Posted by: Olga Kharif on June 11, 2008
Analyst Gene Munster recently surveyed 20 developers attending Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWCD). He found that half of the developers were working on enterprise applications for the iPhone, and that 71% of all applications they were working on will be made available to consumers for free. What this means is that many developers will be making business applications for the iPhone available for free.
That make one think furiously. Until now, most mobile application developers have charged users for business applications such as fancy scheduling and customer relationship management software. But what if that were to change, and these applications were to become free? For companies watching their budgets, that may increase iPhone’s appeal quite a bit. After all, if you pay $20 a person for a particular application, and you have 1,000 mobile workers, those costs do add up. The move could hurt software companies that currently sell mobile software. It could also hurt mobile software retailers that share into revenues from business applications.
The big question is: How can developers make money on free mobile software for businesses? Unlike consumers, business users aren't likely to agree to view ads. Still, I think business users won't object to sponsorships -- say, a sponsor's name displayed in the corner of a cell-phone screen. Some developers may also want to offer free iPhone applications as part of their own marketing, as a gesture of goodwill. Others may simply bundle mobile into their PC licensing fee.