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Is the App Store Broken?

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the honeymoon-is-over dept.

Cellphones 258

A recent post by Instapaper's Marco Arment suggests that design flaws in Apple's App Store are harming the app ecosystem, and users are suffering because of it. "The dominance and prominence of 'top lists' stratifies the top 0.02% so far above everyone else that the entire ecosystem is encouraged to design for a theoretical top-list placement that, by definition, won’t happen to 99.98% of them." Arment notes that many good app developers are finding continued development to be unsustainable, while scammy apps are encouraged to flood the market.

"As the economics get tighter, it becomes much harder to support the lavish treatment that developers have given apps in the past, such as full-time staffs, offices, pixel-perfect custom designs of every screen, frequent free updates, and completely different iPhone and iPad interfaces. Many will give up and leave for stable, better-paying jobs. (Many already have.)" Brent Simmons points out the indie developers have largely given up the dream of being able to support themselves through iOS development. Yoni Heisler argues that their plight is simply a consequence of ever-increasing competition within the industry, though he acknowledges that more app curation would be a good thing. What strategies could Apple (and the operators of other mobile application stories) do to keep app quality high?

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It's not a marketplace.. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569605)

It's not a marketplace, it's a lottery for developers.

Re:It's not a marketplace.. (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 5 months ago | (#47569777)

This is actually a much better way of framing what I was coming here to say.

They're relying on the fact that big success stories are big to continue a narrative that encourages development targeting mobile platforms. It's every bit a bubble, where people see only the positive signs of the market in the news.

Now the reality is starting to set in(and it's not just App Store, Play Store has the same problems), and serious "investors"(developers investing time in money in app development), are pulling out. The next step of a bubble is the "pop" where everyone realizes there's not much of a market left, and flees.

Re:It's not a marketplace.. (2)

DivineKnight (3763507) | about 5 months ago | (#47569959)

Which confirms what I thought about this market all along, that it was foolish developers chasing nickels in place of dollars.

Re:It's not a marketplace.. (5, Funny)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47569975)

I don't have time to reply to this post. I'm too busy playing the kim kardashian game.

Re:It's not a marketplace.. (0)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 5 months ago | (#47570023)

Yeah, hate that $13 billion *developers* have made so far.

Foolish.

Re:It's not a marketplace.. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#47570371)

Yeah, hate that $13 billion *developers* have made so far.

That money's been spent a long time ago. A lot of it on development of more apps that have not been profitable.

Assuming your figure of "$13billion" is correct, of course.

Anyway, this article is about the marketplace, not about the relative handful who have scored big on an app, then hired a staff, invested in their businesses, took venture capital and private equity and now are well and truly fucked.

Developers, developers, developers! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 5 months ago | (#47570525)

Yeah, hate that $13 billion *developers* have made so far.

That's rather like judging the profitability of web development by how much money Facebook make. The total market value is vast, but extremely concentrated on the success stories and with massive variability.

This was entirely predictable as soon as Apple allowed user expectations to settle on buying any app, no matter how useful or entertaining, for almost no money. I'm actually a little surprised that it's taken so long for the exodus to really get going, but I guess as long as Apple's own fortunes were improving and thus the market for iOS apps was getting larger, a lot of developers held out hope that they hadn't really picked the wrong strategy.

Now that Apple's own iOS strategy is looking tired -- I can't remember any exciting new product since Jobs stood down, and iOS 7 seems to be competing with Windows Vista and Windows 8 for the "most unimpressed user base in recent computing history" award -- I suspect all but the bravest app developers or those who already won in the gold rush are checking where the exit is. And thus the vicious circle will strengthen, unless Apple can pull some sort of remarkable rabbit out of the hat to re-energise their once fanatically loyal customer base pretty soon.

Re:It's not a marketplace.. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47570055)

There has never been much of a market to begin with.

Given that you can today get quite decent indie games for your computer for 5-10 bucks, flashgames-gone-iPad can't sell for more than pennies. There was a bit of money in timewaster games, games you can pick up and put down at the spur of the moment as you have to kill a little time, waiting in line, waiting for the bus or waiting for your girlfriend to stop talking.

The problem is that these games are rather easy to make and that only the first handful of people who had the idea to do so actually had a market to speak of. After the flood of copycat games drowned everyone, nobody really could make more than a handful of bucks out of the 99 cent game fad.

The next step now are free-2-play, pay-2-stay games. Games that are "free" but require you to spend money (and often quite ridiculous amounts thereof) to keep playing. Considering that I now even start to see TV ads for them, I dare say that they, too, are no longer something an indie game maker can try his hand at, considering that very obviously the game mafia has cornered that market already.

So, essentially, I'd say indie games on phones are over. Get over to Steam, there seems to be a market for indie games left.

Re:It's not a marketplace.. (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 5 months ago | (#47570641)

Or, more correctly - you can't just develop an app. You must market your app too.

Too many of the big guys got there because they got in early. Then everyone assumes "if you build it, they will come", but no, you have to advertise it, market it, or like obscure FOSS projects, no one knows about it.

