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We all know the numbers. Tens of billions of downloads, Millions of apps, Billions of dollars spent on Apps. The mobile app economy is huge and growing.

2013 07 16 at 1 43 PM

But this is blinding App store operators. Growth does not mean that the solutions and platforms in place are good enough. Actually because the market is growing so fast, it is more than likely App store operators they are doing just fine.

They are not. They could be a lot better.

App store Inefficiencies

  • Users complain of the App stores experience. 
  • Developers complain of discovery and back office management.
  • Most Apps downloaded are never used or forgotten (Recent study on this)
  • Most developers can’t make a living of their app because the majority of the spend is going to hits studios.
  • We don’t have hard data on this but it is likely that a very large chunk of apps never make enough money to even return the amount of investment made in time and money
  • Many Apps are frankly not worth the download and just participate is inflating the total number of Apps available.

The reality is that the App store economy is still vastly inefficient and could perform a lot better. This would require some serious changes and bold moves from both Google and Apple.

When you look at both the App store and the Google play store it looks like they have been designed for the past instead of being designed for the future. We ‘re not just talking about how it looks but also how they work

Dear Google

Take today for example: they announced a redesign of their store, but Google never took care to notify their developers this change was coming and instead of embracing the ecosystem to this change they just pushed a new Design (and code) that is going to break a lot of services and review sites using their site. It’s about time google brings a play store API and even an affiliate program so 3rd party can serve better discovery – because let s be honest – Google is not doing a good job at it, including at search. Google should let others do the job, within the respect of certain rules.

More on Google: Piracy. It is a lot easier today to get a paid app without paying than Paying on Google play. Just use Google to search “WHATEVER – Android/play store / FREE APK” and you ll end up in many forums. Thank you Google!

When will Google seriously address this problem and create a delgihtful payment experience, educating their users early on, without relying on mobile operators? 

2013 07 16 at 1 02 PM

When will Google integrate with Paypal and dump the ignored Google check out? Or even Let developers integrate their own billing with services like Stripe?

When will Google get rid of this stupid rule that forces a developer who decides to drop the price of its paid app to remain free forever or resubmit to become paid again?

When will App search be decent and allow users to actually filter better the results.

When will google get rid of this 2 levels of screens navigation which is so confusing for users. Where did the app i downloaded is? 1st screen? 2nd screen? where did i move it?

Dear Apple

iTunes is becoming unusable. too heavy, too complex, too slow. It is unthinkable that such a massive billion dollar market place stays the same for years to come. 

The App store on the iPhone is evolving at slow speed. iOS7 will introduce incremental improvements like the “Near me” recommendations that have been placed centrally when the use case is in reality very limited (how many times will you really need it)- and wish lists…. The navigation is the same, the structure is the same, the key discovery mechanics and limitations are exactly the same. Apple can certainly do better than that.

When will a major change happen? Apple makes some incremental changes to the App store – for example by placing a better 1 click access to top paid ranks from everywhere. But we’re talking bandages vs radical improvement

2013 07 16 at 1 30 PM

It is a fact, Bots and shaddy promotion technics are still out there and at scale. If you are curious to find out how, just look at the Appannie hour per hour progression of certain apps in the middle of the dark night in the USA or other countries.

Why can’t Apple do more about this? What don’t they update their algorithm to kill those shady behaviors and place a less central place to download velocity which is so easy to game. Why don’t they put top ranks at a more secondary level of navigation or randomize its presence so they have more impact and leave more room to other discovery mechanism?

How about the post download experience: how many times have you downloaded an app and never found where it was placed? Why can’t Apple let us just decide where the download of an app taking place (which folder for example). Which causes people to download apps and actually never open them.

And when will iTunes Connect become a world class console for developers including  stunning user interface, in depth analytics, best of bread reporting, easy review management. When will Apple start to be more transparent about how apps are being search/discovered and downloaded within the App store? (same goes for Google)

Conclusion

Big market numbers should not hide the fact that the App stores are far from perfect and actually hide terrible flaws that forces developers and users to extra inefficient efforts, loss of focus, energy, time and money. 

If apps are the future, then App stores should be the stores of the future and no rely on old formula recipes that worked for movies and music

Everyone has been celebrating the billions of downloads, the 5th year of the App store and what else. But the hard reality is that the App Economy is a massive business served by limited infrastructures that do not keep the pace with the growth of the market.

  • Users want better apps. Not more apps
  • Developers want more users. Not more downloads
  • App stores want to make more money. Not host millions of vanity apps.

And the recipe in place is not what can make this happen. It’s not some cosmetic changes and additional features that will make that happen. But an in depth revamp of what an App store should look like and work like.

 

 

 

  • Asis Haas

    Ermmm….. Dont know what to say.

  • David

    What a terribly written, heavily opinionated post.

    The points you make for their downfall are so factually-light, their validity is next to nil. The App Store is hard to use? It couldn’t be much easier, especially on iPhone.

    The App Store isn’t and should never be associated with a social-networking platform. If your app doesn’t get the views, downloads and credit you was expecting, maybe take the time to advertise, expel and release it in ways others are. The App Store should never have been your number-one-go-to for advertisement. It’s sole job should be distribution to users and payment.

    Your point about Apps never being used is incredibly irrelevant. Make something worth using or rest easy knowing you atleast made the sale.

    The last three of your points are just head-shakingly-horrible.

    This is much less an informative post, more a child causing a ruckus in sight of change and struggle.

    • http://ouriel.typepad.com OurielOhayon

      ” Your point about Apps never being used is incredibly irrelevant. Make something worth using or rest easy knowing you atleast made the sale.”

      someone is also making typos…

      now jokes aside…Who talks about App store being associated with social networking platform? this is actually irrelevant to the argument of improving stores?

      Who talks about app stores being difficult to use? Kids use them. they are not “difficult” to use, they are inefficient in promoting the long tail of apps and in helping users downloading only the app they will use and not a plethora of Shadow icons on their device…

      Apps are not being used so make them useful? Well right. That’s Genius!! but this is not my point here. We re talking about the necessity to surface the best both in passive browsing experiences and search.

      All in all i am glad we disagree

  • Ankit Talwar

    Great article! These discussions need to continue to move the marketplace forward!