Last Thursday, registered Apple developers received an e-mail about CEO Tim Cook keeping a promise he made at the World Wide Developer’s Conference – the App Store opened its digital doors in thirty-two new countries. This brings the total number of territories where the App Store is available to 155. Apple’s other numbers are equally impressive: the App Store now boasts a total of 650,000 applications, 225,000 of which were developed specifically for the iPad; users have downloaded an impressive total of 30 billion apps, earning developers a total of $5 billion in profits.
The comprehensive list of new markets focuses mostly on Africa and Asia, with a couple eastern European nations thrown in for good measure. It includes more familiar nations like Albania and Zimbabwe, and others you may not even have heard of, like São Tomé and Príncipe and the Federated States of Micronesia. In any event, the inexorable global expansion of the App Store could very well prove lucrative for developers with geographically specific apps and creative marketing campaigns.
Mat Smith of Engadget quips that “iOS users looking to Cut The Rope in Chad, or hurl Angry Birds in Albania can hit up their respective App Store now.” This is true, of course, but innovative developers might want to take a look at geo-specific needs of emerging app markets and tailor their products accordingly, on the off chance that consumers on the steppes of Mongolia or along the coastline of Yap might have different needs than those killing time on a Manhattan subway commute. Cell phone use in such exotic locales is higher than one might think, in many cases because the infrastructure in such places never quite managed to support land lines, resulting in a significant number of consumers for whom smart phones serve as essential tools rather than as expensive toys.
What might speak to the needs of these new consumers? Given the paucity of adequate infrastructure in many of these nations, would crowd-sourced apps prove useful and lucrative? Would targeted weather apps catch on in isolated island nations often and tragically surprised by hurricanes and tsunamis? We’re just spit-balling here, but if you have a great idea for such an app, drop us a line and we’ll get you started.