iStore coming to the iPhone – 2012? Amazon’s biggest threat?

December 7, 2009

in iphone, iPhone Developers, Location & Context, Scenarios & Futures

I’m reading the NYTimes article on Apple’s app store and for anyone that reads me there’s no surprises in it. So lets think more broadly about the real implications and the strategic options. How is the app store evolution challenging Apple or what options is it creating for it? Then what might it mean for you, your mobile aspirations, or retail focus? Is Amazon threatened? eBay? Craigslist? Nokia? RIM? Android? This is not a prediction – its just meant to broaden the conversation.

App Store Is a Game Changer for Apple and Cellphone Industry –

“There’s never been anything like this experience for mobile software,” Mr. Smith says of the App Store boom. “This is the future of digital distribution for everything: software, games, entertainment, all kinds of content.”

For example…

  • iStore: At what point does the iTunes store (when to rename it the Apple Store? or iStore?) become even more like Amazon? When books are added? When magazines? What about all the contracts for services. Can Avis, Hertz etc be far behind ZipCar? What’s the cost saving for getting rid of the counters. What about airlines? Obviously there’s a real intersection between cost savings, a unique app and whether or not it is free. It may still be along time before Expedia can check me in on a Continental flight.
  • iListings: If Apple behaves more like Amazon, should it just enable third party stores within the store? Would this type of approach not help to eliminate the developer issues re approval? That could also take the store into other territory that becomes interesting. Eg. Amazon isn’t local it is global. However the iStore is potentially local for all sorts of local services. I’ve called them mobile social classifieds when talking about twitter in this regard. The “persistence” factor is not a strength on twitter, however new listings by local is huge. How does Apple harness this opportunity? Simple add another “app” like contacts. Now it’s classifieds – apply a fee structure and reputation system to it. Many of the elements already exist.
  • iTrade: As Apple drives the iStore harder it becomes my store, my trading point. Again unlike Amazon with the data in the palm of my hand the iStore must help me trade my information, my location, and my desires. So far Apple is acting like a traditional online store. The opportunity is to bring us into it. When Apple thinks about “core applications” like iTunes, contacts, notification server, they now need to think about my personal trading capability. They also need to think about sending money. I have an iTunes account. You have an iTunes account. It should be easy to send money. In fact Apple long term should think about creating its own currency and providing dividends to users that trade their info on the iStore network.
  • iAccess: Now for the iStore to work for me Apple must give me more control over my data and be very transparent about it. It must help me with notifications as a replacement for traditional call signaling. It must help me broker my access and provide the filters that I’ll require.

Perhaps it all sounds a little far-fetched. The momentum behind Apple, and the touch screen is huge and yet there remain many risks. I read recent data that Samsung sold 40 million touch devices last year. For Apple to win they must accelerate sales of the iPhone/iPodTouch around the world (can’t do it at current prices points). So what opportunities exist to accelerate “commerce” around the iPhone?

Ten Year Strategy? iMoney: There’s easy a 10 year strategic vision in putting these components into play. Developers are proving why every company needs a mobile and app strategy. Apple’s strategic preference will not lead it automatically to becoming a trading network where the devices are reduced to the importance of a Fedex delivery driver’s handheld. Go into an Apple store and get your latest checkout on an iPodTouch (slightly augmented) and it becomes easy to see Apple can put a cash register in everyone’s hands.

I think that’s strategic. That’s the difference between thinking about mobile money and mobile wallets and “ringing up business”.  It may also be a fact like that which makes iPhones “cheap” in the emerging markets. It may be the banks that are happy to subsidize the “cash registers” of the future where the receipt is just an SMS and the receipts are all owned by the individuals. So as new users come on to the iStore they already have a trade-able history.

Four Apple APPS for your iPhone: When one puts a hat on like this.. the RIM stores, the Android, Ovi, etc stores just don’t seem to cut it. So… let’s close with four “APPLE APPS” that could really change the current thinking.

1. Cash Register. Let anyone one ring up and collect money for goods or services anywhere. (proof is already in the Apple stores) SMS receipts to any number or iTunes name. More … when does Home Depot or Sainsbury’s let you use it to check out when in their store? Gosh customer pays for the register…
2. Mobile Social Classified (these also appear in the store and new local listings.) Simple format. It’s already proven.. uses Twitter/Craigslist like functionality with photo, video attachments etc. Most are free. Money is in the cash register. Jobs and cash for work.
3. My iStore Balance. This also has a reputation element. However it lets me send money, receive money etc. It may also help me manage multiple identities. Eg let me make payments using a TwitterID. (needs an improved definition!)
4. Feedback. Take the feedback function out of the store and enable a broader form of feedback. Whether product, service, place, content, etc.. this feedback become a “bookmarking” system much like we use It’s a great place to capture my interest on problems I’m having or things I need fixing. This is important for tying back to third-party suppliers.. all those cash register services etc. It’s also perfectly appropriate as “context before a call request directed at any large company.

Making these transactions more transparent is important to further building trust in the iStore as my trading place. Once we can aggregate or pay for some of our services via our iStore we can also aggregate our demand. And that is real power.

Apple, put the store in the hands of the user – the iStore!

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