Yesterday, Distimo released research showing that revenue on the Mac App Store is already half that of iPad apps. This reminded me of a thought experiment I had posed to some friends recently.
Here’s the scenario:
Assume you either work for a major brand like Home Depot or consult with them on their digital initiatives. You see news that Pixelmator grossed $1 million on the Mac App Store in only 20 days. You read a Distimo report about how much revenue has been made on the Mac App Store.
Do you advise your brand to build an app for the Mac App Store or not?
I asked friends who are big advocates of native apps and their immediate answer was, “No, it probably doesn’t make sense for a company like Home Depot to build a Mac app.”
Yet, if you ask the same question when it comes to mobile, the advice would likely be very different. Even though I advocate that mobile web needs to be part of a company’s mobile strategy, I wouldn’t think twice about the fact that a big brand might decide to build an iPhone app.
Why is mobile different?
I’m not posing a false question here. I’m sincerely trying to figure out why if I take the scenario above and replace Mac with iPhone or iPad, we would evaluate the situation differently. And when I say “we” would evaluate it differently, I’m including myself.
An easy answer is to say that there is no difference and that we’re wasting a lot of money building apps for mobile.
But if we assume for a moment there is a valid reason that causes us to treat mobile differently in this scenario, then it seems understanding this reason could help us articulate some core differences between mobile and desktop.
Some food for thought.