It's just like everything else - doesn't matter if it's Apple's App Store, Google Play, Steam, Xbox Live Market, Playstation Network, etc. Just putting it on there isn't enough - you have to get word out there.

Perhaps the worst part is, developers really do NOT know how to market. Or they think they're above it - "I hate advertising, and everyone blocks ads, so it's pointless". Well, if people don't know, they can't find it.

For iOS, there's a neat service called Appshopper.com, and it pulls new apps from the app store. There's easily over 100 pages of NEW apps every day. Relying on "stumble upon" traffic isn't going to happen.

Re:It's not a marketplace.. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47570009)

It's just reheating the American Dream: Anyone could win. Just not everyone.

So ... yes, it's a lottery. But then again, so is the Dream.

Re: It's not a marketplace.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570259)

The digital version of "the American dream".
It takes more than skills and a good idea, it also takes luck. And the odds are getting worse every day if you haven't made it already.

App stores are like dating sites... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569607)

Nobody choses me!

Re:App stores are like dating sites... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569691)

... and job boards where everyone ignores my resume!

Re:App stores are like dating sites... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569853)

Hello Richard Stallman

Re:App stores are like dating sites... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569931)

RMS had a girlfriend once. He named a kernel after her and she dumped him. So he dated the kernel instead. Then it dumped him.

Re:App stores are like dating sites... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570141)

Thats the result when you give the kernel the ability to make kerneldumps.

Obvious solution. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 5 months ago | (#47569617)


Become the sole developer for Blackberry app!

Re:Obvious solution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569759)

Already tried that. Didn't work.

Re:Obvious solution. (0)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 5 months ago | (#47570569)

That's an amusing but perhaps slightly ironic comment. One of the few places left in mobile app development where someone new could really win big would be releasing a killer business app. If you could do it on the BB platform as well then they would probably throw their substantial resources behind you, because it would be in their interests to rejuvenate their platform on the back of your success.

Rock Star Economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569631)

Don't quit your day job.

Is there a question here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569633)

A bunch of guys run off to make apps for one of the more profitable mobile app stores and as the mad rush of fart apps and candy crush clones begins to wane these guys need to go back to regular day jobs. News at 11.
 
I seriously don't understand what this story is suppose to be. App quality is not going to suffer. Sure, a few good coders lost their shirt in the deal and now are gun shy but overall the market for apps will be fine.

uh, get rid of the "top X" ranking? (4, Insightful)

swschrad (312009) | about 5 months ago | (#47569635)

that thing gets in my way as a user all the time anyway. I do NOT want to see the stacks of pre-teen games, I am looking for a specific app almost all the time. just blow the sucker away, and if somebody wants to see downloads by counts, sell them an app to pull in the data.

Re:uh, get rid of the "top X" ranking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569721)

that thing gets in my way as a user all the time anyway. I do NOT want to see the stacks of pre-teen games, I am looking for a specific app almost all the time. just blow the sucker away, and if somebody wants to see downloads by counts, sell them an app to pull in the data.

I think Apple knows what they're doing...

Re:uh, get rid of the "top X" ranking? (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47569991)

I think what's needed (and what I use) is third party sites to vet and recommend apps. I really like toucharcade for games. if they say something is good, then I often go check it out.

Re:uh, get rid of the "top X" ranking? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570333)

Nice try, dude waiting to release a $1 "app to show the top downloads" that you already know everyone would buy, so you'd be an instant billionaire.

Re:uh, get rid of the "top X" ranking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570589)

that thing gets in my way as a user all the time anyway. I do NOT want to see the stacks of pre-teen games, I am looking for a specific app almost all the time. just blow the sucker away, and if somebody wants to see downloads by counts, sell them an app to pull in the data.

When the ipad 2 first came out the App Store allowed you to view apps by date posted ... and if you wanted to spend the time you could wade as far back through the list as you wanted. Sure, flipping past a few pages of foreign-language apps for every day's post set was annoying but I loved how discoverable new apps were.

Re:uh, get rid of the "top X" ranking? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 5 months ago | (#47570651)

I reject his premise prime facia. There is no evidence to believe that not having a top ten list would lead to a more equitable pay distribution. Its just something he can bitch about.

Recent purchases/downloads (5, Interesting)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 5 months ago | (#47569671)

A list of recently purchased/downloaded or even new additions would cycle a larger group of useful apps to the app store audience.

Re:Recent purchases/downloads (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 5 months ago | (#47569847)

A list of recently purchased/downloaded or even new additions would cycle a larger group of useful apps to the app store audience.

New apps should be featured, not most popular or most sold. Right now there are an extremely limited number of ways to filter apps when you browse and this more than anything is hurting the smaller, startup app developers. I know, I've been one!

Re:Recent purchases/downloads (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569925)

To my mind, Amazon 10-15 years ago was better designed than the App Store is today. I've had people tell me they had trouble finding my app when they knew the name, so that tells me basic search is borderline incompetent. Then just some basic association or personalization lists -- people who rated this app high also rated these other apps, bought this/bought that, etc. -- would be huge. I've actually found out about some of my favorite bands from Amazon, whereas I stay the hell away from the iTunes/App Store unless I know exactly what I'm looking for (or I'm checking the discount bin).

