Friday, July 11, 2008 1:00 AM
So where exactly are all the game-changing entertainment applications for the iPhone? After skimming through the App store that launched today on iTunes, it shows that of the 554 applications, 214 carry the "entertainment" tag, but only six are video related and 14 deal with music. And of those, most are informational with less than half actually playing video or music. Instead, the entertainment category is chalk full of old books with 44 titles, ranging from Charles Dickens'Hard TimestoA Tale of Two Cities. There are also 44 games broken into a standalone category, but plenty more slipped into the entertainment bucket. It's early, but without anything more substantial coming from the music labels or TV networks, it begs the question as to whether entertainment companies will harness the potential of the device? Furthermore, the lack of entertainment options is even more shocking given Apple's ( NSDQ: AAPL) history of blazing new ground with digital music and video on the iPod.
Overall, most of the applications that launched today are from the same companies we heard from in February, when Apple first announced its plans for the SDK and the App Store, and last month, when it firmed up plans for the new device. There's been no surprises yet?there's not one new branded, real entertainment application to be found from the TV, film or music industry. Pandora and AOL ( NYSE: TWX) Radio are offering free iPhone applications under the music category, but that's about it from the movers and shakers in that space. And RealNetworks told us yesterday it has no plans to develop a Rhapsody application for the iPhone. Social networking applications, books, games and clients for online properties seem to comprise the bulk of what's been released thus far.
Is Apple holding itself and others back by discouraging media companies from developing apps for the iPhone because it prefers to be the point of distribution for content? After all, the company was well ahead of the digital, portable music curve with its iPod, having usurped much of the music industry's power in less than a decade. If Apple doesn't make a mobile hit this go around it will clearly have to look out for the likes of Nokia ( NYSE: NOK), which plans to subsidize access to entire catalogs of music through device sales soon. For now, Apple doesn't appear to be blazing any trails in big-name mobile entertainment, but perhaps its only a matter of time.