The rise of popularity in Apple’s mobile devices has in turn seen a rise in applications available on the platform. In July 2008 there were only 800 apps available for download compared to over 800,000 today, and yet the iOS 6 update which rolled out the current App Store interface demonstrated that they have made little effort in allowing their customers to easily find such a vast number of apps.
Apple feel that their consumers should only be exposed to a small number of apps, the upshot of this narrow-minded approach is that only 25 developers generate 50% of the entire App Store revenue. The only way to discover apps that don’t get featured is to search for the specific application name, using a search tool which is not intelligent enough to spot misspellings.Grey hat is commonplace
Discoverability. It’s a hot topic right now - gone were the days when an indie developer could create a simple game and naturally appear in the top charts, and in turn make a living from it. In order to generate any initial growth, particularly for an indie game developer, various and often controversial techniques are not only used, but have become commonplace such as mass paid downloads and bought positive reviews. This approach isn’t sexy, and as developers we certainly don’t want to butcher the beautiful products we create by using grey hat marketing.Paid promotion
Advertising companies such as FAAD, App-o-day, and App Gratis are cashing in on Apple’s discoverability shortcomings - new and useful apps simply don’t get seen by their customers. This has left a sour taste in Apple’s mouth which is clearly evident since App Gratis had their app pulled from the store. Contrary to what App Gratis’ CEO says, these business models do not improve the App Store for the consumer, instead the big budget companies force their sub-par featured products into the hands of customers that find them lacking, squashing the real innovators that have little-to-no budget to market their incredible apps.
These marketing companies also have a single point of failure, at any time Apple could decide to pull, for example, App-O-day from the App Store, as soon as that happens the business will rack up tremendous debts and fail. Relying on the co-operation of a gatekeeper is obviously a fragile business model, instead risk should be spread, but accomplishing this is hard.
At the end of the day, we are tip-toeing around, nobody really knows the rules.The inconsistent review team
If only Apple were consistent and efficient in enforcing and adhering to their own guidelines. In the past I have been the victim of Apple’s review team, each time I have submitted a new update or a completely fresh product I hold my breath and hope the application is approved. Reviews usually take about 10 days, and if an app is rejected then it could take substantially longer to fix just to please the reviewer.
The guidelines that Apple provide developers are simply that. Guidelines, and not strict rules. They are frequently misinterpreted by all parties and are constantly changing.What about developers?
For me, all I want to do is create apps that genuine customers will love, why has Apple lost interest in supporting the wider developer community and turned their attention to the elite?
I have struggled with these constraints first-hand, and I believe a better discoverability platform is possible that isn’t intrusive to Apple’s approach, and benefits app developers that range from indie hobbyists to large corporations, but most significantly - consumers.It’s time for change
My company has decided to tackle this huge problem, we are calling the platform MORE - right now we are brainstorming ideas, and we would love your input. Please tweet or email us with any thoughts you may have.
If you are like us and believe app store discoverability could be greatly improved, sign up to morediscovery.com to get early access.