Re:Recent purchases/downloads (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47570001)

Then just some basic association or personalization lists -- people who rated this app high also rated these other apps, bought this/bought that, etc. -- would be huge.

they have this.

Re:Recent purchases/downloads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570211)

You're right, my bad. I guess the only time I've seen it is on the movie page where it's so consistently awful I look past it and forgot it existed -- e.g., right now my top picks include "Housesitter", "Fletch", a Mummy sequel, and "The Break-up" in the initially-visible part of the list. It's like an anti-recommendation list. So I guess I need to change my request to include some level of competence, although I'd hope the "also bought" lists would be better.

Start looking for other places to promote.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569693)

Maybe /. could see some new advertisement revenue

Too many apps, too much appcrap (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 5 months ago | (#47569713)

There should be far fewer "apps". Any "app" that just displays content should be a web site. Once you get rid of the appcrap, there probably is no need for more apps than there were boxed software products.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (5, Insightful)

nwf (25607) | about 5 months ago | (#47569757)

Most apps perform way, way faster all the while using significantly less data than do web sites. This may be more a ding against most web sites, but is valid none the less. I use a number of apps that can fetch their data and display it before a mobile browser has even pulled down the main content, let alone the 20 JavaScript libraries, 12 crap affiliate site icons/links and the countless images that add nothing.

However, some apps are worse than their mobile web site versions, e.g. most news sites.

My own company's mobile app, which I developed, can typically refresh a page in under 25 ms via 3G. Plus, customers prefer the apps to the mobile web sites.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570053)

sounds like you need an adblocker and selective script blocking for your ios's safari browser? oh? you cant do that? perhaps you also then need a more open ecosystem for your device?

far better than some ad infested, usage tracking, data mining, location monitoring, home phoning, piece of shit single purpose app.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (1)

onix (990980) | about 5 months ago | (#47570243)

Oh man, couldn't have said it better. nwf's opinion is of course self-serving. In all seriousness, Apple doesn't help to reduce web clutter. I'm forced to use iPhone's safari, but also use Weblock in combination.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (5, Interesting)

jxander (2605655) | about 5 months ago | (#47570139)

Question for you, as someone who has developed a mobile app:

How much harder is it to optimize a mobile version of the webpage vs writing an app from scratch and getting it approved for App Store release?

Re: Too many apps, too much appcrap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570313)

Depends on the app and what platforms you want. I think ios and android development are pretty easy. Web seems harder to get right on all browsers, but most stuff is pretty easy.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (2, Insightful)

Hewligan (202585) | about 5 months ago | (#47570389)

Well, I've done both of those, and the webpage option is far, far easier.

But people always want you to build an app, because apps are cool and websites are old hat.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570595)

My question for him was a bit more simplistic. I'm a cell infrastructure developer, and most 3G ping times are north of 100ms, so how the hell is he getting a 25ms update?

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (5, Informative)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 5 months ago | (#47570681)

Question for you, as someone who has developed a mobile app:

How much harder is it to optimize a mobile version of the webpage vs writing an app from scratch and getting it approved for App Store release?

Mobile developer here who has done hybrid apps, Android apps, iOS apps, web apps, etc.

It's hard.

Web apps do not get the native scrolling mechanism, so scrolling feels very funky in web apps. Web app developers write their own inertial scrolling mechanisms to try to deal with it, but web apps always feel wrong as a result.

You also don't get access to a lot of native functions. No barcode scanning. No access to the user's preloaded Facebook account (with authorization, of course.)

There is another problem in that, especially on Android, web technologies are just badly supported. It's getting better in more recent versions of Android where Chrome is actually the engine used end to end by everyone, but earlier versions still on Google's old ass version of WebKit blew chunks.

Loading can be a problem as well. Real apps by definition cache a certain amount of code and resources on the device. A web page has to fetch all resources from start to finish. So while a real app has it's loading UI cached on device, and can display it right away when the user taps a link, a web page has to go fetch a UI over the network to display a loading UI for the operation the web app is about to do over the network. Gross.

The other really messy thing is a real app is pretty easily able to figure out what kind of device it's on and render content accordingly. Web apps can kind of guess what type of display/device they are running on, but again, it can be messy. Especially with new things coming like Adaptive UI/multi windowing coming on iOS where your window or screen size may have no real connection to what kind of device you're running on. Web pages at this point basically assuming they're always rendering full screen on mobile, and do their layout computations based on that, but that looks like it will change on future iOS and Android devices.

You also have a problem with native widgets. If I code a real iOS app, if I run it on iOS 6, it looks like iOS 6. If I run it on iOS 7, it looks like iOS 7. I don't have to create new assets, the app automatically ingests the correct look from the widget set built into the OS. With a web page, I get the "joy" of building my widget set from scratch, and trying to make it at least resemble the system UI widgets the user has been trained to use. And better yet, if I make my web app look like an iOS app, I suddenly have a bunch of Android users unhappy my web app looks like an Android app.

