There is no shortage of “best of” lists when it comes to iPhone apps. In addition to the storefront’s own popularity ratings, persistent surfers can find the 35 best apps of 2009 (through August), the best apps for Christmas and many, many more. But enVIO Networks is hoping to use social recommendations to separate the wheat from the chaff in Apple’s 100,000-plus-deep storefront. And in trying to solve the growing problem of discoverability in mobile app stores, it’s blazing a trail that other developers are sure to follow.
The Andover, Mass.-based startup surfaced last month with Chorus, an app that enables consumers to see what apps their friends are using and to make and share recommendations. While enVIO has yet to say how many users have downloaded Chorus, the company claims it saw “thousands of user interactions” in its first month with more than 25,000 purchase and download attempts.
enVIO trotted out November’s most-recommended apps today, unveiling a list that generally consists of familiar titles like Shazam, Gowalla, Loopt and Google Earth. At the top of the list, though, is Eliminate Pro, a slick-looking first-person shooter that takes advantage of Apple’s recent addition of in-app purchase functionality to allow users to spend real money and increase energy levels. Those recommendations haven’t been enough to boost Eliminate Pro into the top 10 list of Chorus-inspired app purchases — not yet, anyway — but they’re a refreshing alternative to the “most popular” standard by which App Store offerings are generally measured. And they’re a solid indication that developers themselves may solve the problem of discoverability that is already plaguing the app store space.