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Another Bonus of Apple’s App Store

by Travis Harvey | April 29, 2010April 29, 2010 11:27 am PDT

Apple’s App Store is rolling up on the 200,000 app milestone for a software platform less than two years old.  It can pull in an insane amount of cash for developers and its expansion only strengthens the iPhone platform against its competition.  Beyond that, as the review staff passes over each app that makes its way through their doors, Apple gets the first look at developers and technologies that can further Apple’s world domination.

Late last year, Lala unveiled an app they had submitted to the App Store that allowed for streaming music libraries and super cheap music streaming privileges.  The app lalaiconsat in the approval process for an unusually long amount of time and the two announced Apple’s acquisition in December.  While it was completely possible Apple had been eyeing up the company some time earlier, it’s also possible after seeing Lala’s application that they could benefit from its technology and staff.  If nothing else, the Lala app sealed the deal.  They needed it to get where they’re going.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that Apple had acquired Siri, an app dedicated to being your personal assistant.  Anything you need to search for (a destination, an event, the weather) you ask for as normally as you would to another person.  Siri digests the words you said and how you said it and fetches your answers automatically.  It’s a smart search engine through natural interaction.  Like Microsoft has seen with Bing, there’s a level of demand for a search engine that does more than process keywords.  Perhaps its time we heard rumors of an Apple search engine again?

Beyond the cash cow that is the App Store, Apple gets a front row seat at some unique, appealing apps as they make their way through the approval process.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the reviewers flag some of the best that fit with the direction Apple is looking take in more areas than just the iPhone.  It’s a fortunate side effect of Apple’s walled garden but you can bet they’re taking full advantage of such a strategy.

Do you think Apple intended the App Store to open their eyes to technologies they could potentially acquire?  Did they already have their eyes on Lala and Siri before the apps entered the approval process?  Let us know what you think in the comments.