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Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the hammer-and-tweezers dept.

IOS 249

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Given the hundreds of thousands of apps currently on offer, it's hard for any one app (no matter how well designed) to stand out on Apple's App Store, much less stay atop the bestseller charts for very long. In an August 10 blog posting, former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée offered Apple CEO Tim Cook some advice: Let humans curate the App Store. 'Instead of using algorithms to sort and promote the apps that you permit on your shelves, why not assign a small group of adepts to create and shepherd an App Store Guide,' he wrote. 'A weekly newsletter will identify notable new titles, respond to counter-opinions, perhaps present a developer profile, footnote the occasional errata and mea culpa.' Whether or not such an idea would effectively surface all the good content now buried under layers of Flappy Bird rip-offs is an open question; what's certain is that, despite Apple's rosy picture, developers around the world face a lot of uncertainty and competition when it comes to making significant money off their apps. Sure, some developers are making a ton of cash, but the rising tide doesn't necessarily float all boats. If you had the opportunity, how would you revamp/revise/upgrade/adjust/destroy the App Store to better serve the developers who put apps in it?

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Slashdot proves it! (4, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47673499)

Moderation and meta-moderation solve all problems. :/

Re:Slashdot proves it! (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47673645)

Moderation and meta-moderation solve all problems. :/

There is a big difference. I don't make money for insightful comments. But I can make a lot of money from a highly rated app. So there would be a big incentive to game and corrupt the system. A people-based rating system would likely be an improvement, but it would have to be carefully designed to keep it honest.

Re:Slashdot proves it! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 months ago | (#47673825)

No they just need to refine the algorithms, I've been working on a predictive preferences model for the last while which may or may not come to anything, mostly for fun, but it's turning out quite nicely so far. Ratings aren't much use in this day and age and reviews are almost as suspect.

Re:Slashdot proves it! (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47673883)

Sure. Shills would play a larger part in the moderation of potentially "valuable" apps. If you had the possibility of making Candy Crush money, you'd hire armies of Indonesian "reviewers" to "moderate" your apps to the top, but what's the alternative? Use your army of shills to fake download your app as many times as possible and give it five-star ratings?

I enjoy how the Play store does things. Shows me top apps in a number of categories, and shows me some reviewer-picked shakers and movers.

Re:Slashdot proves it! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674451)

If you had the possibility of making Candy Crush money, you'd hire armies of Indonesian "reviewers" to "moderate" your apps to the top,

Are Indonesian reviewers cheaper than the Indians and Pakistanis who've been hired to moderate in Slashdot?

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/... [alexa.com]

Re:Slashdot proves it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674425)

it would have to be carefully designed to keep it honest.

It would have to be taken out of Apple's hands to keep it honest.

Those litigious bastards have money in their eyes, evil in their hearts and trickery in their DNA. The only way to have a trustworthy market is to have it open and its controls transparent.

Re:Slashdot proves it! (2)

Rosyna (80334) | about 2 months ago | (#47674509)

A people-based rating system would likely be an improvement, but it would have to be carefully designed to keep it honest.

I thought Apple already had a people-based rating system [apple.com] . Or does "Editor's Choice" not mean Choice by the Editors?

Re:Slashdot proves it! (1)

Junta (36770) | about 2 months ago | (#47674633)

I don't make money for insightful comments

Looks like someone didn't get the memo...

Don't worry, I can fix it. Just send me your bank account number and your social security number for verification...

Re:Slashdot proves it! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673815)

Moderation and meta-moderation solve all problems. :/

You joke, but I can't figure out what on earth metamoderation even does any more. It used to be checking if a moderation was fair or not, but now it's deciding if a comment is good or bad? To what end? How does that impact Slashdot comments, commenters, or moderators?

Let developers respond to a review ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#47673927)

Moderation would work better if you could hear both sides. Let developers respond to a review like on Google Play.

Many people seem to use reviews as an alternative to contacting customer support. For legit problems there is some fairness in doing so. However there are times when a user is confused and the develop has no way to contact that user. It would also be useful for developers to respond indicating when a real problem is fixed.

Re:Slashdot proves it! (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 2 months ago | (#47674071)

I have a better idea. Why not let app developers create web-sites with information about their apps? Then, e.g., Google could index those web-sites, and this would allow the user to quickly find the app they need. Also, Google's safe search could prevent users from installing the apps they do not want.

Re:Slashdot proves it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674153)

Moderation and meta-moderation solve all problems. :/

Simple close it down lob everything in the trash and force to obnoxious ouiks to name things correctly i mean WTF is an App i understand application or software but app kiss my white hairy butt as like ..
 

to better serve the developers who put apps in it? (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 2 months ago | (#47673505)

wrong/wrong. developers serve.

Re:to better serve the developers who put apps in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673643)

it's hard for any one app (no matter how well designed) to stand out on Apple's App Store, much less stay atop the bestseller charts for very long.

Is this really a problem? Why would users want any particular app to do this?

There's your problem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673521)

If you had the opportunity, how would you revamp/revise/upgrade/adjust/destroy the App Store to better serve the developers

Whup, there's your problem. App Store is not designed to serve developers. It serves Apple. That's all.

