App Stores for Femtocells?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on June 24, 2009

Do you think app stores are just for cell phones? Think again.

This week, industry group Femto Forum has begun encouraging companies to create apps for small at-home cellular base stations. One example cited in this story: Say, you are away on a business trip, and want to remind your roommate to feed the pet fish as soon as he gets home. You type a reminder into Facebook. As soon as the roommate gets home, your home femtocell senses the roommate’s cell phone and relays the message onto his phone.

Apps like that may prove to be quite useful, though it remains to be seen whether users will be willing to buy apps for devices other than their cell phones. Mobiles keep track of users’ location, also, and a smartphone app may be able to remind the roommate to feed the fish without the femtocell’s help.

Still, the fact that the Femto Forum is pushing apps is significant. Today, we tend to think of app stores as serving only cell phones. But in a few years’ time, that may change. Femtocells, as well as wireless broadband-enabled printers and fridges, photo frames and cameras may access app stores as well. Clearly, the app store opportunity is much bigger than what it appears to be with only smartphones in mind. Considering smartphones alone, consultant JupiterResearch estimates that direct and indirect app store revenues will reach $25 billion by 2014. With femtocell and other apps-enabled gadgets added into the mix, the actual market size could prove to be even greater.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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