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AppNation Spotlights 'The App Economy'

It was a busy week in the City by the Bay, with concurrent conferences filling up a couple of wings of the Moscone Center. While the venerable Intel Developer Forum (IDF), the giant chipmaker’s periodic conference for hardware and software developers, took over Moscone West, a bouncing baby tech show, the AppNation Conference, occupied Moscone North.

The inaugural, two-day AppNation event was billed as the first conference focused on the "app economy." The show featured a fairly impressive lineup of speakers and exhibitors for a newbie. The roster included Google, Fox, Zynga, Microsoft, The North Face, AT&T, GetJar, Mediabrands, Major League Baseball, General Electric, The Wall Street Journal, AKQA, Smule, Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, Symbian, PepsiCo, JP Morgan Chase, Ogilvy, Lima Sky (pause for big breath), and dozens of others.

In his opening remarks, Drew Ianni, chairman and founder of the event (and former chairman of a digital marketing conference called Ad:Tech), shared some AppNation research, which predicts that a million mobile apps will be available for download by 2012.

"It's this ecosystem and economy that's sort of sprung out of nowhere," Ianni said. "It's a huge potential market. It's also a revolution."

San Francisco's Mayor, Gavin Newsom, was on hand to welcome an estimated 1,200-plus attendees to the event. Among other things, the Mayor announced that he would be issuing a challenge to developers to make the official Gavin Newsom app for his campaign for Lieutenant Governor. 

Some interesting stats came out of this show, as Jonathan Carson, CEO of the Nielsen Company's Telecom Practice (yup, the TV ratings guys), rolled out the results of an ongoing mobile computing study, dubbed "The Mobile Apps Playbook." The results reported at the show are based on an August survey of more than 4,000 mobile subscribers who reported downloading an app in the previous 30 days.

According to the study, 91 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay for a game; 86 percent said they would be willing to pay for an "entertainment" app; 84 percent would pay for map or navigation apps; 82 percent would cough up for productivity apps; 77 percent for "food" apps (whatever those are); and 76 percent would pay for news apps.

"A year and a half ago, the conversation was mostly about iPhone apps and Facebook apps," Ianni said. "But businesses were being transformed by apps. They're turning into the new touch points for brands. And it's a new media distribution channel."

Hmm… And it's still kind of about iPhone and Facebook. According to the Nielsen survey, smartphone app downloaders currently have an average of 27 apps on their phones -- that's up from 22 app reported in December 2009. Unsurprisingly, users of Apple's iPhones have the largest number of apps on their devices; Android uses came in second and BlackBerry users third. And Facebook is the most popular individual application on all three.

Posted by John K. Waters on September 17, 2010