I'm sorry, what's the problem being solved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673533)

Is it that I need a weekly newsletter to help me figure out what apps I want to download? Haven't noticed the need as an app store consumer myself.

Is it that I need more choices than what I have now? Haven't noticed a shortage of apps to try and buy, personally.

OH, the feeling is that the app store should be serving the DEVELOPERS, not the CONSUMERS.... Yah, good luck with that - not putting the consumers first and foremost is always a winning business strategy.

I'm sorry, what's the problem being solved? (1)

BarbaraHudson (3785311) | about 2 months ago | (#47674465)

Remember - for most app developers, this is all about making as much sh*t as quickly as possible and throwing at the wall and seeing what sticks. A popular app gets cloned a zillion times. We even have TV shows devoted to apps. Whatever happened to good old word-of-mouth? Make something good, give free samples to a certain segment of the user population, spend some money on marketing, and see what happens? "OMG NO THATS SOOO MUCH EXTRA WORK".

Permissions (5, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 months ago | (#47673537)

I would aggressively punish apps that demand overly broad access to your data.

Re:Permissions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673579)

WAHHHHH!!!

Two things.... (2, Interesting)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 months ago | (#47673565)

1. Remove Apple from having it's name on the App Store (or just allow anybody to set up their own store)

2. Removing Apple's 100% control of what apps are listed (Or just allow anybody to set up their own store)

Having an APP rating system might be nice, one where users rate the app for content similar to video games as well as a user overall satisfaction score. However, just doing the first two things would fix it.

But we all know Apple won't forgo the revenue stream and will NEVER give up editorial control because now it requires rooting your phone and voiding the warranty to set up any app store besides Apple's.

So I guess, it's really just one thing... Allow anybody to set up their own store and not require user to root their device to load apps from it.

Two things.... (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 2 months ago | (#47673615)

How can Apple retain total, maniacal control by giving up some control?

Re:Two things.... (0)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 months ago | (#47673741)

How can Apple retain total, maniacal control by giving up some control?

What do you want to do? Sell devices or make money on apps?

For Apple Both I know... It's a profit thing.

Re:Two things.... (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 2 months ago | (#47674355)

What do you want to do? Sell devices or make money on apps?

What if you'd asked Edwin Land the same question in 1972?

What do you want to do? Sell Polaroid cameras or make money on instant film?

Re:Two things.... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 months ago | (#47674135)

Actually, I would adjust this slightly.

First, as Apple, I would take a weed whacker to the store and remove huge swaths of duplicate applications. I'd pick three to five apps for a particular category, based on the product and the developers' fealty to Apple. Apple doesn't want developers just dumping applications. Apple wants their customers to have a support mechanism for apps, they want the developers to quickly support iOS updates, etc. So the idea is that having your iOS App in Apple's App Store is a badge of honor for all of the various Apple users out there. Apple will also assist with marketing.

What about everything else?

Second, introduce side-loading. Apple might think your app sucks, but you believe in it. So you can sign a deal with a different non-Apple-labeled store. Or you can distribute it yourself. You'd still have to sign the application with a certificate from Apple creating, in theory, a paper trail if something goes wrong. Users might also get the appropriate warnings ("You're running an app from the Internet that could trash your phone, eat your children, and destroy the universe. Are you really really sure you want to do something so dangerous?") to try to...uh..."warn" them of the potential issues.

So, yes, you can sell your strip poker game, fart box, smuggle illegal immigrants game, or whatever App you see fit. Apple gets it's $99 from the developer for appropriate certificates but Apple doesn't get any of the action from sales.

Re:Two things.... (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 2 months ago | (#47673657)

The rating system would be gamed even more than Googl's PageRank system. Too much money at stake.

Re:Two things.... (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 months ago | (#47673669)

My girlfriend has an iPad, and she uses alternative app stores. They just curate the apps in Apple's store and link to it for the actual install and download, but she says the one she uses (sorry, it's Chinese, I can't remember the name) makes it much easier to find stuff than Apple's because it has social integration, so she can see what her friends use and rate highly.

Google does the same thing with Play. If people you know on G+ rate apps highly or post about them they are more likely to appear in your suggested apps. It's kinda like what TFA suggests, human beings selecting apps, but doesn't cost Google anything and is tailored to the individual.

Re:Two things.... (5, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47673679)

1. Remove Apple from having it's name on the App Store (or just allow anybody to set up their own store)

2. Removing Apple's 100% control of what apps are listed (Or just allow anybody to set up their own store)

Neither suggestion solves any of the problems listed.

Re:Two things.... (1, Interesting)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 months ago | (#47673783)

Oh yea they do, (actually IT does). Apple's app store suffers from one really obvious flaw, it's 100% controlled by Apple and not subject to any kind of competition. They religiously guard this control.

A little bit of competition would spurn on innovation in the App market and how they are loaded and sold, which was the point I was trying to make.

Re:Two things.... (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47673985)

None of which addresses the actual problems listed.

You're just sticking your own biases for how things should be run, probably as someone who doesn't even use the platform, with a bogus problem that doesn't exist - there is no lack of innovation in iOS apps.

