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Real Business : Issue 1 2012
29 THE A$20M+ APP Tablets are clearly big business, but not for everyone. Every so often news outlets carry stories of obscure Australian application or game developers hitting the big time with a top-selling game, and in May 2011, Robert Murray sold his application development company Firemint (maker of the popular Flight Control game) to US games giant Electronic Arts for upwards of A$20 million. But according to Mobile Monday director Shane Williamson, such huge successes are few and far between, as the sheer number of developers now making apps for mobile and tablet devices makes it a very crowded market. The global financial crisis is also causing some would-be buyers to pull back. “I don’t think it’s easy for them, I think it is tough,” Williamson says. “My advice for start-ups is to know your market, and then you understand which platform is going to be appropriate.” WHERE WILL IT ALL END? The love affair with tablets is not going to cool any time soon. In late 2011 Telsyte revised its sales projections for the year up from 1.75 million to 2.54 million, and expects more than 4.7 million tablets to have been sold in Australia by 2014. According to Fadaghi that estimate could leap significantly if people start replacing their PCs with tablets rather than using them as a supplementary device. There are signs that this is happening. “Information coming out of the PC manufacturers is that they are suffering significantly,” Fadaghi says. “We are also seeing that something like 30 per cent of the people who have tablets are starting to use them as a primary computing device.” THE TABLET SUCCESS STORIES fall broadly into two camps: Apple with its iPads based on its iOS operating system, and a plethora of manufacturers building devices for Google’s Android operating system. Android-based devices have gained significant ground on Apple, in part due to the fact that some cost as little as half the price of an iPad and deliver similar functionality. Because Android can be used by all hardware makers, there is significant scope for innovation and the development of even cheaper devices. Microsoft has also developed its own tablet-oriented version of the Windows 7 operating system, and its forthcoming Windows 8 is tipped by some pundits to win it back market share lost to Apple and Google. Heated competition in the tablet market has led to some vendors taking extreme measures, such as Apple taking rival Samsung to Australia’s High Court to block local sale of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. It is unlikely however that such action will put much of a dent into overall tablet sales. According to Bruce Arnold, a lecturer in the faculty of law at the University of Canberra, other periods of rapid innovation have seen similar battles fought. “This is just business as usual,” Arnold says. “Ther e has been a lot of noise in the mass media, and certainly a lot of noise online, but essentially it is two very large corporations doing what large corporations have traditionally done, which is to push their own interests.” Apple leads the charge with the iPad, but competitors such as Samsung are already snapping at its heels. GETTYIMAGES 28-29Tablets.indd 29 28-29Tablets.indd 29 6/02/2012 6:15:54 PM 6/02/2012 6:15:54 PM
Issue 1 2010
Issue 3 2012