This week: Too many apps to get noticed, the expansion of Amazon's in-app purchase, and antifragility in IT.
Apps market reaches saturation; zombie apps predominate
The good news is that the market for paid apps hit $8 billion in 2012, up 27 percent year-on-year. The bad news is that average revenue per app dropped by an identical 27 percent. Half of all app revenue went to the makers of just 25 apps in the App Store and Google Play. TechCrunch's analyst,Rip Empson, muses that "the number of new apps in the world's major app stores has now exceeded the demand for these apps."
A new report claims that the iOS App Store will gain 435,000 new apps in 2013, up from the approximately 380,000 added in 2012. Again, a good-news, bad-news situation: most of those apps will go nowhere, because nobody will see them. The report's author, the ad network adeven, refers to these as "zombie apps," and says that at the end of 2012 they accounted for 64 percent of all the apps in the store, up from 60 percent last June. The best hope for developers seeking increased visibility may be the raft of startups working the app discovery niche.
Devops, complexity, and anti-fragility
You've come across the concept of antifragility, I trust? Nassim Taleb's new book Anti-fragile: Things That Gain From Disorder has been reviewed widely. Writing on GigaOm.com, James Urquhart describes the nut of the concept this way:
Anti-fragility is the opposite of fragility: as Taleb notes, where a fragile package would be stamped with 'do not mishandle,' an anti-fragile package would be stamped 'please mishandle.' Anti-fragile things get better with each (non-fatal) failure.
Urquhart looks at applying the idea of antifragility to the way IT is done, and concludes that devops -- the melding of development with operations -- brings antifragility to IT projects, at least potentially. But Urquhart cautions that neither devops nor antifragility represents a silver bullet. "Given the difference between devops and most 'construction-method' approaches to IT that we see today... I would argue that enterprises should adopt devops and address anti-fragility first by using it for those IT projects that would benefit from continuous change," such as marketing programs.
Amazon in-app purchase for PC, Mac, web games
With in-app purchase for games running on its Android Kindle Fire platform, Amazon had made collecting money inside games as convenient as it has long been in the Apple and Google ecosystems. Now Amazon has extended that convenience to games running on PC and Mac desktops and notebooks, as well as on the web. The PC World article points out that Amazon has not yet revealed publicly how much of a cut it will take for dealing with the messy back-end work of payment processing on these platforms. For Kindle Fire apps, Amazon takes the same 30 percent that Apple and Google have made standard.
Buy a developer phone running Firefox OS
Mozilla is teaming up with Geeksphone (based in Spain) to build and distribute developer preview hardware for Firefox OS. There will be two models: a budget model, called Keon, with the minimum necessary to test apps, and a high-end phone called Peak. Here's Ars Technica's detailed writeup and Mozilla's announcement.
The Friday Four gives a hat tip each week to Ron Miller, whose collection of five links for developers and IT pros runs weekly on Ness.com.