While Wall Street is bemoaning its own doom and gloom, there's one big Valley venture capital firm that sees a bright future on the more immediate horizon. Prosperity, thy name is iPhone.
Today, Kleiner Perkins announced that it would be starting its iFund blog to monitor all of the activity in what it calls the "emerging open mobile ecosystem." Since March 2008, Kleiner has put up $100 million to get behind new start-up companies making software that runs on the iPhone and iPod touch. While this is a bit of a shift from Kleiner's main focus these days -- that would be green tech -- $100 mil is nothing to shake a stick at. By comparison, as Valleywag pointed out a few months ago, that's 10 times as much as Google put up to invest in its upcoming Android platform.
So what does Kleiner say about what's happened in the first half-year of the iFund?
In 6 months, we've received over 2700 plans. To put it in context, that's about 20x what we received in a similar period last year. Out of that group, we've funded five companies totaling more than $30M of investment.
That means that there's $70 mil out there for more start-ups, folks.
Kleiner's Matt Murphy also says that he's blown away by the success of the iPhone; 6 million iPhone 3Gs have been sold in the U.S. in the first two months of being on the market. But, he adds, there's a "double wow" when you take into account the new AppStore.
60M downloads in 30 days. And hot off the presses 100M in 60 days! According to our estimates and M:Metrics data, that's more iPhone application downloads in 30 days than all US carriers combined have in a quarter. That means a relatively small base of handsets (~12M, mostly US) is dramatically outperforming the other 250M.
If that data is accurate, it seems pretty clear that Apple is blowing away the competition for applications on iPhones, just like it did originally with the iTunes store. Online music is a way to get people to buy iPods, and the apps are a way to get people to buy iPhones. Apple makes a bunch of money on the hardware, and other people bring the content -- in this case, software. Freaking brilliant.
As an iPhone user (I've got a first-generation, though), I've rather enjoyed the AppStore. MLB At Bat and Cro-Magnon Rally remain a couple of my favorites, and I can't wait to see what else developers will be coming out with in the future.