There's a secret behind the whopping number of applications in location-based services stores and it tends to distort the way people think of the applications: Many of them are "bulk apps," meaning that they are duplications. Apple's App Store, for instance, has 65,000 apps, but many of them are bulk apps.
That's one conclusion that can be drawn from an LBS report issued Wednesday by Skyhook Wireless, whose technology is tied to the world's Wi-Fi access points, enabling it to monitor the entire mobile apps marketplace.
Bulk apps are template-based applications that are sold at the same price, have the same look and feel, but whose content is swapped out in different locations. Skyhook cites the example of a developer who sells more than 850 travels apps based on the same template, but swaps out content for different locations like, for instance, Paris and London.
Kate Imbach, Skyhook's director of marketing and developer programs at Skyhook, notes that developers are still experimenting with the bulk apps approach to see if it will grain traction. "The release of bulk apps is a monetization strategy," she said in a statement. "These developers aim to sell many apps at low price points and low volumes, rather than millions of downloads of one killer app. Developers are experimenting with various price points, mobile advertising, and virtual goods."
The Skyhook report focused closely on the evolution of the two longest-running app stores -- Apple's App Store and the Android Marketplace. Skyhook found that the 99-cent app is the most popular paid category with just a few more selling for between $6 and $9. Higher-priced apps over $10 are generally for sports navigation applications for golf and sailing, for instance.
Skyhook found that Nokia's Ovi Store has the smallest ratio of LBS apps to total apps with just 2% of Ovi applications used for location. It's surprising that the percentage isn't higher, considering Nokia's $8.1 billion acquisition of Navteq.
InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis on application delivery. Download the report here (registration required).