The irony of Apple’s wildly successful App Store is that the company resisted the idea of them in the first place. At the iPhone’s unveiling, CEO Steve Jobs spoke of the importance of Apple controlling everything on the device. “The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work,” Jobs told the New York Times.
Almost three years later, over two billion apps have been downloaded by iPhone and iPod touch users. Apps are now the focal point of Apple’s advertising for iPhones. And competitors are following suit: Palm, Nokia and Research in Motion all opened their own mobile software stores this year.
But it’s the App Store that dwarfs them all. With over 100,000 different applications available, we had a hard time coming up with a shortlist of good ones for World Report (though harder still was singling out the bad apps; the bad vastly outnumber the good on the App Store). Thanks to input from experts across the web, here’s what Kristie Lu Stout and I came up with:
Those are expert picks — so since everyone’s having their say, here are my favorite apps from 2009.
Tweetie 2 ($2.99): There’s a reason this app is on everyone’s list. The iPhone’s best Twitter app is fast, powerful, and incredibly easy to use. The only downside? It doesn’t support Push notifications.
Instapaper (Free; Pro edition is $4.99): I’m the sort of person who finds more stories I want to read on the Web than I actually have time for. This is where Instapaper helps: Mark links you’d like to read and Instapaper will download and save the webpage for you to read whenever you want wherever you want.
Ping! ($0.99): The App Store does have great fully-featured IM apps that do AIM and MSN (like BeejiveIM). So why do I use an app that’s limited to iPhone-to-iPhone messaging? Because that simplicity is what makes Ping work for everyone from the tech-savvy (me) to the not-so-tech-savvy (my aunt).
Pocket Universe ($2.99): This astronomy app probably has more information than you’d ever want to know about the skies. But it has one killer feature exclusive to iPhone 3GS users: It knows what direction you’re looking in, so it can tell you exactly what stars and constellations you should be seeing in the skies.
Canabalt ($2.99): I’m a sucker for simple games, and you can’t get much simpler than this: Tap the screen to make your running man leap from rooftop to rooftop. It’s a game that proves the value of simplicity: It’s so easy to learn that anyone can pick it up. The hard part? Resisting the urge to try and top your high score just one more time.
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition ($3.99): This scene-for-scene remake of a classic is just as clever, inventive and genuinely funny as it was in the 90s. They literally don’t make ‘em like this anymore: LucasArts stopped making new graphic adventures a decade ago.
Sam Goodman is a Canadian who went to China in 1995 to study Mandarin. Along the way, a craving for Western sandwiches made him an accidental entrepreneur, as creating food for foreign students turned into the restaurant “Beijing Sammies.” Goodman eventually opened five locations with a 100-person staff and $1 million in revenue. Goodman got out of the sandwich business and is now a management consultant and chief operating officer of Climate Action, an environmental services company. But his experience as an entrepreneur in China – navigating a nuanced landscape of cultural, political and economic hills to climb – led to his book, "Where East Eats West: The Street Smarts Guide to Business in China."
Goodman shares his short list of top biz mistakes Westerners make in China.
1. Any variation of “doing-things-like-you -did-back-home.”
You’re not back home anymore.
2. Overestimating the mystique of Face and Guanxi (network/relationship)
Understanding the concept of face in China is important, but Goodman says don't over-mystify it. To put it simply, face is appearance over substance. Goodman writes, "It's not just what you say, but how you say it. Did you say the right things? (What you thought doesn't really matter.)"
3. Misunderstanding how (much) Face and Guanxi affects your business.
"In the West, if you make a mistake it's understood that this happens. If you fall off your horse, you get back on. In China if you do something wrong, your family loses face. That's much more important."
4. Seeing China as one market
"Western Companies need to understand that China is really many markets (just like Europe) with different characteristics."
China is a “high context” communication culture, which is to say the words used is the least important tool. The situation – how, when and who is saying what – speaks more than words.
6. Thinking a contract is binding
"In the West, a contract is black and white. In China, it's relationship based. Don't be surprised if after you sign a contract in China, the Chinese come back and want to re-discuss a clause."
7. Long term goals with no term implementation
"Large corporations come into China with a 'long term strategy", then bleed money month after month, year after year always thinking that things will turn around in a few years and the bleeding period is necessary to 'lay a foundation'."
8. Confusing language skills with management or business skills
A good Mandarin or English speaker doesn’t necessarily mean they have a head for business.
9. Assuming price and quality are connected
"Westerners tend to think: the higher the price, the higher the quality. In China, asking a high price is an issue of Face."
10. Managing by remote control
In his book, Goodman writes, "Folks here like to make deals eyeball to eyeball with people they know who also know other people they know."
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