…lose some weight and get a better tape measure…

Mobile apps

Quantity alone is not a measure of app store success

Don’t get me wrong, I love apps. They have done much to accelerate the uptake and advancement of smartphones which in turn continually improves mobile web browsing capabilities – hurrah! Apps are starting to shake up the whole industry – they are creating a strong device lock-in making it much harder for consumers to switch their allegiance and will help bring about significant device / platform consolidation over the next few years.

But do we really need to keep measuring the success of an app store by the quantity of apps they contain? Most weeks we can read about another app store that now contains a gazillion more apps – it’s all a pointless “mine’s bigger than yours” boasting match that tells us consumers nothing, especially since some of those app stores stuff ringtones and wallpapers in as apps to boost their size. I don’t know about you, but the idea of sifting through an over-bloated store full of lame fart apps and brand advertising doo-doo is not appealing. Call me vain, but I’d rather have a lean, attractive app store full of great downloads – but which ones really are the best?

Can I ask the industry to please stop using quantity alone as a measure of app store success and quickly adopt a more useful measurement – something more meaningful like an App Store rating based on a range of factors… I propose it should consider:

– Variety of apps – does the store contain lots of different types of apps or just hundreds of versions of the same app.

– Quality of apps – something that looks at the complexity of apps or the perceived usefulness of the apps.

– Ratio of paid to free apps – the old saying that you get what you pay for still holds some truth.

– Unique downloads against number of shipped devices – not just the total download numbers as millions of downloads by 3 people is useless.

– Innovation factor – number of apps that are exclusive or appear in this store before appearing in any other store

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and welcome other contributions.