Although there is a lot of focus on hardware and built-in capabilities when a new smartphone or tablet is announced, it is also important to consider the application ecosystem before deciding on your upgrade.
A straight-forward metric for users is to simply look at which store has the most apps. Here Apple’s App Store for its iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices still comes out on top with a reported 650,000 apps.
Of these, 225,000 are for the iPad, CEO Tim Cook said in his keynote at Apple’s 2012 Worldwide Developer Conference.
Google takes second place with over 500,000 apps in the Google Play app store for Android, which doesn’t put it that far behind Apple when you consider the next closest, Nokia, with 116,583 apps for its Symbian devices (as reported during December 2011).
BlackBerry comes in last among the big mobile OS players with Research In Motion reporting over 99,500 apps in its BlackBerry App World during May 2012. Of these, 74,800 are for BlackBerry OS and 24,700 are for BlackBerry Playbook.
Many mobile marketplaces offer more than just apps, however, though few of them offer other media in South Africa. In fact, iTunes doesn’t even offer all its apps to South African users.
The tables below compares the app and book stores of the various markets:
|Digital marketplace||Apps market||Apps: Games||Books|
|Zune / Windows Marketplace||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
The purpose of this comparison is to see what each of the mobile digital content marketplaces offer in contrast with what is offered elsewhere in the world.
Shortcomings in the various stores may at least be partially addressed by other apps available in the ecosystem.
For example, the lack of music store on your mobile device may be addressed with a service such as 7digital which offers Android, BlackBerry, iOS, and Windows Phone applications.
Amazon’s Kindle application lets you read the e-books you have bought from them on iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry smartphones.
Samsung has also started video rental and purchase services in South Africa on its Android devices.
The table below continues the comparison, looking at music, movies, and TV series:
|Digital marketplace||Music store||Music subscription||Movies||TV shows|