Cheap apps may be hurting the App Store

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Some developers are beginning to lose their patience with the way the App Store currently works - which is a mad scramble for the top 100 via bottom-of-the-barrel 99 cent 'ringtone apps'.



Craig Hockenberry of the IconFactory (Twitteriffic and Frenzic if that's not ringing any bells) has written an open letter to Steve Jobs on the subject, saying that the current cheap and dirty way of getting things done may actually hurt the App Store in the long run, as making more complex apps become less feasible from a financial stance.



Will Apple come up with a solution that will benefit those who put in that extra effort? Or will the app store slowly spiral into an underworld of cheap mediocrity? Personally, I'm optimistic.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    irelandireland Posts: 17,471member
    He has a point I suppose, but he's making a fortune and can lower the price if he wants.



    A solution may be to have a top 100 list for $1 apps, free apps, and apps above a dollar. 3 top 100 lists, as opposed to 2. A simple solution that would likely put this whining to bed right away.
  • Reply 2 of 11
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    I saw a suggestion somewhere that Apple uses actual income as the ranking metric, rather than just number of copies sold.



    So that an app that goes for $4.99 and sells 5,000 copies is on an equal footing with a 99¢ app that sells 25,000 copies.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    I saw a suggestion somewhere that Apple uses actual income as the ranking metric, rather than just number of copies sold.



    So that an app that goes for $4.99 and sells 5,000 copies is on an equal footing with a 99¢ app that sells 25,000 copies.



    It's simple, and would require no visible changes: users would still see the Top 10, Top 100 etc... but it would be a more fair mix. I think it's worth a shot!
  • Reply 4 of 11
    irelandireland Posts: 17,471member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    I saw a suggestion somewhere that Apple uses actual income as the ranking metric, rather than just number of copies sold.



    So that an app that goes for $4.99 and sells 5,000 copies is on an equal footing with a 99¢ app that sells 25,000 copies.



    I think Gruber or Hockenberry (or both) said this. I personally don't like this solution. Top 100 shound be numbers sold, just like the music billboard charts. Numbers are numbers are numbers. Making another top 100 for apps that cost over $1 makes a lot more sense I think. Go into top 100 Paid and choose $1 or above $1 via a list button. Problem solved.



    Any more riddles for me? That one was easy.
  • Reply 5 of 11
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,188moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    I saw a suggestion somewhere that Apple uses actual income as the ranking metric, rather than just number of copies sold.



    So that an app that goes for $4.99 and sells 5,000 copies is on an equal footing with a 99¢ app that sells 25,000 copies.



    I agree with Ireland. I know, what am I thinking? The reason being that someone making an expensive $20 app and duping maybe 1000 people into buying it generating $20,000 would rank close to a $1 app bought by 20,000 people.



    Earnings don't show the popularity of the app and this could encourage developers to drive up prices for even basic apps. One thing I hate about the store is not being able to demo most of the paid apps so you have to pay before using.



    Pretty much all standard commercial software lets you trial apps first. This is really what will prevent sales of expensive software. Apple should have a system that allows you to use all paid apps for 24 hours and it will be deleted after that time but you can get another 24 hour trial after a week.



    I think the top 100 apps should also weigh in the reviews. If an app does have 10,000 downloads, it shouldn't reach the top 10 if people rate it as 2/5 overall. App popularity should include customer satisfaction because the top rankings are really recommendations and Apple should make a point of recommending good apps.



    Obviously, the algorithm would take account of the number of reviews too so an app with 50 reviews at 4/5 ranks higher than one with 2 reviews at 5/5. Something like:



    popularity = number_sold * (rating/(3/5))^(number_of_reviews/k)



    where k is a dampening factor based on the average number of reviews given to apps.



    This way, the more people giving negative reviews (less than 3/5) will reduce the impact of the number of sales and apps that have more positive reviews will rank higher than apps that sell the same amount with no or fewer positive reviews.



    Crash Bandicoot ranks lower than Cro-Mag Rally for example besides getting more positive reviews. iBeer is at 16 with a lot of reviews ranking just 2/5 overall and further up than much higher rated apps.
  • Reply 6 of 11
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    Dare I say it, Apple needs to take a leaf out of Microsoft's book.



    Microsoft has an online marketplace for indie and retro games on its Xbox 360 console called Xbox Live Arcade. Games retail for $5-15.



    What's interesting is that Microsoft doesn't just allow developers to publish demoes in an easy way but they actually mandate it. Every single game on Xbox Live Arcade has a demo so that gamers can try before they buy.



    It's also very easy to unlock the full version from within the demo, with no further downloads needed. A simple button press asks the user to confirm the purchase and voila - the gamer can start playing the full game straight away without even needing to reload the game.



    I'm sure developers making crappy $1 apps would bitch and moan if demoes were mandated on the App Store. But it would help the truly innovative developers out there to really stand out of from the crowd.



    10,000 apps is a great headline but who here wouldn't trade quantity for quality?
  • Reply 7 of 11
    jccjcc Posts: 203member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RichL View Post


    10,000 apps is a great headline but who here wouldn't trade quantity for quality?





    You hit the nail on the head. Their entire system is based on quantity, not quality. We need metrics that's based on the QUALITY of the programs. How about rate them by the the number of stars users give? The highest percentage of 5 stars apps should be at the top of the list.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JCC View Post


    You hit the nail on the head. Their entire system is based on quantity, not quality. We need metrics that's based on the QUALITY of the programs. How about rate them by the the number of stars users give? The highest percentage of 5 stars apps should be at the top of the list.



    Quality is a decision that the customers should make, not Apple.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    The problem with customer reviews is that they're easily falsified.



    What's to stop the author of the app writing lots of positive reviews? What's to stop the author of a rival app writing lots of negative reviews?



    There's no simple solution to this problem.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    adjeiadjei Posts: 738member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Quality is a decision that the customers should make, not Apple.



    Well said.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    There are some simple solution.



    Provide a Top 20 pull down menu whereby the searcher can choose certain price bands. That way I can compare what I'm getting for $3 versus $10 versus $20.



    Expensive apps should have a demo.
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