iPhone

Only two percent of iPhone apps categorized for business

Just over 2 percent of iPhone and iPod touch apps are listed under the App Store's Business category. But are there more, hidden business apps?

AppShopper, a Web site which tracks iPhone and iPod Touch applications, has noted that Apple's App Store has surpassed 100,000 approved apps, although just over 93,000 are available. This revelation and the raging debate over the iPhone's usefulness as a business device, got me thinking about just how many "business" apps were available in the App store.

Apple App Store Business application category

After a little browsing and some quick math, it seems that as of this writing there are just over 2100 apps categorized as "Business" in the App Store. I arrived at this number by selecting the Business category from iTunes' App Store drop-down menu, counting the number of apps displayed on the page (20), and multiplying that by the number of pages withing the Business category (109). 20 * 109 = 2180. If we take our total of 2180 and divide it by 100,000, we get 2.18 percent.

Now, I know this number is a very, very rough estimate. It's likely that the last page of the Business category actually has fewer than 20 apps listed on it. It's also much more likely that not all apps used for business are categorized under Business in the App Store. For example, the Facebook app is listed under the App Store's Social Networking category, but I would argue that a great many people actually use Facebook for business. The same can be said for a great many other apps, such as the navigation utilities, time management apps, email tools, and more

But even if my 2 percent count is off by even two, three, or even four times, the App Store's relatively anemic business offering only strengthens the argument of those IT pros who decry the iPhone as a glorified MP3 player and not a true enterprise mobile device.

"It's a toy, you either don't really conduct [business] or you are [fooling yourself], and perhaps your boss into thinking it's a business device for adults." wrote Oz_Media in a recent discussion thread on the iPhone being used as a business device.

In response to Oz_Media and other TechRepublic members' calls for examples of iPhone business apps, Eric Confer put together the following list:

"Simple tools:

SAFARI - There is no comparison of the mobile web browsing tool (Safari) to any other handheld, if you need to do research on the fly, and we all do it, this is by far the best available.

MAPS - I travel, and having a detailed map that also uses pictures of your destination in your pocket helps a lot.

MAIL - Sync to any email server besides dedicated servers (ie. Blackberry server, way to pigeon hold yourself for years anyway, that's thinking).

9-TOOLBOX - Free and really useful. Helps to calculate currency, dates, days until, amortization as well, and even holiday dates each year, then it can convert from metrics to imperial ot the reverse - awfully useful in the field.

DICTIONARY.COM app - try not to sound stupid if possible.

LANGUAGE LEARNING APPS - AccelaStudy or 24/7 Tutor are great tutors of over 20 languages, and the CoDesign Translator app is helpful as well (I deal with International Sales as well).

CISCO WEB EX - Participate in a meeting on the fly.

GRAPHING CALCULATOR - For the serious math-ers.

SPECIALIZED APPLICATIONS:

BLOOMBERG - There is no better financial application except maybe E-Trade Mobile Pro (which I also use but you need an investment account to fully realize the power).

THE WEATHER CHANNEL - The iPhone app is superior to any other handhelds ability for this application.

USA TODAY - we all know what this is, if you travel at all this keeps you in touch.

myWIRELESS - Billing on your phone, with detailed PDFs and all.

AUDIOBOOKS - for free, build some knowledge or relax.

HOWCAST - learn how to do just about anything, on the fly. Get an understanding for how things work.

BUMP - Exchange and archive contact information in seconds without manually typing a thing.

WEB MD - Excellent way to diagnose issues or resolve them in case of an emergency.

AROUNDME - a quick guide to everything around you (walking distance or short car ride) from food, shopping, taxis, movies, hotels, banks/atms, hospitals, pharmacies parking, and the grocery store.

JOBS - Find a new job, you may need it if you really think your BlackBerry is better at any of this stuff. Includes the Ladders service for $100k+ jobs, search locally or nationally, haven't tried internationally yet.

SOCIAL NETWORKING - Sure you don't need an application for this, but here you are reading this reply thread like you DON'T socially network...hmmm...Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter - leave the MySpace for the kids.

TRAPSTER - Mobile Speed Trap detector, user based, excellent for traveling by car to visit a customer or if you have a rental in a city you're not familiar with.

PIC2SHOP - Take a photo of a barcode and get pricing from other business' near you in seconds, if you're in small purchasing this is very useful.

REPAIR PAL - if you're broken down, fix it yourself or find local average rates and a repair center near you - sure, it doesn't seem useful until you really need it.

TN5250 - If you run the JD Edwards data management system (which is horrible but widely used) this app connects you to it anywhere. Need to look into a previous/current order? Check inventory on the fly? Cost analysis? How about a customers shipping or remit-to address? It's all in your pocket.

Premium Applications:

Mobile Office - Word, Excel, PPT, etc., excellent for presenting material or modifying it when you forgot the "official" copy.

And Lastly:

ENTERTAINMENT - I travel quite a bit so this comes in handy more often than most people besides your kids.

iPod Mode - Movies, videos, music, and podcasts; great ways to kill time on a flight to China or waiting in the Madrid airport.

TV.COM - CBS App, shows, movies, Tech news too!

Zynga - Online poker

TuneWiki - 5,000 free radio stations

BabelGum - Video Entertainment"

What do you think of Eric's list? What do you think of the business apps available in the App Store? Is the iPhone just a toy, masquerading as an enterprise mobile device? Or, is it a legitimate business tool?

