Yahoo(s yhoo) thinks it has an answer to the mobile app discovery challenge for both Apple iOS (s aapl) and Google Android (s goog) devices, launching its own software and website to help consumers find apps more easily. The new Yahoo AppSearch website and AppSpot software leverage the company’s search service and can make application suggestions based on the software currently installed on a smartphone. Search results include ratings, reviews and provide direct links to the iTunes App Store and Android Market for easy installation.
I took the new software for a spin on an iPod touch, and while it provides a pleasing interface, I’m not sure it brings a better experience. AppSpot will return results with each letter entered, which is nice, but Apple’s own App Store app does the same. And a search for “run” on both yielded nine app choices in the native Apple store, while Yahoo’s AppSpot provided only four choices. Yahoo’s app also recommends apps in different categories, called “Today’s Picks for You”, but I didn’t see any that appealed, except for apps I already use. Why recommend the Kindle app, when I already have it installed?
I do like the barcode integration feature, however, which is powered by RedLaser. Results for apps on the AppSearch website include a QR code, which is the App Store or Android Market link for the installation information. Tapping the barcode icon in AppSpot brings up the barcode scanner on an iOS or Android handset and brings you to the appropriate install page on the phone. This isn’t groundbreaking — Android’s Market supports this natively, for example — but it doesn’t require a separate third-party barcode scanning app.
It’s likely that the Android version of AppSpot will see more downloads than the iOS edition. Although Google has been improving the Android Market experience, app discovery for Android phones can still be a challenge. Part of that problem may be due to the lack of app curation by Google, as some of the apps are of poor quality. This can clutter up the Market, making it difficult to find higher quality software for Android phones. It’s for this reason that Android app stores from Amazon(s amzn) and Barnes & Noble (s bks) don’t simply mirror the entire Android Market, but instead use a curation and review process for software.
Overall, I’m wondering why Yahoo is getting into the app discovery game, given that it’s a relatively crowded space already occupied by Appolicious, Chomp, StumbleUpon, Zwapp, Appsfire and many others, not to mention the native app stores themselves. Adding yet another app discovery engine could confuse consumers even more when it comes to finding apps, recommendations and ratings. While some may find Yahoo’s new software and service useful, it seems to me that the strategy is simply one of trying to stay relevant in the mobile space.