Finally, web apps don't offer any way to be embedded as extensions on iOS, or activities on Android. You can kind of fake it with some really really ugly URL handling handshaking, but this is really problem prone.

TL; DR: Mobile web frameworks/browsers are still immature, and don't offer basically mobile specific functionality that's needed to do apps well. It's not a problem of it being hard to do a web app just as good as a native app, it's a problem of it being impossible because the feature sets just aren't there.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570649)

I can't even get an ACK in 25ms over 3G, let alone any data. Are you sure you're not blowing your own trumpet a tad?

What Apple .. do.. app quality. (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 months ago | (#47569943)

On Steam there's the Greenlit section.

Only vote for what you want, don't vote for the rest.

However it's abused by developers and bundle makers in that the developers may for instance run a contest where you're supposed to vote it up to be part of it or the bundle makers promising Steam keys if the game is greenlit.

Hence you get votes for shit.

If it was more restrictive and shit wasn't let it that might had been a good thing.

Alternative is to put badges on all the titles where you put gold badges on actually good products played by many, silver on other good/decent products and nothing on the rest or something such.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 5 months ago | (#47570183)

All I see is a natural settling of the app bubble. This is a good thing. It just means the market is maturing. The alternative is a hard crash, like when the dot-com bubble popped, and no one wants that.

The author all but admits that app development was seen as a get-rich-quick scheme, and acknowledges the market is maturing, but falters when it comes time to face reality. Removing "top sales" lists or curtailing frivolous app development would be a bandaid. It would inconvenience users in a ham-handed attempt to "spread the wealth" - exactly the wrong approach to take, since users would simply lash out at the app store developers for doing that.

What's the solution? Probably the same as it's always been: work hard, create a great product, sell it for a fair price, market it in a unique and clever way, and hope for the best. If an app developer goes under, it just demonstrates that wasn't exactly beating a door down for their app. It's harsh, but that's how markets work. App stores could better solve the problem by developing algorithms to show more relevant products based on purchasing and browsing history, but honestly, you can't rely on anyone else to sell your app for you.

Launching a startup has always been immensely risky. The notion that app developers should somehow be immune from normal market realities is laughable.

Re:Too many apps, too much appcrap (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 5 months ago | (#47570239)

The problem is when you have no access to data, then your website solution's useless to me.

For example, the Ultra Street Fighter 4 Framedata app for tablets would be useless to me if I had to have data to access it. the data's rarely going to get updated, and the structure of the data doesn't fit nicely into ebook format either.

This also isn't the biggest problem either. The biggest problem is the amount of apps. For example, there's a ton of twitter apps in the store, which one do you use? Also what reason is there to pay for say, Tweetbot when the official app is free? Also do you get gun-shy because you've bought a few apps and they suck?

Some of this isn't being touched upon by TFA, so. Take that for what it's worth.

economy bullshit argument (0, Troll)

Tom (822) | about 5 months ago | (#47569739)

As the economics get tighter, it becomes much harder to support the lavish treatment that developers have given apps in the past, such as full-time staffs, offices, pixel-perfect custom designs of every screen, frequent free updates, and completely different iPhone and iPad interfaces.

This is why these app developers fail where Apple succeeds. They create apps for an environment they don't get. Apple is very much about this attention to detail in everything they do, and it's a huge part of why they are successful.

The "economics get tighter" argument is a strawman. Apple users are not the kind of people who drive to a different supermarket because the tomatoes are 5 cents cheaper there.

Re:economy bullshit argument (0, Flamebait)

Zordak (123132) | about 5 months ago | (#47570091)

Apple users are not the kind of people who drive to a different supermarket because the tomatoes are 5 cents cheaper there.

Exactly. They're the type of people who always shop at the same supermarket, where the tomatoes cost twice as much as anywhere else and have a glossy wax coating, are all the same, approved size, and are utterly free of any flavor. In fact, they don't even know how to cook, and don't know why they're buying tomatoes in the first place, except that the reanimated corpse of Steve Jobs told them to. They buy their precious, shiny iTomatoes and dutifully display them in the crispers of their iRefrigerators. Then a week later, they toss them out and go back to the iGroceryStore and buy the new, upgraded iTomato 5S, with even more shiny and even less flavor.

Re:economy bullshit argument (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#47570483)

Part of the problem for developers is that Apple has banned some of the most profitable types of app, i.e. anything that competes with the functionality of Apple apps. For example alternative web browsers that are more than just a skin like Firefox. I'm amazed they bowed to pressure and allowed 3rd party keyboards, which are always top sellers on other platforms.

The other part of the problem is that Apple does little to prevent developers being screwed, and to be fair most app stores are guilty of this. If someone has an interesting idea you can guarantee that about 15 minutes later Zynga will have cloned it, and then thrown money at marketing it and probably sued the original developer for good measure. The App Store only rewards Zynga for this behaviour.

