When the iOS App Store was launched, the rapid success at which it exploded in popularity was beyond everyone’s expectations, except perhaps those of Steve Jobs. The number of apps available has risen at an incredible, exponential rate over the past three and a half years and we have now reached the stage where iOS users have more than half a million apps to choose from.
Brilliant. Fantastic. No boundries on where this could go.
But there could very well be boundries. That’s the sad thing. Perhaps where the iOS App Store starts to hit a critical mass of applications…
One could argue that, in consumer terms, there is absolutely no point in limiting the number of apps that are on the Store. More apps mean more choice and, by natural selection, the apps that are popular on the Store are the ones that make lots of money for developers. Users tend to only see the very best apps because they regularly appear in the top 10 or top 50 paid apps on the Store.
But, what about the apps that get lost in the forest? What about the apps that are excellent in their own way but never make it to the top 10 or even the top 100 because there’s 500,000 other apps to compete against. Of course, by searching for a specific app perhaps seen on a website or blog, users can circumvent the saturation problem, but this gives rise to another problem.
One feature that is notable about the App Store at the moment is the amount of utter shit that is in there. I’ve downloaded apps in the past couple of months that don’t actually do what they say they will. They are niche apps, but simply do not function, which is awful given that they’ve gone through the Apple review process and that I was charged for them. They obviously worked when they got past the Apple review, but don’t seem to work now.
The problem is, it’s getting more and more difficult to differentiate which apps are worth purchasing and which ones aren’t. The App Store is getting tricky to navigate.
So how to solve this? Should Apple be going through all the apps again, conducting three year reviews on whether they still merit a place on their App Store? Or should Apple simply increase the stringency of their review process? Fart apps are no longer accepted but what about the thousands of other categories which in turn have hundreds of apps with limited functionality in them.
That, of course, raises another question of whether it should be up to Apple to temper the rise of the number of utterly useless apps on the App Store, but that is treading a fine line between inhibiting or censoring which apps make it on to the Store on the grounds of usefulness. Does a fart or puke sound app, which will likely make someone laugh, deserve to deemed useless?
Maybe I should propose another solution…
Bugger it. Let the apps keep increasing in number so that iOS users always have the very best selection of apps to choose from. That is freedom.
But, would it be possible for Apple to implement a better system for reporting concerns about app functionality. There is the option to report a concern over any of the review comments for a given app, couldn’t the same option be added for the app itself, perhaps in the drop down menu next to the ‘Buy App’ option.
It may seem purile to complain about app saturation but when the shite starts to obscure the good, perhaps it’s time for a change.