Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Appsolute Mess?

On the heals of Apple's 1yr iTunes App Store anniversary, where it announced that they've now had 1.5bil downloads & that there are 65k Apps on the platform, every digital blog & some more established financial journals have run stories highlighting concerns about clutter on the platform and various strategies employed by publishers to break through it. Clearly awareness of the is problem is intensifying and all I can say is...uh, duh! I've been on about this since the beginning of the year, back when there were only a few thousand Apps in the store.

The most popular of the aforementioned clutter mitigation stategies are price and the deployment of free teaser versions of Apps designed to drive awareness/consumption. Some have been a little sneakier, putting their games (for instance) in the less crowded categories, or by doing what the Wall Street Journal alleged Digital Chocolate did (and since undid), adding a bunch of "ea"s to its game descriptions (apparently trying to hijack consumers looking for EA Mobile games?).

If you remember, way back in January Apple VP Greg Joswiak proclaimed that the company wasn't going to editorialize the store, but rather allow free market forces to let the "cream rise to the top." Well clearly that philosophy has continued and what we've learned from its application is that cream costs 99cents and tastes are free. What remains to be seen is whether bigger publishers (with over 50 people on payroll) can actually make money on the platform under this paradigm and whether price differentiation based on quality will evolve as a viable strategy for applications on iTunes. If not, I believe the App Store experience will begin to deteriorate and its laudable (perhaps amazing) early success will become the object of nostalgia in the light of a longterm opportunity squandered.

1 comment:

  1. The pity is that Apple's rhetoric simply doesn't match the implementation. In a "market forces" retail environment, sellers can invest in their product's visibility via in-store promotions, end caps, and merchandising negotiations with the retailer. So why not create advertising and promotional inventory in and around the App store? There is no faster way to ensure that the cream (or at least the cream that can afford the ticket, but it is in the publishers' interest to only back titles that they see as potential winners) rises to the top. Yes, the little guys get squished in this type of scenario, so Apple could find a way to even out the playing field a little via giving more prominence to user reviews and the like. The App store (and the iPhone) is simply too good a thing not to keep evolving.