Re:Two things.... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 months ago | (#47674011)

Never complained about the apps myself, only what it costs to get one into the store, market it and sell it. Well, I did complain once that making me buy an Apple computer to actually develop apps wasn't appreciated either, but it's been a few years since I looked at that so somebody might have changed it.

Any FOSS app development environments out there that don't require OSx to run?

Re:Two things.... (1)

BarbaraHudson (3785311) | about 2 months ago | (#47674515)

There are plenty of FOSS app development environments that don't require OSX to develop - along with the fact that the resulting apps don't require iOS to run either. Why bother paying to develop for the #2 platform (12% sales) when you can develop for the #1 platform (85% sales) for free?

Re:Two things.... (2, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 2 months ago | (#47673913)

And introduces a whole lot of new ones. People rail against Apple's control over app store listings, but it really does go a long way to significantly reducing the amount of malware users get exposed to. Not all of it, to be sure, but most of it.

They could probably allow a bit more freedom by still curating their own app store, and forbidden alternate app stores, but allowing some form of manual side-loading that is sufficiently non-automated to ensure people don't get tricked into installing malware.

Re:Two things.... (2)

mlts (1038732) | about 2 months ago | (#47673687)

I wouldn't mind the ability to sideload apps (one can do this in a limited fashion already)... but what will happen is that a Dancing Pigs 0-day will happen, Joe Sixpack and Jane Sertraline will follow the directions that the rogue website gives to download the .ipa file, load it in, then one can view the bouncing bunnies.

Some websites which are set up to exploit any device they can already try this with apk files for Android and .deb files for jailbroken iPhones. I'm sure there are people who will download them because they are called "security updates", enable sideloading, and then install the files.

Of course, after the sideload, their phone gets compromised, and they then hit the lawyers and press and blame Apple for allowing them to step out of the walled garden.

Re:Two things.... (2)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 months ago | (#47673757)

Of course, after the sideload, their phone gets compromised, and they then hit the lawyers and press and blame Apple for allowing them to step out of the walled garden.

Remind me again who's fault it is when an app is able to bypass operating system enforced jail and gains global access?

Seeing as OS vendors are never held liable for their security failures the scenario you paint is hard to take seriously.

Re:Two things.... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47673737)

You forgot (3), de-ice Hell.

Apple is never going to voluntarily let people out of the walled garden.

Re:Two things.... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 months ago | (#47673827)

You forgot (3), de-ice Hell.

Apple is never going to voluntarily let people out of the walled garden.

There is that. Yes, I know, Apple will not give up control until the marketplace can pry control of the App Store out of their cold dead hands. Which is my point. Apple having 100% control is the problem, squashing innovation and competition in how App Store's work. If there was a competitor in the App Store market, you can bet there would be a lot of new ideas out there that fixed the issues discussed, and issues we don't even know about yet.

Re:Two things.... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47673897)

Are you sure?

On the Android side, Amazon's app-store certainly had an impact, but it didn't cause the Play store to make any paradigm shifting moves, and F-Droid is barely a curiosity.

Re:Two things.... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 months ago | (#47673987)

Yet on my droid, I have used all three of these App sources. How you can say Google's store didn't benefit from Amazon's competing? Problem is, we will never know if it helped or not.

Re:Two things.... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47674213)

I didn't say that it did or didn't benefit.

I said it didn't cause a paradigm shift in the way the Play store works.

I don't understand your concern (2)

Brannon (221550) | about 2 months ago | (#47673919)

1. There's nothing stopping someone from creating their own curated portal which links directly to the per-app download page within Apple's App store. These portals could have reviews & social media or whatever. Why haven't these sorts of portals emerged?

2. Android doesn't have the walled garden--are the Android app stores wildly easier to use or better at promoting good vs. bad content?

Re:I don't understand your concern (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47674621)

The major benefit of Play, at least to me, is the integration with +1 actions from people in my circles.

I know what my friends liked.

Re:Two things.... (4, Insightful)

unimacs (597299) | about 2 months ago | (#47673835)

The reason the App store and perhaps even the iPhone itself was such a success is because there is only one place you need to go to find Apps. And although many on Slashdot complain about the "Walled Garden", having an App store run by Apple itself provides some assurance to the customer that the App is legit and not some form of malware.

Is it perfect in that regard? No.

I'm not sure. What revenue stream does the App store have? I mean other than the $99 annual developer fee. Is that what you meant? The developer tools themselves are free. I used to spend hundreds on development tools and upgrades so I guess I'm not bothered much by the $99. I can play around with the tools and creating apps as much as I want without spending a dime. It's only when I want to put an app on actual device that I need to spend the money.

Re:Two things.... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 2 months ago | (#47674053)

. I can play around with the tools and creating apps as much as I want without spending a dime. It's only when I want to put an app on actual device that I need to spend the money.

You already had the OSx running Apple device then?

For me, I don't have an Apple computer to develop on, so I'd be out buying hardware/software first. The $99 only gives you the privilege of trying to get an app into the store and give it away. You are right, it's not much. But if you want to sell your app, Apple takes a pretty big bite from the proceeds to process the credit cards and such and sending the rest on to you.

