There’s been a minor flurry of activity in the mobile security space lately. On the vendor side we have McAfee’s acquisitions of tenCube and Trust Digital and Symantec’s investment in Mocana (Symantec’s acquisition of VeriSign’s security business has mobile implications as well). In other developments, we have the new ruling that it’s legal to jailbreak your (i)phone and AT&T’s breach of iPad owners’ personal data, and you can see that the mobile security space is getting interesting.
Many of the vendor moves in this area – including, but beyond, the acquisition and investment activity mentioned above – are merely extending anti-malware to the smartphone. We’re still in the early days for mobile malware, and it’s premature to expect much traction by providing malware protection on the smartphone (as I blogged about here).
Apple reinvented the distribution of products and services on mobile phones, opening up direct-to-consumer opportunities for nontelecom companies. The numbers look impressive — more than 5 billion downloads and $1 billion paid to developers in the two years since the launch of the Apple App Store.
However, it also generated $429 million for Apple itself in two years. These revenues are not meaningful to Apple’s core revenues. Due to the limited number of paid apps and their significant concentration among games and navigation apps, it is likely that a significant number of independent developers have not recouped their investments via the current revenue-sharing model. The recent launch of iAd is a way for Apple to maintain the attractiveness of its platform, allowing third parties that provide free apps to develop sustainable business models.
But, despite all the hype around apps, only a minority of consumers download them monthly. A recent Forrester survey of more than 25,000 European adults shows that only 4% of all mobile users and 15% of smartphone users report downloading apps at least once per month. However, the fact that 21% of all European mobile users consider apps to be an important feature when choosing a new mobile handset highlights the large gap between today’s limited usage of apps and consumer awareness and interest.
The application store market is still nascent, but it is evolving quickly. However, in the longer run, few players will be able to address the key factors that will make them a success:
One of the significant shifts in consumer mobile behavior identifed by Forrester in the past two years has been the increase in use of the Internet on mobile phones. The growth has been staggering -- consumers don't typically shift their behavior this quickly. One of the reasons has been growth in the number of smartphones we own and use. Great user experiences delivered by great user interfaces on phones and fast networks have been part of that smartphone upgrade as well. The AdMob data shows that smartphones generate 46% of its ad requests.
Download the report for a deep dive. Look for the growth in the number of countries where individuals are using their cell phones to access the Internet. We've also seen a new category emerge - "Mobile Internet Devices." See its breakdown of iPad ad requests. The US generates 58%, with Japan second at 5%.