups because positivity is better for your health. The most powerful benefits are the most obvious. With the Mac App Store, consumers will have a better experience than with any avenue that currently exists. Customers can try software before committing to a purchase, and they won't have to worry about installation or updating procedures. The uniform delivery ensures that anyone will be able to utilize any software, provided they have minimal knowledge of a mouse's operation and a somewhat healthy bank account.
The App Store will benefit developers as well. By submitting and selling through the App Store, you're effectively unloading all the distribution and sales costs right onto Apple's infrastructure. The App Store will allow you to bypass the headaches of distribution, packaging, and building a secure billing system, which saves you not only time but a hefty chunk of money. Even if you're already in the digital distribution market, you'll no longer have to worry about issuing serial numbers or ensuring that you have hosting beefy enough to survive a sales rush. Of course, this is little incentive to you if you've already invested in such things, but it will at least defer the cost of growth.
Sounds like all sunshine and roses so far, but there are downsides. Working through the App Store trades away almost all flexibility when it comes to doing business. For instance, say you released one version of your software, and wanted to give your existing customers a discount on the next version. This would be easy enough if you maintained your own billing records, but working through the App Store makes the logistics of this much more complicated. Additionally, there's currently no way to provide bulk discounts for large sales of licenses – something that may prevent the App Store from gaining any real traction in the business software world or Mac development in Atlanta.
Of course, the biggest downside is the healthy cut that Apple skims from every transaction. For all the money the App Store can save, it'll be up to the individual businesses to determine whether 30% of all sales is generous or generous theft. The marketing and buying experience is locked down as well. While this is great for the customer, it does limit your options in trying to drive customers to a purchase. You can market the hell out of your application, but once a customer lands on the App Store page, your control over their experience is more restricted than it would be on your own website. That said, most developers are extremely excited for the App Store. As said before, if it can work on the handheld, why can't it work on the desktop?

Dev: High Loyalty, Looming Business

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Recent surveys reveal great news for iOS development. The first is a broad indication of platform health: iPhone owners are the most loyal out of any mobile platform. The Global Smartphone Study 2010, conducted by mobile analytics firm Zokem, sampled 1,500 smartphone users in the US and found that the iPhone leads consumer loyalty at 73%. Google Android ranked second in the survey with a loyalty rating of 40%.
“The figures suggest clearly that iPhone is the top performing platform in terms of user loyalty, and therefore, it is an increasingly likely pick for a repurchase,” Zokem CEO Dr. Hannu Verkasalo said. “Android is a good number two in the US market, even though the loyalty score is not nearly as high as it is for iPhones, but it seems that people who are using Android are also very likely to buy an Android-based device as their next smartphone too.”
As you might expect with a high loyalty rating, the study also found that the churn rate (percent of owners that intend to switch platforms in the next 12 months) for iPhones is the lowest. At 29%, iPhone yet again tops Google Android at 44%. Overall, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry produced respectable loyalty numbers, while Nokia and Palm didn't fare so well. This is attributed to limited app compatibility, a lack of carrier options, and overall low adoption.
A second survey conducted by Kelton Research for Sybase, Inc. found that 2011 will see a huge push from IT managers for mobile application support. The survey reached out to 250 IT managers from the US and the UK and found the overwhelming majority – 90% – are planning to introduce new mobile applications this year. What's more surprising, 21% of respondents are planning to introduce 20 or more mobile business applications. 56% surveyed think that reaching company information from mobile platforms is an important part of doing business. The push factors behind mobile adoption are mostly predictable: 63% plan to implement mobile apps to save costs, 51% to enhance productivity, and a surprising 50% of IT managers report that employee demand is driving adoption.
“The proliferation of new devices, coupled with the vast expansion of mobile applications used by consumers has paved the road for mobility solutions to enter the enterprise at the worker, workgroup, and workflow levels,” Sybase Product Marketing Senior Director Dan Ortega said. “Given all this, we expect 2011 to be the year of the transformation of the enterprise. As evidenced by this survey, IT managers will be faced with greater complexities and requirements across the entire enterprise mobility framework, which is where a leading mobile solutions provider like Sybase can take an entire industry to the next level.”
Since the rise of the App Store and its impact on iPhone development Atlanta, many have salivated over the business implications of the technology. It looks like 2011 may be the year all those fevered dreams finally see the light of day. As evidenced by the surveys, iPhone users aren't going anywhere any time soon, and there's already booming demand for business applications. From the sounds of it, these aren't one-off business applications either. With several IT managers looking at 20 or more applications, there's a need right now for a full-featured mobile business suite, which means lots of iPhone development and iPad development for the iOS developers that can strike while the iron is hot. You may want to start brushing up on enterprise resource software and mobile integration, because there's loads of work just around the corner.

Apps: iCards HTML 1.2 Released

A new version of iCards HTML has been released. It includes lots of enhancements and improvements:

- Birthday Cards.
- More custom text areas.
- HTML rendering improvements and optimizations.
- UI Improvements.



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