Re:Two things.... (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 months ago | (#47674625)

You already had the OSx running Apple device then?

It's OS X, not OSx, you might want to at least learn the name.

Apple takes a pretty big bite from the proceeds to process the credit cards and such and sending the rest on to you.

... 30% is standard in pretty much every retail industry, and the fact that you think its a lot shows you've not actually done anything like this yourself or you'd know that for a $1 app, 0.30 is cheap considering you'll probably be paying at least $0.25 in credit card fees alone.

So you've illustrated that all your concerns are that of someone who is ignorant of the way the process works.

Re:Two things.... (4, Insightful)

stoborrobots (577882) | about 2 months ago | (#47674531)

What revenue stream does the App store have?

Taking 30% commission out of everything you sell via the app store and in-app?

Re:Two things.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673843)

1. Will never happen. Apple didn't get to be the strongest brand in the world by letting anybody dilute it. I don't care if you think this is a good or a bad thing. It is what it is and I don't see it ever changing.

2. I disagree strongly. Apple's control over it's app market is one of the few things keeping it (mostly) safe. While not perfect, it's a far cry from the stygian hell that is the play store. 3/4s of what you find on the play store I would call malware outright. I gladly recommended apple products to non-technical users because at the very least I know there are measures keeping the truly nasty shitware away. When your users are the technical equivalent of retarded toddlers that impulsively jam forks in to every electrical outlet they see, you need something like the apple store.

Personally, I use an iPhone because it's simple and it works and there is broad support from nearly ever vendor on the planet. I fire it up every day and it does what I want. Updates are regular and painless. I can play around with fancy trendy shit, and turn it off when I don't care about it. It's an appliance.

  Apple's security model where you grant applications privileges at the time of request is vastly superior to the grant-at-install-forever model that android uses. (Google may implement this, but it will break a whole lot of apps)

I use an android tablet, a linux workstation, a windows game computer I built myself, and a whole lot of other computing devices. Those are fine and fun geeky things and I enjoy doing those things. The phone, though, is something I can always rely on. I don't have to fuck around with 3rd party stores, what version of the OS i'm running, care about my screen size, or put up with preloaded and un-removable carrier shitware, or rooting my device.

Sometimes less is more.

Re:Two things.... (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 months ago | (#47674251)

2. I disagree strongly. Apple's control over it's app market is one of the few things keeping it (mostly) safe. While not perfect, it's a far cry from the stygian hell that is the play store. 3/4s of what you find on the play store I would call malware outright

This is like saying improvements in Google search algorithms are responsible for reducing total garbage in search results while neglecting to understand Google's business model is actually funding production of the same garbage they claim to be fighting.

In the very same way structure of the market itself is generating crap. If you get rid of the app stores and allow a functioning market driven by *CONSUMER DEMAND* the garbage goes away on its own.

Regarding safety operating system enforced jailing of the execution environment while a very difficult problem is at least achievable. Validating general purpose apps to be harmless is well beyond current technical capability of humanity.

Re:Two things.... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 months ago | (#47673943)

Funny your suggestions already exist. Any phone can go against any server via. downloading an alternative profile and that server can have its own app distribution. https://developer.apple.com/pr... [apple.com]

It doesn't require rooting your phone. So yes Apple not only could do this, they do it now and have for years.

Re: Two things.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674019)

Ah yes. Worked wonder for Android ... in gaining malware.

Want to side load apps : use Android or jailbreak iOS. Done.

The walled garden might be "the evil" for some (FSF cultists, etc) but at the end of the day, for millions of people it is much better and keeps their devices safe. And that's far more important than to be able to install shady crap.

Note : there are far more non-geek people than geeks.

Not Apple's Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673575)

Why is the burden on Apple? If you want better marketing for your apps then figure out a way to advertise your product just like everyone else does. Do not try to lean on Apple to advertise your product because they (probably) don't care about you.

Re: Not Apple's Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673875)

I advertise on my blog.
Google directs the web to my blog.
Having a direct link from content of interest to my app on the AppStore means I don't ever need a high profile on apples store. I don't even need to be indexed and searchable.

I find users by letting google bring them to me.

Liability (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673609)

The second you hand storefront management over to a human you open yourself up to a million lawsuits from people alleging unfair business practices.

Re:Liability (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#47673677)

A shame I commented, because I'd moderate this up.

There's a reason that large corporations and governments are faceless, and soulless. Lawsuits. Treat anyone or anything outside of a documented formula, and *whammo!*, lawsuit.

I like the idea of moderation and meta-moderation still, however, in at least you can say, "Hey, wasn't us. Sue *them*."

Re:Liability (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47673703)

You can't sue a store for preferring one product over another, for their own reasons. It's standard practice for all stores to do so.

Hey Apple, U got problems? I got solutions! (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 months ago | (#47673653)

Allow and encourage third parties to run their own app stores. Make it easy for users to add competing app stores to their phones just like they can add "search providers" to their web browsers.

Support side loading applications without ANY limitations.

Provide options for filtering search results by app demands for permissions. These options should be long term set and forget knobs which do not require constant attention while searching the store.

