One of the strengths of the iPhone is the now-famous iTunes store, which helps you buy applications/music/movies/TV shows seamlessly. A lot of companies have tried the concept (which is not new) as old as 10-15 years back, for example, Microsoft has tried it multiple times (Zune, Windows Player) in the past. The winning difference has been the flawless execution and the simplicity that Apple has delivered. Apple has managed to satisfy both ends – with their clout they got the big media companies to sign uniform pricing’s and they also made it easy to get the casual developer on-board. The formula from Apple was simple – you make the application, we manage the hosting, delivery, installation, payment gateways, legal/taxation, etc. The developer gets 70%, Apple gets 30% – a neat deal for both parties. And Apple’s new iPhone OS3 is pushing the envelope much further – check out this cool preview of iPhone OS 3 or here on YouTube.
Few months after my purchase of my iPhone, I searched for some applications. I found thousands of applications in their store, but I was looking for something that will be useful for me and not clutter my phone. A phone for me primarily is for Voice, SMS, Camera, email & web browsing (in that order of priority). I was not sure about the number of applications that will be available for India – as so far many of the American companies have avoided dealing with copyright/licensing/taxation trouble for the Indian market. They feel the trouble is not worth the size of the Indian market for these (how wrong they are). Traditionally Indian mobile users have not followed the global trend (and other advanced Asian markets like Korea and Japan) in the purchase of applications, games, music & movies, but that I think is due to content for their taste not being available. Since the iPhone store is one of the biggest USPs of iPhone and buying apps is not popular in India is probably a reason for iPhone being sold only 20,000 units in India since its launch.
In the iPhone store, I found a plethora of apps to be bought for India, there was no shortage – I have tried few iPhone apps and the shopping experience from the phone was seamless. No punching of credit cards (you do that when you create your iTunes account on the web) and no multiple confirmations/redirections/instructions. You click on buy, then install and you are done.
The apps I use regularly are two (both free)- TwitterFon and Skype (recently released). I also bought a Tetris game for $4.99. Regarding the apps, I found TwitterFon to be very convenient to use, I am finding myself twittering more when I am outside the office – waiting for something in a queue or participating like yesterday in a boring session for CIOs by IBM India. About Skype, for iPhone, it is great to note that in India it works over both Wi-Fi and 2G connections. The quality of Skype calls using iPhone is great and the convenience of speaking with a mobile phone any day for me is better than a headset or holding a USB Skype phone.