With 27 apps per device, iPhone customers aren't likely to stray

Just like the purchased .AAC music libraries that kept traditional iPod owners from straying to other MP3 players, the iPhone's apps are likely to help Apple keep its touch device customers loyal to its products.

Apple announced the Billionth app downloaded this week and at the same time filed with the SEC that it had sold 37 million iPhones and iPod touches together. That means, on average, each device has around 27 downloaded apps. Some people haven't installed any, while others have maxxed out their iPhone with 144 applications (soon to be 172 with OS3). Most of us are closer to the 27 in the middle.

That is an average two screens of Facebook, Amazon, Skype, NYTimes, WSJ and Google Earth for every iPod touch and iPhone out there.

More importantly, there have been a lot of paid applications that won't go with users to the next smartphone platform. I say this as I contemplate moving to the Palm Pre or Android platforms next year (mostly just to escape AT&T, who charge way to much for substandard service). All of those paid applications and games won't be going with me if I leave. I guess I can keep them on my (what will be) old iPhone or get an iPod touch to keep these apps with me. But who wants to have two mobile devices?

When the ZuneHD comes out later this year, it won't likely woo many iPod touch owners who have a gaggle of games, utilities and other apps stuck on Apple's platform. Conversely, when Apple releases its new touch products later this year, current touch product owners will be able to take their apps with them.

It is similar to what a Windows user who is considering moving to the Mac platform is thinking. "I'll have to re-buy all of my applications". I don't think the average Windows user has installed 27 applications on their machine either. Up until this point, it has been a problem for Apple switchers, now this stickiness phenomenon will be an advantage for the company.

Me? As I said, I love my iPhone but I hate AT&T. It seems Apple is going to stay with the Death Star of Mobility for at least another year. What are the options for people like me?

When my plan expires in the coming months, I will either jailbreak my iPhone and go to Tmobile, who try harder but whose coverage/network isn't any better than AT&T, or drop my AT&T plan and get a Verizon/Sprint mobile hotspot and use a VoIP service for voice communications. I am leaning toward the latter, especially if Clear Wifi ever gets going on the East Coast.

This painful workaround illustrates how much I am stuck on the iPhone and its apps even though I detest the network that Apple has forced on me.
Article by Steven Weintraub Computerworld Blogs