According to some reports, there are now 300,000 apps available for iOS devices. Whether or not the number is actually there yet, it will be soon, and that’s an impressive feat for Apple. But is it the best thing for Apple consumers and iOS developers?


Some sources report that there are now 300,000 apps available for iOS devices. Whether or not the number is actually there yet, it will be soon, and that’s an impressive feat for Apple. But is it the best thing for Apple consumers and iOS developers?

Granted, it’s an amazing rate of growth, especially considering that Apple announced the 250,000 app milestone only recently. It shows that despite the rising influence of Android, developers still like Apple’s platform best, if only because its ability to make money stands on much more solid ground.

Too Much Choice

While I appreciate the wealth of choice offered by the App Store, I do think these library size milestones are getting slightly out of hand. 300,000? What does that level of selection even mean to the average consumer? At this point, the number has everything to do with impressing stockholders, and very little to do with pleasing consumers and/or developers.

I propose Apple do something shocking: Now that they’ve reached a library size that its closest competitors could only dream of, why not go about significantly reducing that number? The App Store already has a reputation as a walled garden, so why not turn that reputation into a positive?

Real Gatekeeping

As it stands, Apple’s nebulous guidelines regarding App Store content basically ensure its legal interests are covered, developers don’t expand the capabilities of an iOS device beyond what Apple intends, and no objectionable content makes it through the gate. Apple has run up against criticism for what some have seen as rejections designed to either stifle expression or prevent people from gaining access to device features Cupertino reserves for its own use.

How much better would it be, for both the development community and consumers alike, if instead, Apple wielded its executive power to enforce a high standard of quality instead? A much smaller library would make the App Store more competitive, encourage more innovative design, and result in higher profits for the apps that did make it through. Good apps wouldn’t be lost amid a sea of questionable content.

Better Tend a Smaller Garden

I’m a fan of choice, but at this point in the game, Apple has the luxury of being able to enforce restrictions that would make the choosing that much sweeter. As it stands, there’s nothing stopping developers from releasing countless carbon copies of a poor quality app with minor cosmetic changes (and not for the better). That’s the kind of choice I don’t want.

Apple, celebrate the 300,000 app milestone by freezing or even decreasing that number. Take your curation duties seriously, and differentiate the App Store by making it the software market of quality, since the Android Market, being open, will probably catch up volume-wise soon enough anyway. Good developers will thank you, and so will consumers.

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  1. Alejandro Perez Monday, October 18, 2010

    So, basically what you wanna say here is that the next time you go to the supermarket you would prefer there is only Coke for soft drinks, Jiffy for peanut butter, and Kraft mustard. Or there should only be Big Macs in MCDonalds.

    C’mon, Having a choice is good isn’t it? Some apps are better for me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they would be better for you. Having less options would just Monopolize the industry and instead of having an app that costs 99 cents it would cost 20 bucks or more because there would be NO competition.

  2. Do you really think people would like it if Apple just started deleting apps willy-nilly, even the low quality ones? Do you really think that’s a good idea?

  3. Well restricted choice is not a good idea, but “staff picks” is a very good idea.

  4. Horrible idea.

    Why not promote better ratings and better App Store navigation tools than limit the number of apps on there?

  5. Andrew MacDonald Monday, October 18, 2010

    I absolutely agree with your point of view here, and would welcome such a move by Apple.

  6. There are well over 300,000 songs available in the world, and that isn’t too many, as people have different tastes and needs (i.e., wedding music, klezmer music, hula music, south Chilean pipe music) … so I look at 300,000 and think “why so few?”

    Also, the real “meaty” apps are just coming out of their 1st gen into “really usable 2nd gen” stage … so I see a lot more expansion and improvement in the “app world”.

  7. Why 300k and growing? Because while I may only have a few dozen needs that can be met by iP… technology, all the users together have millions of needs that could be. 300k is just getting going. We’re barely off the ground floor.

  8. I don’t think you can ever have too much with a virtual product; it’s not like this stuff is eating up space on a retailer’s shelf, and how often do you hear people complain that WIndows has too much software available?

    We have enough respected reviewers on the web that the cream will rise to the top more often than not, and the stuff at the bottom will just be ignored. As long as the quality of the better apps is maintained, I don’t see a problem.

    1. Darrell Etherington joe c Monday, October 18, 2010

      Don’t you think it might exhaust consumers to sift through that mess? I’m just concerned that quality isn’t being showcased as well as it could.

      1. This is what google is for ;-)

  9. Do not let Apple be the corporate arbitrator of creativity and ideas. Apple already exerts too much control over Apps, and giving them even more is a very bad and short sighted idea.

    Why do you think there too many Apps? I think it’s great. Just look at the control that MS has over Xbla and Sony over PSN and you’re see a stilted and constrained marketplace. Very few new games appear on those services and it’s only truly open to other big companies and publishers.

    As a game developer, I am amazed at the variety of new ideas that fill the App store. It’s so refreshing after years of tight censorship of ideas by the big console makers and retailers.

    How would you feel is Apple started limited the music on iTunes based on what they felt was good or not?

  10. It’s not a problem that there are so many apps, just the way that you have to search forever to find that app that works like it should and the UI is awesome too. There are way to many apps where the graphics part sucks, but the app is good. Ms. Pacman is a good one. They finally updated the app with a RD icon but left out the game itself. Then there are apps that are good but its so pixelated that you don’t want to use it. It’s not that hard to update you .psd file with more pixels…

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