Welcome to application development (5, Insightful)

blueshift_1 (3692407) | about 5 months ago | (#47569747)

I feel like this is basically the same story as Desktop application development. A few started, as time went on and it was profitable many people entered the market, and eventually the main market is controlled by a few key players. There will be a handful of smaller companies making modest profits on really useful tools, but a lot of it will go unnoticed by the masses. People download what they need. Period. If your app doesn't apply to the masses, then the masses aren't going to buy it. But if it is useful enough and polished enough, there is a good chance it will flourish (though like anything viral - some ridiculous things will get through).

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569753)

Works exactly as designed.

Apple wants few high quality apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569763)

vs a bunch low quality ones.
Since that might make their platform look more appealing, one could say that maybe these standards are too high but calling them broken might be too much.

Hire Netflix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569769)

Personalized app recommendations, since Apple banned third parties from doing it.

People expecting their marketing for free (5, Insightful)

jolyonr (560227) | about 5 months ago | (#47569781)

Too many people want to get rich by selling apps and expect Apple to pay for the marketing of their apps for free on the App Store.

The App Store serves one purpose - not to promote your apps, but to make money for Apple.

If you want to go into business selling an app for iOS then you need to have some plan in place to market it. That doesn't mean sticking it on the App Store and hoping for the best.

If you can't afford to market your app (either by paying for advertising somewhere or just physically spending your own time promoting it) then you really shouldn't waste money or time to develop it either.

Re:People expecting their marketing for free (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570109)

I think most developers would be happy if the App Store just had competent search and good personalization/recommendations, like other sites have had for over a decade. As it is, the store is the equivalent of putting something at the end of the aisle for couple of weeks and then immediately putting it in a back room where people have to ask for it by name and an employee brings out a box of crap you have to sift through that might not even contain what you asked for. I would guess that one factor in the failure of the music+social thing Apple tried a couple of years ago is in part because no one wants to consider the horror of trying to discover music on the iTunes Store.

THIS Re:People expecting their marketing for free (1)

mozumder (178398) | about 5 months ago | (#47570125)

If you're trying to start a business around apps, you better have a business plan in place, and that would typically include your marketing activities.

If you don't know the basics of even how to email thousands of media sites to get them to publicize and review your app, then you shouldn't be in the business.

The app store isn't broken. Your business plan is.

Re:THIS Re:People expecting their marketing for fr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570647)

This is funny, you're currently modded -1 for stating "business 101". Wow, people here are so pissy to anything contrary to their world view.

Re:People expecting their marketing for free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570217)

Keep in mind you can't sell your iOS apps outside the Apple marketplace. So if you invest in promoting your app, you're also forced to invest in promoting Apple's App Store!

Re:People expecting their marketing for free (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47570343)

Oh yeah, what the world needs is more advertising. If that takes off, I'll create an adblocker for the appstore and get rich, for there will be ONE app that EVERYBODY wants!

Re:People expecting their marketing for free (3, Informative)

jolyonr (560227) | about 5 months ago | (#47570419)

Advertising is marketing. But not all marketing is advertising.

For example, how did you learn about adblock?

Curation: Apple does high profile reviews... (2)

west (39918) | about 5 months ago | (#47569791)

One possible imperfect solution:

For $x ($200? $500? $1,000?), Apple will do a real review of the application and attach the results to the app store listing. Then allow sorting by rating.

This is imperfect, in that it's still one person's opinion and subjective as any review is, but:

- It allows good applications to have an possible (no guarantees) avenue to stand-out apart from sales.
- By charging enough to cover the cost, it allows Apple to hire enough people to do timely reviews.
- Keeps out the chaff (who's willing to pay $500 for a guaranteed 'F' rating)

Nothing will guarantee successful curation. The question is what methods might *improve* discovery. Remember that any method that can be done by anyone, will be done by everyone, making it useless.

Re:Curation: Apple does high profile reviews... (3, Insightful)

MouseR (3264) | about 5 months ago | (#47569879)

Adding more category tags and features filtering to the search engine would let you find precisely what you are looking for.

But despite the absence of a very good search engine, even my two dinky Apps have managed to gather thousands of download.

What's really missing IMO is an in-app rating SDK. Users just cant be bothered to rate Apps because it takes them out of their task and into a different app where they must navigate the comments & ratings links in your App listing on the App Store.

Something akin to Netflix. Right in the app where you can star it and add a comment.

Re:Curation: Apple does high profile reviews... (1)

west (39918) | about 5 months ago | (#47570551)

Indeed, I am not certain why Apple hasn't done this. Can they not ensure the external call to rate the app isn't hacked to always give 5 stars?

I'd love to hear the technical justification (and I'm sure there is one, but I'm curious).

Re:Curation: Apple does high profile reviews... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569999)

For $x ($200? $500? $1,000?), Apple will do a real review of the application and attach the results to the app store listing.

Do you think anyone would believe their review? If it's good - Apple is on the take. If it's bad - Apple was paid off by a competitor. Just like the millions of other "reviews" on the Internet.

Re:Curation: Apple does high profile reviews... (1)

west (39918) | about 5 months ago | (#47570533)

First, if Apple puts a measure to sort by review score, then absolutely it will be taken seriously. Most people would not be informed enough to even care where the review came from - it's simply a metric.

