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Mass-produced apps comprise one-third of App Store: Study

This research comes from Skyhook Wireless’s July Wireless LBS App report on trends in location-aware apps from the major application stores. The report researched applications from Apple’s App Store, Google’s Android Marketplace, BlackBerry App World, Nokia’s Ovi Store and Palm’s App Catalog focusing on the evolution of location-based application pricing in the two most established stores, Android Marketplace and the Apple App Store.

“We’ve found is that many apps that command at the highest price points, from $9.99 all the way to $64.99, tend to be for specific uses, like marine navigation or golf,” said Kate Imbach, director of marketing and developer programs at Skyhook Wireless, Boston, MA.

“These higher-priced apps have been around for years, running on devices well before the iPhone,” she said. “There are only a handful of developers selling other types of apps, like games or travel guides, for over $9.99.

“It’s not proven yet whether these specific-use apps will continue to command extra high price points over time.”

In both the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace, $0.99 applications make up the most popular paid category.

Very few applications account for the for the $6.00 to $8.99 applications, yet some location based apps sell for $9.99 and up in either store.

Many of the high priced applications are acutely focused in navigation for sport-related activities such as golf and sailing.

In early 2009, there has been an outstanding spike of hundreds of $0.99 applications because several batches of “Bulk Apps” were released.

Bulk Apps are all sold at the same price point and based on the same template. Each app in a batch has the same aesthetic feel to it as all the others, but the content is substitutable.

“Developers release bulk apps as a sales strategy,” Ms. Imbach said. “Rather than trying to sell one killer app, these developers are hoping to sell many apps at low price points and low volumes.

“On one hand these apps clutter the store, but on the other some of them provide a useful information or service with a narrow scope,” she said. “It will be interesting to see if this model does drive sales and developers continue to use this strategy over time.”

About one-third of the Apple App Stores volume is comprised of these types of mass-produced applications.

While some say that the 50,000+ applications in the Apple App Store are credit to its tremendous growth, this research from Skyhook makes it clear that bulk apps are accounting for much of its impressive volume.

Skyhook’s report also indicated that Nokia’s Ovi Store has the smallest ratio of location-based applications to total apps at 2 percent.

Skyhook found this to be surprising as Nokia has shown great interest and commitment to location-based technologies and services, such as its $8.1 billion acquisition of Navteq.

“We are still in the early stages of fundamental change in the way that we communicate and interact with our mobile devices,” Ms. Imbach said. “The app developers driving this change are still experimenting with business models and marketing strategies.

“But the center of the mobile world has clearly shifted into the hands of individual mobile app developers,” she said.