Poor Apple. All the company wanted to do was announce some healthy download figures from their App Store and then sit back to bask in the congratulatory glow, and then along comes a report [pdf link] suggesting that many of the titles responsible for that "1.5bn downloads in one year" may in fact be cookie-cutter "bulk apps".
"The release of Bulk Apps is a monetization strategy. These developers aim to sell many apps at low price points and low volumes, rather than millions of downloads of one killer app" Kate Imback, Skyhook Wireless
"Bulk apps" are generic software shells based on templates, that developers can inject with different content and list as separate downloads. They're often seen in the form of travel guides or local search apps; Skyhook Wireless, the company responsible for the report, highlight one particular developer who lists over 850 travel apps based on the same template but each offering specific city or country data, such as Paris or Costa Rica.
Skyhook - who are responsible for the hybrid positioning system that can use a combination of WiFi, GPS and cell towers to fix location - goes on to claim that around a third of App Store titles for location-based services (LBS) are "bulk apps". It seems likely, however, that other segments - i.e. outside of the LBS remit Skyhook examined - similarly feature large amounts of "bulk apps".
"There are over 50,000 App Store apps, and this massive number is often referenced as a sign of the tremendous growth of the App Store. But, it is important to understand that bulk apps make up much of this volume" Skyhook Wireless report