There shouldn’t be an app for that!

Before we profile some of the most useful business apps around in an upcoming issue of ComputerWorld Canada, we’d like to take some time to discuss a growing trend in the mobile industry — completely useless apps.

Now this was probably inevitable. It seems like every big mobile player rushed to create their app stores overnight. Along with the official app stores from Apple, Google, Palm, RIM, and Microsoft, we’ve also seen a bevy of independent app stores such as Handango and GetJar.

With all these virtual stores comes the need to fill the virtual shelves and a whole slew of mobile developers are stepping up to the plate. We wish a lot of them would have just stayed home.

We’ve all seen the mainstream coverage that was dedicated to dumb apps like the “iFart” and the “Baby Shaker,” but a lot of other ridiculous apps deserve to be pointed and laughed at — especially ones that appear to be useful until you actually download them.

Since we just got the Android-powered HTC Dream, we’ll focus primarily on Google’s Android Market, where unsurprisingly most of the apps are freebies.

Take the “Battery Percentage” app, which for one dollar will put the battery percentage of your phone in the status bar. On the surface this might seem useful, of course, until you realize that the app actually contributes to your battery drain and that you already have a fairly accurate battery life indicator in your status bar.

For all you organization freaks out there, “NextAction” is an app that claims to keep track of your to-do list. Basically you type out something you’re going to do and then it lists it right there on the screen. We couldn’t type “delete NextAction” fast enough.

“Local Radio Finder” allows users to find radio stations near their current location. That’s all it does. You can’t even listen to any of these radio stations with the app, so it’s certifiably useless. The download clocks in at over 700KBs, which is like receiving another punch to the gut.

These stupid apps are just the tip of the iceberg. They are also unique because you might actually believe they are useful based on the descriptions, not like “SimStapler,” which simulates the act of stapling, or “Birth Buddy,” an app that somehow tracks your contractions.

Even more shocking is that this crap is only going to get worse. Research group In-Stat recently reported that mobile app store users will double by the year 2013.

That means we’re due to see even more mind-numbingly stupid apps. We might even see an app that automatically creates another useless app.

Then all these useless apps might band together like in The Terminator and we’ll have to fight an epic “human versus app” war. Please, CW readers, don’t let it come to this. Stop buying and making stupid apps before it’s too late.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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