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IPhone -Worst iPhone Apps: A 2008 Retrospective from Ovum

December 22, 2008

Worst iPhone Apps: A 2008 Retrospective from Ovum

By Michael Dinan
TMCnet Editor
Admittedly, when TMCnet columnist David Sims reported on an application for the Google (News - Alert) Android phone that tracked flu and cold risk, many of us here smiled and shook our heads.

Since the launch of the iTunes App Store for the iPhone (News - Alert), and similar “shops” for BlackBerrys and other mobile phones, it seemed developers had thought of everything – even an app that provides information about a song’s name, artist and album when held up to a speaker playing music, as TMC President Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) demonstrates in a video here.
So it wasn’t totally shocking when the cold-and-flu app turned up on an undesirable list from London-based IT research firm Ovum.
According to the firm’s senior analyst, Steven Hartley, the app makes the infamous “Wireless Christmas Turkeys” list for its pointlessness.
“Nominations ranged from novelty items (the Sat Nag, an in-car driving instruction parody) through to the serious (an application measuring cold and flu risk),” Hartley says. “They also ranged from the cute (as the Chumby was eloquently described) to the seedy (a remote controlled USB ‘self help’ tool – in the broadest sense).”
Ultimately, Hartley says, what the range of nominations says is that, despite worries for 2009, the mobile sector’s growth remains attractive to entrepreneurs.
“The ideas might not always be the best or most well executed, but at least the mobile sector continues to be seen as an attractive revenue generator to those at its periphery,” Hartley says.
Not all apps are useless, of course.
As TMCnet reported today, some tekkies like the iPhone so much that they’re encouraging Apple to put out a line of smaller, less expensive versions.
One handy new application for such a version could be one that’s designed to make it easier for iPhone and iPod Touch users to call, text, IM, mail and use social networking sites on-the-go.
Officials at Pinger say their so-called “Pinger Phone” app – available here  – creates a simple interface that integrates popular social networking tools such as Facebook, MySpace (News - Alert) and Twitter from a single menu.
According to Pinger’s chief executive officer, Greg Woock (News - Alert), if people under 25 designed mobile phones, they’d put IM and social network messaging alongside dialing, texting and mail.
“With more than 30 billion messages sent on IM and social networks every day, it’s about time someone deeply integrated them into the basic mobile phone experience,” Woock said.
Yet some other applications are far less desirable.
Hartley’s iPhone application that gained notoriety over the summer, called “I am Rich,” was initially available on the iPhone application store, although later removed. At a cost of $999.99 (the highest possible price for an application) purchasers received no more than an icon on their iPhone stating “I am Rich,” which when activated launched an animated, shining gem.
“The application was actually purchased by eight people – hardly value for money!” Hartley says.
Yet it also highlights some interesting issues, the analyst says. First, Apple has gone to great lengths to promote its third-party developer community, but ultimately the company is solely responsible for the quality of applications appearing on its store.
The application “I am Rich” might not be malware in a technical sense, but it damages Apple’s credibility and quality control processes, Hartley says.
Also, in speaking to developers for Ovum’s upcoming research on mobile application stores, it reportedly became clear that Apple’s opaque approval process for applications to appear on its App Store is deterring developers from creating applications for the platform.
“Some developers are reluctant to invest to their full potential if the fruit of their labors could be stopped without explanation,” Hartley said. “Conversely, if applications such as ‘I am Rich’ slip through the net, users are left having to wade through a sea of mediocrity to find truly useful applications.”

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael´┐Żs articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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