26 Comments

Summary:

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?

iphone_apps

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…

  11. You wanky complainer.

    Complain when approval is too slow. Complain that there are too many apps. Complain complain complain.

    The average iPhone owner only uses a few apps. So the heck what.

    Get over it and thank your lucky stars you have choices that are safe.

    1. Darrell Etherington W Smith Monday, October 18, 2010

      Complain about too much complaining in blog posts? ;)

  12. No one calls for less crap on the web – just better ways of finding what they want.

    Restricting choice never promotes innovation. Surely all the smart people have figured that out by now. The whole of the developed world is based on the principle of the free market – has been for a few years now…

  13. 300,000 Apps is silly, 300,000 Apps with no logical index scheme is stupid. All Apple seems to care about is all of those big bucks hitting the till. I don’t even bother to visit the App store or, as a matter of fact, the music store.

    Most competitors seem to be much more eager to make music easier to find easier to find.

  14. Ricky Salsberry Monday, October 18, 2010

    While I 1,000,000% agree with the spirit of this article, they simply can’t do it. The PR hit will be too great if they just start hacking apps left and right.

    What they can & NEED to do is rebuild the app store from the ground up, to better help users find the quality apps, and surf the sea of 300,000 apps. It’s changed little since its inception and the UI is just not equipped for it.

  15. I agree completely with your point of view. As far as I can see, 300,000 apps is far too many especially because most of them are ones created over a weekend with no real thought put into them. The fart app category is an excellent example.

  16. You can NEVER have too much choice, period.

  17. This is a tough one as it’s all about subjection in that, what one might consider unworthy of the app store another might. How do you set the bench mark. Then once you’ve done then you’ll have the mighty righterous “equal rights” for everyone advocates calling it discrimination, theyin turn will seek to destroy the barriers of sensibility and have Apple taken to court as anti-competitive.

    It’s definitely a nice idea though, to clean out the crap but it’s deciding what’s crap and what is not. Maybe a simple voting mechanism could work but then that’s open to abuse.

  18. Guillermo | Social Media apps Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    I do not think more restrictions is the answer.
    The main problem I see for developers now is the speed of the reviews. It can take weeks even for upgrades. I believe it is really too much.

  19. I think a possible solution would be to have 2 app stores. One for everything and a ‘Pro’ version for more serious apps. Of course you then run into the problem of who decides which apps get into the Pro store…

  20. Need a second app store? There’s an app for that.

  21. horrible idea: How do you define quality? Why we all ‘feel’ when an app is well polished, it’s not quantifiable. How should Apple decide which apps are of good quality?
    – Size of the app
    – Hours of work they put in
    – Pretty icon
    – Usefulness (but for who?)
    – flashy animations (that are pointless, but if the developers have time for that, the app must be great)
    – Originality (1 fart app is ok, 2 not. But what if it’s another kind of fart?)
    – …

    It’s impossible! After the whole Apple-is-too-strict debacle, they should stay far away from this. And they will…

  22. The NUMBER of apps is not a problem by itself. The PROBLEM is the remarkably bad design of iTunes for searching for apps, and the astonishingly bad system Apple uses for its own “ratings.”
    I want to search for apps about trees and bushes in nature. I’d like to search without finding apps for genealogy (family trees). Can I search using something like:
    tree -family -genealogy ?
    No way. The basic “and” and “not” and “or” capabilities of search aren’t included. And a list of defects in iTunes, which is the gateway to all those apps, would go on and on and on. Hard to believe this is from Apple which supposedly prides itself on product excellence!
    Then look at the way iTunes rates some apps. Many (!) innocent educational or reference apps are improperly marked as available for users over 17 only. As a random example, look at Gaia GPS, for tracking on maps with the GPS. This supposedly has “Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive” themes. Total bunk. This incorrect marking is very common.
    Great to have many apps, IF there’s a way to look through them intelligently. Apple needs to integrate an app search capability with Google-like advanced search features. iTunes is an embarrassment.

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