On December 10, 2009, unheralded Finnish casual game developer Rovio Mobile issued an iPhone title dubbed Angry Birds. Bringing to life an epic battle pitting a flock of vengeful birds against the green pigs that stole their eggs, Angry Birds was one of roughly 10,000 new applications to enter Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store that month--long odds, to say the least. Fast-forward to December 2010, and Angry Birds is now an international sensation, with more than 50 million downloads across a range of smartphone platforms--reports indicate Rovio is looking to expand the franchise into television and movies, with plush toys and official t-shirts already on sale.
Perhaps no other app better illustrates the larger commercial possibilities of the smartphone era--in the span of a year, Angry Birds evolved from a simple but addictive mobile game to a multimedia juggernaut on the brink of pop culture immortality. But while Angry Birds is arguably the biggest mobile app success story of the last 12 months, it's far from the only one. As 2010 draws to a close, mobile apps are now a mainstream phenomenon, and millions of subscribers can't imagine life without them. And the gold rush is just beginning: With smartphone adoption exploding, device capabilities improving, and iPhone and Android handsets rapidly migrating from the consumer space into the enterprise, there are more opportunities for savvy, ambitious developers than ever before.
In this special year-in-review issue, FierceDeveloper looks back at the headlines and trends that shaped the mobile software sector in 2010, and set the stage for the app innovations to come. Please note that we are on publishing hiatus until Tuesday, Jan. 4. Have a memorable and safe holiday season, and we'll see you back here in 2011. -Jason