The Future Of App Stores — All Platforms United
Imagine yourself as a business owner who is about to launch a mobile app. You have a great user interface and the developer of your app has outdone themselves. What’s next? Putting it up on an app store so that people can see it. If you go to Apple’s App store and type random words like ‘buy’ or ‘chat’, a bunch of irrelevant apps will pop up, questioning the existence of a store which is supposed to get you the best of all categories. That is where things get a bit messy. For a startup, it is even more worrisome, because putting your app on the map is not just it. You’ve to pay a lot of money to get recognized. So what exactly is the function of an app store?
Birth of the app store:
Steve Jobs did not expect to introduce an app store when he was introducing the 2007 iPhone. Read more in the 2007 WWDC Press Release. That was the time of Java and web apps, but soon he gave way to all the pressure by developers and the App Store was born. All operating systems have been gaining billions of dollars of profit since then, but tech-smart minds are now looking beyond that. Jobs surely hated the idea of his operating system being ruined by native apps. Apps that only make calls and help in communication like WhatsApp or Skype compete with native apps, ruining the purpose of an app store.
In this study about the App store retrospective, researchers at Adjust have found out a Zombie Rate — the number of apps that rarely make it to top lists in the App Store. Keeping in mind the fact that many top apps are downloaded in different categories in different parts of the world, further decreasing the chances for new developers to showcase their apps. The Zombie Rate increased to 82% by 2015, with 1,136,501 apps alone in the zombie category. It clearly indicates that exposure is limited to app stores and the app you see in the search results may not be what you need.
Let us talk about Uber, and how it is surpassing the boundaries of app usage. It is now possible for you to call an Uber directly from your Facebook conversation with someone. Uber’s integration with Facebook does not limit you to having an app and using it solely. This means even if you haven’t installed the application, the end result will still be achieved. Uber has also made sure that you can view wait times and traffic conditions on Citymapper. This is an opening era of unlimited integration possibilities, with contextually relevant services that are being updated in real time on multiple platforms.
Google also works towards this goal by providing you all-in-one services using it’s searching app. You can not only search a hotel but also finalize a booking right from the search result. If the details are updated, you know the opening and closing times of a place. Friction is minimized. Often we are working on an app on our phones and remember to do something on another app, but after a minute we forget what we wanted to do. Embedded services will make that glitch disappear.
Moving beyond app stores:
The analytics firm Adjust revealed that the top 10 apps used on smartphones are mostly messaging and video calling apps. It raises many questions for a particular genre, like game developers, mostly like
1. Is it impossible for another genre of apps like games, etc to move to top lists?
2. Will the problem be solved by a better operating system?
3. Should app store developers look into better curation?
The only game that made it to top 10 apps is a clash of clans, which again is represented in many subcategories all over the world, not to mention all the Ads placed by the developer. Other game developers like AirG, GameDev, Gamasutra, etc may be providing even better games but will have to adopt unique strategies too.
Looking towards the future:
With more than 1 billion apps on App Store and Google Play combined, the developers who once quit their full-time jobs to bring forward record-smashing apps, are now facing a loss. WIRED published a very honest analysis of one such company, Pixie, that went really well in the initial days of app stores but is now undergoing a loss in the market. It means that in nowadays market, you are only as good as your latest hit. Niantic Inc and Prisma are shining examples of this.
The future holds a lot of potential to these clever coding minds, minds that landed us in the world of Web 2.0 and made a breakthrough in the field of virtual reality. Google, Apple, and Microsoft have clearly announced that they see apps as the future of software, but adapting to its world and curating it all the way to perfection is their next big task.
As an app user, you should always spend some time in the store, browsing and spending your valuable money on good apps, many of which may not make it to the top lists, but are still brilliant. As for all app developers out there, some changes are underway, so that better content comes forward.