While the media enjoyed the conflict fest between Apple and Google, the conflict itself became a distraction. Yes, the approval process needs to be totally revamped – our Inquisitor iPhone app spent six frustrating weeks in the approval process. But there are core App Store issues like poor discoverability, installation (needlessly cumbersome), and a strategy for web apps that are key to the success of AppStore yet mostly ignored.
These embarrassing numbers from the Android marketplace serve as a reminder; developing a thriving mobile application ecosystem is really hard. No other company has all the tools (hardware, software, marketing, global footprint) to bring about the revolution in mobile we are witnessing, and the App Store is a key component of this revolution. If it fails then it risks shifting power back to carriers. Apple knows how to creatively move products into their next phase (e.g. iPod becoming a feature of the iPhone), and the time has come for Apple to move the App Store into its next phase with:
1.) App Discovery Revolution:
If you can’t find it, it does not exist. There are hundreds of great apps not being used and enjoyed because of the poor App discovery tools.
- Provide App Store data feed including number of downloads, aggregate reviews, and snippets of individual reviews to help third party discovery sites blossom.
- “Genius” for Apps. Genius algorithms needs to be vastly improved, steal a page from Netflix and throw open a $2M competition to improve Genius.
- Search. This topic deserves its own post, but very quickly the federated approach is broken.
2.) Dead Simple App Installation
Getting an App onto my phone from my computer is a massive hassle that includes connecting cables. I find it odd that I can remote wipe my phone but I can’t install an app remotely. One-Click Remote Install would bring a frictionless install process. Here is how it works, from any web page when I click on “Get this App” rather then opening iTunes the process would
- Open a widget, inline web form, etc. where I authenticate with my AppleId
- If its a paid App confirm payment.
- Send a notification to my phone to install the app.
- Next time I grab my phone a small notification appears reminding me that it installed the app.
Rather then flowing all transactions back into iTunes provide the tools to enable distributed transactions.
3.) Expand App Store for Web Apps
Why do I have to write a product in Objective-C in order to monetize it. Lots of valuable web apps optimized for the iPhone webkit browser are struggling to generate meaningful revenues via ads or don’t have time to deal with hassles of PayPal. These web developers are looking for distribution and monetization, while Apple is looking to keep web developers within the Apple tent. This solves both parties problem.
4.) Tough Blocking and Tackling (i.e. Better Developer Tools)
This is the blocking and tackling component to the ecosystem. Developer tools don’t make headlines but they are the tools that we use everyday: xCode, iTunes Connect, and the App Developer Portal are all beautiful yet frustrating and limiting tools.