For the informed, I would expect it to have as much credence as magazine reviews, which get taken fairly seriously by most.

Remember, *nothing* is going to work perfectly. What I want to see is ideas that allow more (not all, more) decent apps without $100K budget to get some more discoverability.

The Entire Web Dev "Ecosystem" is Broken (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 5 months ago | (#47569833)

With all these frameworks and "platforms", and more and more "drag and drop" app building for Mobile and Browser apps, Web Development is no longer a sustainable means of employment for freelancing. Within the next 5 years, any High Schooler CS student will be able to drag and drop their way to a Cloud Hosted Web and Mobile App with a REST-API. It's to the point that the median wage is less than I can make as a full-time employee -- which means contracting is becoming no longer viable a because clients willing to pay my rate of $110/hr (which I consider very reasonable considering my skillset) are farer and fewer between especially when there's a legion of scrubs out there willing to together something in Angular (today's a very popular MVC that holds your dick for you while taking away all that nasty OOP stuff like inheritance and abstraction) for as low as $35 or $40 an hour. Thank god I have a few in-demand specializations and some arcane knowledge. But it's hard to want to stay Contracting when lately I get job offers (just one today in fact) offering $150k to $200k a year + benes on a regular basis. So while Contract work seems less viable, Full-Time seems to be offering better wages than ever. Probably due to the strong demand for Developers capable of filling Leadership roles. However, I'm not giving up just yet, and working on creating something that doesn't exist yet, a self-generating API platform and hopefully will turn to the new fangled "begging" economy to raise a livable wage (or more) to develop the UI portion in the form of some Services or Apps over on Kickstarter once I have a demo and a fancy video. But if the Begging Economy stuff doesn't work, yes I will likely take a FTE position at a Company sometime in the next year or two.

Not Broken (1)

Petersko (564140) | about 5 months ago | (#47570147)

It doesn't mean the whole Web Dev "Ecosystem" is broken. It's working fine. People just have unreasonable expectations of it.

It has changed, and may no longer support the way you want to engage it... if you don't adapt, it's you that's broken.

Re:The Entire Web Dev "Ecosystem" is Broken (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47570379)

I don't really fear that you'll be going extinct anytime soon. Web designers were in that bind before. "Nephew art" anyone? Where webdesigners got fired 'cause "my nephew can do it, he's good with computers".

Development doesn't stop, especially not in a technical field so closely tied with marketing and PR as web design. What "anyone" can do will flood the market, to the point where webpages that offer it will be met with "been there, done that" yawns. What people want is something new. New ways of presenting stuff to them is the key. Because that's something those "web kits" can, of course, not offer.

And don't get me started on security...

Re:The Entire Web Dev "Ecosystem" is Broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570473)

So much bitterness just because you couldn't manage to keep up with modern development.

Top lists aren't the problem (1)

unimacs (597299) | about 5 months ago | (#47569841)

The problem is that the mobile app market has become saturated and the price users are willing to pay for apps is so low. Getting rid of top lists may remove some perceived unfairness but it won't solve the fundamental problem (from the app developer perspective) of supply and demand.

A random freebie with comparison program (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 5 months ago | (#47569851)

That is, if you already own app A that does (x) then you can sign up to randomly get a random app B that also does x.

If you agree to rate and compare both of them, then at the end of one week, you can if you desire, trade in app A for app B for free if A costs more than B (or the price differential if B costs more than A.)

When buying apps, these ratings would be shown next to the regular ones, and be sortable.

The app creators (and the app store) would have to agree to this program, giving up their products for free in exchange for this rating system.

Decaying ratings (1, Interesting)

pla (258480) | about 5 months ago | (#47569859)

Subject says it all:

Don't allow a once-five-star app to rest on its laurels forever. After six months if you haven't inspired anyone new to rate you, your rating should decay to zero. Not only would this tend to favor new apps over old ones, but it would also effectively punish those developers who "fire and forget" app after app after app with zero support or updates for old apps.

Re:Decaying ratings (4, Interesting)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 5 months ago | (#47570263)

And what exactly is the advantage for an app to be new? Or what is the disadvantage for an app to be old?
Last time I checked software did not age.
I rather have an old working app than a new immature one ... that does not mean new apps are immature by definition.

And why do users demand updates for old apps if the app is just working fine? I hate this update mania.

40 Apps on my iPad and many more on my iPhone demand that I update. I don't ... as long there os nothing broken I keep the old one.

If I easy could fallback to the previous one, then I would try new updates. But more interesting would be too have the old _and_ the new one.

Re:Decaying ratings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570399)

Well, that's nice of you, but just like there are newer versions of chrome and firefox for new HTML5 tricks, there are new versions of the OS. If you don't update you don't get newer features. And after a few years you are unlikely to get *any* updates for any app, since all require you to upgrade the OS. So most popular and used apps update just because they have to adapt. With this in mind, it actually makes sense for two or three year old apps to rot in ratings, since they are unlikely to support new features.

Of course this is all from the point of view that more features is better, which I don't agree though.

