Smartphone sales rocketed 74.4% last year, and at least 450 million units are expected to sell this year, according to market watcher IDC. The tablets market shows a matching growth trend with about 18 million units sold in 2010, and sales expected to clear 50 million in 2011.*
Mobile application sales on specialized online resources – appstores – provide further evidence of a market on the grow. Gartner analysts have predicted app sales to triple this year to a total of US $15.1 billion.
As part of its strategy in this market, i-Free develops applications in-house, produces third-party projects and promotes the more successful Russian applications in those overseas markets where i-Free has solidified its position, such as China.
This year, i-Free intends to focus mainly on smartphone and tablet applications on Android, iOS and Bada platforms while retaining a strong focus on interface innovation.
So far, i-Free has come up with three cutting-edge smartphone apps: Smartive Travel, an app to search for and buy air and rail tickets; Shoptimus, Russia’s first “mobile superstore” for smartphones, and “Pocket Blonde” – a Brainy Series application along the lines of the Smart Mobile Aide concept.
Smartive Travel is an application to search for and buy air and rail tickets. This is the first such application in Russia (and one of the few existing in the world) that goes all the way from flight or train search to paying for the ticket and storing its electronic copy in your smartphone.
Smartive Travel comes with several payment options: by credit card, via payment terminal or from one’s mobile account. The app will display a railcar chart for the user to choose suitable seats.
One other great thing about Smartive Travel is its easy “intuitive”
Shoptimus is Russia’s first “mobile superstore,”
Shoptimus will also assist in conventional shopping with its easy store search engine, which will also provide information about the merchandise of choice. A Shoptimus user may then want to see if the same item is available online for less, buy it and have it delivered to their doorstep.
Brainy is a series of “Smart Mobile Aide” applications with a revolutionary interface designed to redefine the smartphone experience. The first app in the Brainy Series is “Pocket Blonde.”
The “Pocket Blonde” is a good-looking girl who “lives” in your phone, both inside the widget and as a standalone app. She is there to provide all the info you need and answer all your questions. You can “train” your “Mobile PA” to be able to process more queries and offer more relevant info and services.
For now, “Pocket Blonde” users have access to news, weather forecasts, horoscopes, funny stories and event reminders, but games, social network sharing and many more useful features are coming soon.
For the time being, all the three i-Free apps are on Android. They are available in Russia and internationally from Android Market, where they can be downloaded for free.
Shoptimus and Smartive Travel for iPhone are slated for launch in the next 2 or 3 weeks. The tablet versions of the three apps are currently in the works.
“Our products are now in their infancy. Very soon their functionality will be dramatically expanded,” said Kirill Petrov, Partner and Managing Director of i-Free. “There will be social network integration, game engines and more functions, such as hotel search and reservations on Smartive, convenient shopping tools and an electronic “shop-window”