Fragment the heck out of any rankings don't just have one global rank create tens of thousands of views able to be influenced by a smaller subset of overall user base. This lets word of mouth rather than momentum dominate global trends.

Re:Hey Apple, U got problems? I got solutions! (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47673719)

Allow and encourage third parties to run their own app stores. Make it easy for users to add competing app stores to their phones just like they can add "search providers" to their web browsers.

This doesn't solve the problems listed, it makes them worse. By having multiple stores you decrease each apps visibility, unless the developers do much more work to list their apps in every store. Taking time that would otherwise be devoted to developing more or better apps.

Re:Hey Apple, U got problems? I got solutions! (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 2 months ago | (#47673817)

This doesn't solve the problems listed, it makes them worse. By having multiple stores you decrease each apps visibility, unless the developers do much more work to list their apps in every store. Taking time that would otherwise be devoted to developing more or better apps.

I don't agree, Basil. More app stores means more/different lists of most "popular" apps, and more diverse bodies of users who will be looking for something different. It's not very Apple, but it is true. Does this mean developers have to choose which market/appstore to be sweet to? Yes. This is simply "humans" managing the App store, as Tim Cook pretended to propose. He meant "Apple employees who do what we tell them," but we are suggesting more truly independently run App stores.

You seem to be pursuing a dream where Apple drives customers to independent Apps. That was a fine dream when iOS was fledgling. Now, it's a behemoth. New stores, new markets, new risks, new rewards for new developers.

Re:Hey Apple, U got problems? I got solutions! (1)

unimacs (597299) | about 2 months ago | (#47673899)

Why can't you just have different places supply different ratings, - maybe even specialize in certain types of app, but the apps themselves still come from the same store?

Re:Hey Apple, U got problems? I got solutions! (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47673925)

It was Jean-Louis Gassée proposing. He's not worked for Apple since the 80s or 90s - before he created Be and BeOS.

I think this is an issue of the paradox of choice. There's already too much chose facing consumers. Multiple stores only multiply the choice, making it harder still.

Your suggestion of mode/different lists is already possible and already done. The lists don't have to be on the store - they only have to link to it.

You seem to be pursuing a dream where Apple drives customers to independent Apps.

Not at all. Developers have to take control of their own marketing. But multiple stores just add to the amount of work needed, whilst delivering no benefit.

Re:Hey Apple, U got problems? I got solutions! (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 months ago | (#47674035)

This doesn't solve the problems listed, it makes them worse. By having multiple stores you decrease each apps visibility, unless the developers do much more work to list their apps in every store. Taking time that would otherwise be devoted to developing more or better apps.

Let me ask you another question. In the real world here on earth do you think we would all be better off if all stores and malls were replaced by a single entity offering one global channel with one set of take it or leave it rules for buyers and sellers?

What makes the app environment different? Why is one channel for apps viewed as acceptable yet any talk of making a single entity like Amazon or Umbrella Corp the one only channel for purchase of physical goods viewed as lunacy of the highest order?

What really holds back app stores and the platform in general is placing the OS vendors, developers and carriers above the users and resulting market distortions caused by having control and extracting value across the whole channel.

In a world of multiple app stores distribution channels would naturally arise allowing interested venues to pick up apps which best serve their customers creating an environment where word of mouth and popular demand controls distribution rather than shady algorithms or the jackass with the spyware app who successfully suckered a few million people into downloading it.

Lots of app developers hate this because most of them by volume are in fact bottom feeders who seek to collect payment without doing much to provide value in return and an honest to god real functioning market would put an end to their bullshit.

Do nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673655)

I would do nothing to fix it because there is nothing broken with it.

Drop the idea of "top apps" entirely (0)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 months ago | (#47673671)

Instead of arbitrarily promoting one application over another, let users rate the applications on how well they conform to providing vertical functions that they claim to. So instead of being based on number of downloads or anything arbitrary like that, it's based on how well it provides functionality.

Of course that takes away from the focus of it being a "store" and focuses on the services the apps can provide, which is probably the direct opposite of what a money-grubbing corporation wants to do.

Then again there is the question of how one can rate the "quality" and "functionality" of a fart-noise app... :P :P :P

Re:Drop the idea of "top apps" entirely (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 months ago | (#47673683)

See SourceForge.net and the now-defunct FreeCode for examples.

Re:Drop the idea of "top apps" entirely (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 months ago | (#47674169)

Apps get reviewed by users and have a star rating for their functionality. That already happens.

Apps as media - parallels to iTunes (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 2 months ago | (#47673705)

Apple's current approach seems to parallel what they're doing with iTunes which really favors the labels over the artists. What they should look at is, instead, creating a community for social discovery and interaction - in short, what Amazon has done a fairly good job of (all review systems have faults and can be gamed, but it's clear that the average App Store review is generally of a lower quality than your average Amazon product review).

While I do like seeing "featured" stuff, I also like seeing what others buy based on what I bought, and whether there are any reviews.

Part of this may revolve around making reviews more seamless [1] while also putting down the ban-hammer on apps that have fake/bought reviews.