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

20 comments
marc.austin
marc.austin

This sounds about right, and many of these apps have redundant functions. Consider that many businesses run operations on paper forms filled out on a clipboard. If each form could be replaced with an iPhone app, Apple has a long way to go in addressing business needs in a meaningful way. There are about 700 stock business forms from NEBS or Adams in circulation that you can buy at places like Staples. R.R. Donnelley and your local independent printer publish something close to 400,000 customized forms for US businesses each year. The Dept of Defense has about 4500 standard forms, and civilian federal agencies have about 6500 more. The State of Washington has 2300 forms in four agencies. If you think that's average for a state, there are over 100,000 forms you need to do business with every state in the union. What happens when you do business in the EU or another country? Take a look at Canvas www.gocanvas.com as a means for solving this problem.

mponeil
mponeil

Illiums eWallet stores all kinds of information in an encrypeted file. This in not advertisement but testimonial. I have been using this for years and it was finally ported to the iPhone/iTouch. I have hundreds of systems where I need to know the URL/Server/ User Id & Pswd. Most I use extreemly infrequently but when I need it it MUST be at my finger tips. THIS IS a business app for me.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Disclaimer: I don't own a smart phone of any make or model. Don't most of these apps simply duplicate utilities already available on the Internet? If the device has a browser, what's the point in paying for additional apps that appear to do the same things I can already do? Maps, currency converters, dictionaries, calculators, stock updates, weather, medical searches, job searches, social networks, traffic info, office suites, online games, internet radio: you can access all of these with a browser. I'm not disputing the business value of most of these (although we could argue about entertainment apps; they're NOT business); but what do you get by spending money that you can't get with a list of bookmarks?

dogknees
dogknees

Says it all I think. If Apple seriously expect us to believe there are 100,000 different applications for the iPhone, they're dumber than dirt. Isn't this supposed to be a managed service? Don't they vet things to ensure they aren't just the same app with a different name and color scheme?

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Just over 2 percent of iPhone and iPod touch apps are listed under the App Store's Business category. But are there more, hidden business apps? TechRepublic member Eric confer has posted a list of over 25 iPhone and iPod Touch apps he uses for business of a regular basis. Is you're favorite on the list? Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=1147

Slayer_
Slayer_

Almost everything you listed will take you to a google page with the information. And to the other guy, GOOD phones have the ability to view the non mobile version of websites. Thereby eliminating that problem.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Not all websites have mobile versions and smart phones have very small screens. The better apps spend some time thinking about the layout, color, icon size, etc and can really make using that functionality quite convenient, fast and easy.

steve.cohn.nz
steve.cohn.nz

For example - we are just about to release an app that lets you build a market survey questionnaire on our website then load it onto your device so you can conduct the interviews out on the street or wherever and then download the results when you are back at base (or over 3G if you want to)... I think this is the future of iPhone business apps - BTW - advertising... see isurveysoft.com for a bit about the old version

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

There are probably ten different 'fart' sound makers. Each counts as a different app, although they all 'doo' the same thing.

barnsfromOz
barnsfromOz

I love journalists who think that a count determines utility. Quality and quantity are NOT related. You all know this! Its a furphy (Aust. slang) to just count and compare. If there were only 15 apps for business on some phone, and they did all I needed, could that not-at least partly-justify my purchase of that phone? The rest of these iPhone apps are part of the 'long tail' (from Chris Anderson's theory) serving the myriad needs below the critical. If I tell you my top 10 apps, that doesn't tell you which ones are critically useful. If I use say Excel for 80% of my work, does listing my top 10 or even listing my top 100 tell you anything useful? There is not enough information in the 'count' itself to be helpful-in this case. An equally absurdly false assertion was from Pascal, the French mathematician, who argued that either God exists or he does not, thus making chances 50:50 either way - another furphy! Perhaps we should be asking why we let journos (and IT managers) get away with this rubbish... Mind you, some of the blog comments/arguments above make for a good laugh, and we all need those... ny 2c worth, barns

john-wagner
john-wagner

How many apps are there for the Blackberry?

techsourced
techsourced

Most business apps don't take you to a google page with information, they display the information in a useful way within the app, hence the ease and speed of loading vs loading a full webpage just to get the next 10 day forecast or top headlines in a particular category. In particular, financial and news apps are much more useful than any full webpage. All smart phones have the ability to view non-mobile versions of websites, thats a basic feature. BUT you can't change the screen size on a phone, trying to read a full size webpage on a phone seriously sucks, even with the easy zooming on the iphone. Apps are the answer to this problem, that's why so many ppl use them.

dogknees
dogknees

I understand that. My point is, why should there be? How is this a managed service? What exactly are they managing? Does having 10 fart makers make finding what you're looking for in the app list easier? No, it makes it harder, which is bad for the customer. After all, it's the user/customer that is most important, not the publishers of the apps!

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

Helps clear out a room when stuck in a boring meeting. People are starting to catch on, though, I'm afraid! ;)

santeewelding
santeewelding

...American slang for your remarks. Was your intent to instruct us of Chris Anderson, Blaise Pascal, and God? Or, that you have heard-tell of those names, and desire praise? I also slam your coinage of what journalists "think", and who "knows" what. Rubbish, indeed.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

the 'Open Source' crowd would tell you, "Choice is good!" Apple obviously has a similar attitude. It's working so far. My wife often says of movies, "If these are the ones that get funded, what do the rejects look like?"

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

For some reason, this brings to mind the thread about the test dump. :O

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Or do you need details about the advantages, both in terms of multimedia presentation and ROI, of a $3 bean and cheese burrito?

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