MOAR STATS!!! (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 5 months ago | (#47569863)

No, seriously.
I would like to sort by app age (time elapsed since it was first published) then average # of updates/month. Then take that output and breakdown by category. Or breakdown by free, freemium, shareware, paid, paid for by ads, etc.

As an Android user, I loathe using Google Play to look for software. I have 5 games on my phone, all casual, the sort of things that you play while waiting for the bus or on the loo, and still I get shitty recommendations like Batman Arkham Origins (I hate Batman), Holly Hobbie and Friends Party (seriously??? what the fuck!) and Fantastic Eleven (I only watch the World Cup and European Cup, and only if I have time).

Under "Recommended for You" I see "in the Mood for Romance" (HUH!), Muscle Meals (the fuck, I don't cook), and so on, and so forth. Golden prize goes to "Hairstyle Guide" e-book. No Scifi, which I love.
recommendations based on installed apps ratings is flaky at best. I gave an app 2 stars (because it's mostly bad and I am looking for another), Google Play says "no recommendations based on your score" but when I give an internet Radio app a score of 5 stars (because it's awesome) it recommends me... more Internet Radio apps. It somehow seems to think that bad ratings mean "I don't need apps with that functionality" and good ratings mean "I'm looking for more of the same type" while it's quite the other way around.

Re:MORE STATS!!! (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 5 months ago | (#47570155)

Yes, this is idea. The google play store is completely useless for finding top notch apps. As with the PC market, there's usually 2-3 applications that have all the features and aren't buggy and don't have a terrible user interface, and then 1-2 open source options that are very similar, and then 10,000 one-off single feature applets which are mostly useless and ancient.
 
I don't even use the google play store search function. I just google for lists of top versions of the type of app I need (with this year's year in the search results), then go download/buy that one and hope it stays updated.
 
I used to wonder why people use brand names when product names are so important. This is why. Complete chaos. In 10-15 years there will probably be an umbrella of 20-30 companies that offer suites of good programs that all work together well. Right now I'm going to avoid a new program by a new developer unless it does proper magic like Word Lens (which is now owned by Google), and just stick with curated lists on %RandomAndroidApprRviewSite%.

You mean having a trillion apps isn't wonderful? (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 5 months ago | (#47569865)

We were all told we'd be billionaires. Oh well.

Re:You mean having a trillion apps isn't wonderful (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47570199)

I am a billionaire yet I only download free apps. how do you think I became a billionaire?

News from 5 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569883)

This has always been a problem with app-stores. The most popular apps will always be the most popular apps because everyone uses the most popular apps because everyone else uses the most popular apps.

Re:News from 5 years ago (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47570395)

You just conclusively explained Windows and WoW.

Try finding games and apps for kids. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569911)

Download a few kids games and you'll see what the problem is immediately. They're mostly freemium garbage where "success" requires an endless stream of money. Finding decent games for kids has become a chore. Relying on the "curation" in the App Store is a good way to guarantee you're going to be installing shit games and apps.

It's so frustrating to see the App Store filled with games where the goal is to manipulate a little kid into begging for in game currency instead of being fun / educational.

Also, the ads that hijack my browser and open the App Store really need to fuck off and die.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569915)

...their problem isn't the appstore.

Their problem is that they are developing for the current underdog (i.e. iPhones/iPads...)

The solution is simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569945)

All you need to do is remove the app store. Simply curate which apps will and will not run and let people buy apps like they do any other piece of software. Problem solved.

Develop Business Apps (1)

PineHall (206441) | about 5 months ago | (#47569971)

Matt Asay says there is more certain money when you develop apps for enterprise [readwrite.com] . "[D]evelopers who target the enterprise are twice as likely to make $5,000 per app per month and 3 times as likely to earn over $25,000 per app per month."

Re:Develop Business Apps (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 5 months ago | (#47570063)

You mean you can make more money developing software to do things that people need than churning out the same old crap games and hoping to make money from advertising or in-app purchases?

I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

Most online stores are "broken" (2)

CityZen (464761) | about 5 months ago | (#47569985)

I'm consistently amazed how everyone continues to make bad online stores when there are good examples to follow.
Ebay and Newegg are fairly good examples. They have extensive hierarchies of categorization, a healthy supply of
sensible filters, and, most importantly, they work in a sensible manner.

Case in point: you navigate down various categories, set up some filters, click on a product, then hit the "back"
button, and, lo and behold, you're taken back to where you expected to be. With some stores, once you
click on a product, it loses all the history of how you got there, which is totally nuts. You have to start over from
the top again. (Or, even if there is a sensible back option, it may be painfully slow to get you there again.)

Of course, having a tabbed web browser makes things even easier, since I can drill down, set up filters, then
middle-click on several different products (opening up each in a new tab), and flick between them at will.
I can add products to a "watch" list, so I can look now and decide later if I want to get it.

The only way that I use the App stores on iOS or Android are to already know the app I want (from having
looked at the wider internet), click on "search", and find that specific app. Anything else is just a hopeless
potshot. I think that Apple/Google know that this is the only method that needs to work, and thus they
don't try to improve things.