Also, I'd suggest Apple also adopt a "return period" - they support this for some jurisdictions (S.Korea? HK? I forget).

Absent this kind of reform, the App Store is simply a device for pushing the interests of publishers, not developers, let alone users.

[1] https://medium.com/@hliriani/r... [medium.com]

Gassée's suggestions aren't bad, but... (2)

unimacs (597299) | about 2 months ago | (#47673733)

It would inevitably lead to some developers of accusing Apple of playing favorites.

What they could do instead (or in addition) is allow 3rd parties to easily obtain information on the most recent submissions, upgrades, etc and let them supply users with information on what is new and noteworthy.

It's good for Apple to surface really valuable apps, but it's not their job to do the marketing for every developer nor to make sure that everyone turns a profit. They've made a huge change in the industry by making virtually all the apps available for a popular platform available from a single place. This has had both positive and negative effects on developers. It was great for awhile when there weren't that many developers and all it took to get your app in front of millions was to submit it. Now your app is competing with hundreds of thousands of others.

It could simply be that the market is saturated and no amount of App store revamping is really going to fix that.

Major Change in Business Model? (1)

sehlat (180760) | about 2 months ago | (#47673739)

Apple is famous for two things:

1. Having a walled garden.

2. Cultivating the wall and leaving the garden to fend for itself.

Possibly mimic GoodReads, which Amazon uses to great effect as a marketing and curation tool?

Letting the App developers take more of the gelt home would also help. More of them might
be able to support themselves instead of feeding the iMaw.

Remove old apps. (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47673773)

There are apps that were put up years ago, presumably were not much of a success, and remain, never updated. All they do is clutter the store up, and make it harder to find the good, up-to date stuff. They should be removed. It's not obvious how...

Perhaps when sales have faded to almost nothing. Perhaps remove any that are still using deprecated APIs.
Perhaps remove any that are not using iOS 7 design features.
Perhaps increase the yearly charge for being on the store... maybe decoupling it from the charge to be a developer. And make the charge per app, such that no hoper apps are voluntarily given up.

Re:Remove old apps. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674021)

Apps are delisted if the developer stops paying their iOS developer fee of $99/year. Theoretically that should remove most non-serious apps, leaving only developers that hope to make at least $99 back per year.

Extra Credits Just Covered This Topic (1)

The Raven (30575) | about 2 months ago | (#47673775)

They did a report on Too Many Games [youtube.com] , which was really about bad store UIs. Steam is the 'least bad' of the biggies, but that's not saying much.

Thanks Marx (1)

melchoir55 (218842) | about 2 months ago | (#47673809)

This approach fails for the same reason communism cannot work (yet). A small group of humans lacks the understanding, wisdom, foresight, and a whole host of other epistemic terms to decide how to organize and prioritize within such a vast system. What they do will work for some people. It will utterly fail for others. The only way to deal with something like this is to have a computer to it (same with communism, btw). I won't defend Apple's algorithms. They probably need a lot of work. Maybe the organization scheme needs to be changed. Whatever. The fix won't be having some humans do it.

Use the internet (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 months ago | (#47673831)

There are any number of sites that rate and recommend apps. But I doubt anyone takes those recommendations seriously any more than they would take recommendations from Apple staffers. Everyone knows money talks...

what I want ... (1)

nblender (741424) | about 2 months ago | (#47673837)

I want radio buttons I can use to drill down my search...

sort by what permissions they're after.
sort by what percentage of people are still using the app after having downloaded it.
sort by price
sort by in-app purchases or not
etc ...

SEARCHABILITY (5, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | about 2 months ago | (#47673865)

The biggest problem both the App Store and the Play Store have is searchability. There is no way to filter on anything other than high-level category and keyword, and whatever the result-based ranking algorithms on both stores uses, is horrible, always returning junk and crap instead of what you really want.

This makes finding the kinds of apps you want even when you KNOW what you are looking for EXTREMELY ANNOYING AND OVERLY DIFFICULT, way more so than it has to be.

It is very ironic that Google whose main business is search can not cobble together the resources to make a decent search for Android over the past 5 years.

Re:SEARCHABILITY (2)

mfearby (1653) | about 2 months ago | (#47674085)

Amen to that, brother! The search is terrible. We need the ability to sort by popularity, download count, most recent first or last, etc. And when you click the back button to go back a page, actually go back to the page as I had it previously, not a collapsed version of the category I was looking at. I HATE looking in the App Store for apps due to the cornucopia of rubbish. The crap to quality ratio is very high, alas.

Re:SEARCHABILITY (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674385)

Their main business is collecting data and selling ads. Their main MEANS by which they accomplish this is their search engine.

Better categories (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 2 months ago | (#47673911)

I think the app store should be organized for hundreds of thousands of applications better categorized. In particular searching by verticals, searching by interconnections to other applications, searching by level of sales... Mostly though I think the app store works pretty well the issue for most applications is they are yet another version of something for which better apps exist. The problem app developers are having is they aren't going after verticals which is where they should be in a more mature market.

The basic problem is (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 2 months ago | (#47673917)

The basic complaint of the poster seems to be that in a store of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of titles, only a very small number ever get discovered and successful. Huge numbers of very worthy apps never get a chance.

