The Next Five Years of App Store

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Thoughtful piece over on MacStories that imagines what’s next for the App Store (5 years old today). The whole thing is good, especially the parts on App discovery.

Federico Viticci:

The problem with over a million apps is that, unsurprisingly, people don’t have time (or money, or willingness) to check out each one of them. Apple will need to develop better, more proficient discovery tools if they want to ensure that the excellence of the App Store platform is not only editorially curated by Apple every week, but also organically discovered by users based on factors such as immediate needs, tastes, or social recommendations.

The App Store is subject to very similar future challenges and opportunities to the streaming music business. Back in May I wrote about the (then only rumored) iRadio service and posited that the three important parts of a future music-purveying business were:

  1. What music they have to sell.

  2. How much they charge for it and how.

  3. How they present it.

I think you can substitute “apps” for “music” in that article and it wouldn’t be that far off the mark. Apple has the first part locked down: they get all the good apps first, because iOS is the most profitable platform for app developers.

Number 2 is still up for grabs. Right now consumers are used to the free/cheap pricing, but I’ve seen an increasing number of apps bust out of the $.99 — $2.99 range and charge upwards of $5. The App Store is still a market in considerable flux. It’s possible that it could stabilize eventually with a wider price range. “Free-to-play” apps aren’t going away any time soon.

Number 3 is probably the most interesting piece of the puzzle, and Federico covers it with typical thoroughness. One thing is for sure: the number of apps in the app store isn’t getting any smaller. It’s only going to get harder to find good ones, unless Apple makes some changes to the current system.