Just one data point here... (1)

Torp (199297) | about 5 months ago | (#47569995)

... but I stopped looking for new apps (well, i was getting mostly games) for iOS because there's simply too much free to play shit.

Not sure, never used it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570069)

Not someone who trusts those places in the first place.

Not because of malware, but because I saw it immediately as a way to eventually restrict the kinds of programs that can be loaded on your hardware.

The whole point is to eventually bring this to the PC. Then the Gov. can outlaw something and remotely wipe it from your machine. You'll wake up to find files missing that were recently deemed sensitive. Your recording of police beating you will be remotely wiped off your phone before your lawyer can obtain it.

The service from the very beginning was about control. I've chosen to never use it. So I couldn't tell ya if it's broken but I sure as hell thought it's very concept was broken since the beginning.

How to fix the app-store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570081)

1) Prevent any paid app from including in-app purchases, require paid apps to present full content unlocked by default, and any future content to be added for free.
2) Prevent any paid app from being replaced by a "free" version containing in-app purchases.
3) Segregate demo versions of paid apps, and apps with in-app purchases into their own sections of the app store, taking them out of the FREE section.
4) Allow users to delete apps from their purchase history.

Re:How to fix the app-store (1)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#47570089)

Don't see what the hell #4 is supposed to do, to be honest.

But the rest is easier solved with "don't allow in-app purchases".

Re:How to fix the app-store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570721)

Allowing users to delete apps from their purchase history would allow apple to keep track of that stat. Right now all the keep track of are installs. I've no doubt that a good many apps which gamed the system to get onto the top chart would be relegated to the dustbin of history, if people were allowed to tell apple "this thing is junk and I want to be rid of it, forever" - and if that stat became relevant to the rating.

As for in-app purchases, they aren't inherently bad, but with apple having basically no regulations on their placement or use, we're seeing a ton of abuses. Just recently I had a game which I bought way back in 2008 (Wild West Pinball) replace the version I paid for with a "free" version that displays full-screen advertizing, during gameplay, with an in-app purchase to remove the obstructive ads. This sort of thing happens because right now, there's no regulation saying you can't do that.

We've seen what happens when a marketplace runs without regulations. Complete meltdown.

Re:How to fix the app-store (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47570439)

5) in-app purchase total spend limit. Sure if someone wants to spend $1,000 playing candy crush, who are we to stop them? They're probably mentally ill though, so perhaps we should?

This whole principle is the flaw (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 5 months ago | (#47570103)

in the glory over capitalism.

Search and categorization are hopelessly broken (1)

swb (14022) | about 5 months ago | (#47570137)

I can't tell you the number of times I've searched for games and occasionally other categories and gotten fed up and not bought anything. The categories are mostly unhelpful, the search is completely useless, there's no good filtering, it's awful.

That being said, I still have dozens of apps, some with obscure features that I don't know how I found them, so it's not impossible to find apps, it's just hard to fine tune a search.

One filter I would like to see is "Has In-App Purchases" being something I can filter out. Especially with games. I'll pay $10 for a good game, happily, if it is feature-complete without buying add-ons.

Re:Search and categorization are hopelessly broken (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | about 5 months ago | (#47570205)

This, Just 'categories'?? really? How about a level or two of additional sub-categories, so when people are looking for say a graphics program they could go to productivity->graphics->cad..

Sales != Marketing (1)

Attila Szegedi (3770409) | about 5 months ago | (#47570197)

I think the problem here is that people expect that App Store will do marketing for them. Well, it does, in form of the top lists, but they shouldn't really rely on it. What App Store is for is sales: a venue for people to buy your app, when they already know they want it. It is poor for marketing (making people aware of your app and wanting to buy it); you should handle that externally. It's not just an App Store issue either, although it's probably most prominent example - seller marketplaces like Etsy etc. are also exhibiting the problem, but they too can only be considered to be solutions to a sales problem, not a marketing problem.

Easy for Marco Arment to say... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570233)

Marco Arment is as close as you get to an "Apple Insider" outside of Apple. He's in a chosen clique of developers whose work always gets featured in curated lists in the App Store.

"Top lists" are not the problem, curated lists into which developers such as him get a backdoor entry by sucking up to Apple regularly are.

Getting rid of top lists is not the answer, getting rid of curated lists is. Doing so would level the playing field for everyone. If the apps that are currently promoted by Apple truly provide value, people would use them, talk about them, and they would climb up the charts. It's not surprising that a lot of curated apps are also in the top lists.

After all, why wouldn't you let users decide what they want? And if swamping people with high quality content is the goal, then why not let users decide the metrics of quality?

It was broken when it went live (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570285)

when the MARKET doesn't get to determine what they see in the store, the store is broken.

You can stock your shelves with as much cat crap as you want, but people won't buy it and
will eventually quit coming to your store looking for the things they actually want and go to a
competitor...

Take note Apple...folks been hop'n off the bandwagon for years already...

better filterintg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47570401)

I'd also like to filter on which services the app wants acces to. So I could ignore those that want access to my photos or contact list.

Come my fellow picketers. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47570421)

We are the 99.98%!

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