That problem can't be solved by any reasonable reorganization. We users (I use the Play store, but the same situation applies) have only so many minutes of time to spend looking for and using new stuff. However you make new apps visible to users, you're punishing apps that would have been visible otherwise. Competing for user attention time is a zero-sum game.

The Play store "people you know" ratings are surprisingly helpful. Unlike general user ratings this is not easy to game by the developers. But of course, those people may only have tested that one app because it was already more popular already.

I guess the only way to really fix it is to show each user only a random 0.1% subset of all apps. That would give every app a good chance of being seen and tried. But it would rather annoy all those people looking for irritated avians and not finding them.

Make App Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673975)

an app that you install from the app store.

Re: Make App Store (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47673991)

applestore'adox

Why is this Apple's problem? (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 2 months ago | (#47673979)

When Wal-Mart decides to sell a new brand of dish soap, it isn't their job to ensure the product is a smashing success. All Wal-Mart cares about is that when you need dish soap, Wal-Mart is where you buy it; it doesn't really matter to them which one you buy. If DishSoapCo is depending on Wal-Mart to convince consumers to buy their soap, they will be sorely disappointed. (Of course, with no marketing plan, Wal-Mart is unlikely to carry the product to begin with, but that's because they have limited shelf space; the App store has no such limitation.)

In the same vein, as long as you keep buying devices and apps from Apple, they don't really care which ones you buy. Developers that are relying on nothing more than the App Store storefront to do their marketing for them are probably not going to succeed, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Re:Why is this Apple's problem? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 months ago | (#47674055)

If that were true, Apple wouldn't run the Apple Design Awards.

Re:Why is this Apple's problem? (1)

dave562 (969951) | about 2 months ago | (#47674101)

At the same time, companies pay premiums for shelf placement. I have never been into a Wal-Mart and are not familiar with their operations, but I know for certain that this is how it works in large chain grocery stores. The shelves higher or lower than eye level cost less than the ones right at eye level. Similarly, in the cereal eye the companies pay more to have their sugar laden cereals on the lower shelves so that they are at eye level for children.

It would be interesting to see if Apple eventually allows developers to pay for preferential placement. I do not see why they would not. Everyone else pays for eyeballs, whether it is on Facebook or CNN.com

And if you think small devs are upset now... (3, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about 2 months ago | (#47674143)

If you think small-time developers are upset now, I can only imagine how furious they would be if Apple started doing "pay for play". BillyBobIndy would have even less of a chance to make it.

Really, Apple wouldn't make that much money from it, and the reputational costs would be too great. I could see a "sponsored" category being set up, but nothing beyond that.

Re:And if you think small devs are upset now... (1)

dave562 (969951) | about 2 months ago | (#47674643)

I agree. Short term it is not going to happen. It goes against their marketing of people being free to create for/with Apple products.

But "never" is a very long time.

How did micorsoft 'solve' this problem? (1)

Maxwell (13985) | about 2 months ago | (#47674075)

For 20 years we had nothing but Microsoft (DOS, Windows) on PC's and somehow we survived. Now we need someone to curate the app store? Why not submit your app for review, like in the olden days? The reviewing, rating and recommending of apps should be a separate function than publishing...

"Small group of adepts..." (1)

dave562 (969951) | about 2 months ago | (#47674081)

Because working for Apple is an intense spiritual discipline.

My 2 cents... which is worth -25 cents (1)

downright (1625607) | about 2 months ago | (#47674113)

duh... subcategories... if you click on business apps to see the top 48... if you click see all you are dumped into paginated view 2212 apps... with the option to sort by name or release date... well thanks for nothing...

also

* White text on gray buttons is hard to read
* gray text on gray background is hard to read
* reflections on star ratings looks more busy than neat
* truncated... app titles should be revealed on hover or should wrap instead of truncating
* videos demonstrating features ... tired of finding out that the UI doesn't behave in a rational way or that the screen shots and description didn't accurately explain how the app works.

Nerval's Lobster (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 2 months ago | (#47674123)

Nerval's Lobster needs to die. How would you go about killing this fuck?

Let's see, just at the top six nuisances... (1)

pla (258480) | about 2 months ago | (#47674137)

#1, quit requiring an Apple/iTunes login to download free apps. Which Apple will never do.
#2, filter by "free". Which Apple will never do.
#3, filter by "requests no privileges not directly related to its function". Which Apple will also never do.
#4, just give me a damned list of apps ordered by price and rating, instead of making me swipe through every...single...hit on my search.
#5, quit disallowing apps just because they compete with your own crApple. I don't like most of the native apps.
#6, make 50% of all ratings directly based on what percent of users (try to) uninstall it within the first week.

Allow me to use it from a browser (1)

gregmac (629064) | about 2 months ago | (#47674149)

I absolutely love that I can use Google Play from my PC: I read an article about or otherwise find a link to an app that sounds interesting, and I can click "Install" from there, it asks me which device (I have an android tablet and phone) and then .. that's it, it's installed within a few seconds.

