Just when you thought VCs couldn't get any trendier: Kleiner launches the iFund

Kleiner Perkins is the latest firm to prove that VC trendiness is only limited by one's imagination.

One of the first questions most venture capitalists ask would-be entrepreneurs is about the size of the target market. Selling into a niche market is generally frowned upon.

That is, of course, unless you're Kleiner Perkins and you want to throw $100 million at startups focused on the BOOMING iPhone applications market. With all of 10 million iPhones projected to be sold by the end of 2008, it's unclear how this is a good idea.

Perhaps the iPhone user demographics are such that an overwhelming majority want to buy applications, but I doubt it. Look at the Mac market. I'm a rabid Mac fan, but if I'm starting an applications company, I'm not going to go public on a Mac-only platform.

The iPhone has come roaring out of the gates, and I expect this to continue for a long time. I wasn't a believer at first but after buying one for my wife, it has grown on me. A lot.

What with its push into the enterprise with things like Exchange support, its popularity will likely increase. But it's still a relatively small market. How many iPod-only applications companies do you know? Not many.

This isn't a slam on the iPhone, which is a wonderful device. It's simply an open question as to whether there's a compelling market for applications on a device that has a limited market and a browser-based application interface that isn't going to make for an iPhone-only applications market, anyway. Maybe this should be called the mobile applications fund.

That would make sense.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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