With Apple, all I see is a button "Open in iTunes". I barely use my iPod touch anymore, but last I tried you basically had to re-find the app on the store ON THE DEVICE to install it, or plug it in with a USB cable. Is that still the only way to install things?

Suggest a Tag/Rate system (1)

uslurper (459546) | about 2 months ago | (#47674159)

The rating system on app stores are waaaayyy too generic.
And considering 90% of all the apps get like 4.5 stars, the ratings are comepletly useless.
The top downloaded lists are much better, but that makes it near impossible for a new app to get any attention.

When you are looking for apps, you usually are looking for something specific.

For example, I was looking for a professional drawing/painting tool for my kid.
About 99.999% of these apps are more like coloring books for kids.
While there were some very nice tools, none on the top 100 downloaded had the right mix I was looking for.
And some had many of the features i wanted, but were severely lacking in implementation.

A good example may be to compare two top-rated drawing apps.
They are both highly rated and have a ton of downloads, but one is geared for kids and one is geared for professional.
Which app is 'best' for me depends on what I am actually looking for. If I want something for my 6-year old to finger-paint with, I definately do NOT want the pro tools.

I think Apple and Google should driving developers to produce better apps instead of more apps.
And the best apps should be sitting on the top of the hill.

One way I would suggest would be to have a Tag/Rating system. This would allow developers to tag their apps with all the different features they want.
Then users could rate each tag separately.

So for example a drawing app could have a tag for a blur tool (among others). Users could then give a rating specifically for that feature.

Prospective downloaders could then search for apps with that specific set of features and compare apps side by side.
search for: Drawing/painting apps
pick from most tagged:
kids
professional Total score: 20

App2
professional - 4
color picker - 4
layers - 2
bucket fill - 4
brushes - 3
Blurr tool - 4
>Total score: 21

This would help developers compete by showing them what people are looking for, and where there apps need improvement.

Also, there is much logic that could be added beyond the ratings. -How often are apps USED as opposed to downloaded?
Do certain reviewers give blanket 10's? And many ways to get new apps rated.. Can I (automatically) get a free copy of this new app if I agree to rate it?

Re:Suggest a Tag/Rate system (1)

uslurper (459546) | about 2 months ago | (#47674221)

hmm my example did not display properly. So much for plain text.

Trying again:

Prospective downloaders could then search for apps with that specific set of features and compare apps side by side.
search for: Drawing/painting apps
pick from most tagged:
kids
professional *
easy
color picker *
layers *
bucket fill *
brushes *
Blurr tool *
share on facebook
(and more)

App1
professional - 4
color picker - 5
layers - 3
bucket fill - 4
brushes - 3
Blurr tool - 1
-Total score: 20

App2
professional - 4
color picker - 4
layers - 2
bucket fill - 4
brushes - 3
Blurr tool - 4
-Total score: 21

Yeah, right... (3, Funny)

sootman (158191) | about 2 months ago | (#47674239)

Your post advocates a

( ) technical
( ) legislative
(x) market-based
( ) vigilante

approach to fixing the app store. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work.

(x) Apple is doing quite well these days, thankyouverymuch, and doesn't really give a shit how you think they should be run. (You, in general, public at large, and probably you, in particular, JLG.)

(x) Scammy developers will pay people in 4th-world countries to say their app is great.

(x) Probably a bunch more reasons that I don't have the energy to think up this second.

App expiry dates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674245)

Enforce a mandatory expiry date for any app. It gets reset when the app is updated by the author. Thus getting rid of the millions of orphan apps cluttering up the bottom of the barrel.

ap store vs. repositories (0)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 2 months ago | (#47674263)

I love Apt. I love the whole Debian package system. I look at App Stores as a hard to search and uninformative version of the Debian package system, that's filled to the brim with Really Stupid Apps.

There are over 1 million apps in the Apple App Store! Most of which are utterly useless....

I don't think it CAN be done better. The App store is viewed as a get rich quick scheme, and hence is flooded with CRAP. Everyone reinvents the wheel. There are probably 10,000 flashlight apps, and most of them are just harvesting your data.

Garbage in, garbage out.... I suppose they could make the ratings based on how LONG you keep the app. Removing the ratings from the hands of Humans and making it based on how often an app is uninstalled, that'd be a good step.

Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674349)

As much as I hate Apple products, I suggest do it with a can of gasoline and a match!

Better search, categorization and more App detail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674553)

Whenever I search for an app that does something, the results are always buried in a thousand pissy little games. I want to be able to exclude/include entire categories.

More and better categories.

More info on what you're getting before you shell out. You should be able to preview the App right there in the App store.

We've already seen how to do this right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47674593)

"How would you go about it?"

Forget all about ratings and recommendations and "top" lists. The problem of people talking to each other, people publishing opinions, etc is already covered elsewhere. If you try to re-invent the wheel, you might not fail, but in the rare case where you succeed (you invent the next email or the next usenet or the next web) app stores won't be on your mind anyway.

You don't go to the theater to get movie recommendations, do you? You don't go to McDonalds and then decide, "Aha, I know: I'll have a hamburger." And you don't type "apt-get install " and hit tab to decide which app will solve your problem. In 2014 we have a thing called "the web."

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