Centralized App Stores, The End Of An Era?

What is wrong with today’s app marketplaces?

Independent developers don’t always have it easy when it comes to distributing their apps.

If you’re a dev, you probably know that you have options in terms of how and where to distribute your app, yet it seems that in order to draw in a substantial number of consumers, you have to have presence in some app marketplace. For everything mobile related, you go to an app store. For PC games, you probably want your product displayed on Steam. It seems that over the past decade, software related marketplaces have been the preferred choice for developers. App stores make things easier, allow for greater exposure and relieve devs from handling payments on their own, among other things.

But it comes at a price.

So say you coded your app, got it approved and accepted into the marketplace… Hold on. This isn’t a trivial matter. Devs need to take special care of their app meeting all the required guidelines and restrictions that the app stores dictate. If you missed something during your own evaluation of the guidelines, the resources that you’ve put into developing the app, especially with the app store distribution in mind, can go to complete waste. This is particularly true if you’ve found out that your app goes fundamentally against a core guideline. In other words, you’re crossing your fingers that your app gets accepted, and that you will get rewarded for all the hard work and hours put into developing it, because you just can’t know for sure.

You breathe a sigh of relief after you’ve been notified that your app got approved. A registration fee was already paid, but it’s not something you can’t afford. An acceptable price to pay to get the big exposure you seek. But the registration fee, be it $25 or $100, isn’t the only fee you’re going to be paying. From here on out, around 30% of every app sale you generate will go to the app store. A hefty price to pay, all things considered.

But you see no other viable choice, so you go through with it anyway. Fortunately, you see your app gaining traction. People seem to love it. sadly, the company that runs the app store has been working on a very similar app for the past year, and is ready to launch it. At this point, you break into a cold sweat, and with good reason. Your app will be likely treated unfairly, as the app store holds power to influence app exposure and ranking. Worst case — your app gets de-listed for some obscure violation of guidelines, as means of eliminating competition.

App distribution can be better than this. These are problems worth solving. We’re here to offer a solution.

Blockchain Technology

Thinking about these problems, we realized that one of the major obstacles was centralization. A centralized authority that charges fees to sustain and grow itself, holds the power to discriminate based on self-defined rules and the ability to influence its business partnerships internally. If we can get rid of the centralized authority, we might solve the problems mentioned above, among others. No central authority means decentralization, and that’s exactly the environment in which cutting edge solutions can be built.

Enter blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology has evolved to the point where we are able to develop decentralized applications on top of it. No longer is it about logging financial transactions without a financial institution that is acting as a middleman. Information technology is one industry that is already eyeing blockchain as a way to resolve a large number of problems. Information technology departments could use it to track inventory or monitor server performance, among other uses. Developers could directly deliver their apps to customers, with the transaction publicly logged. Not only would this eliminate the costly fees they pay from each sale, but it would also open the door to create apps on their own terms.

Introducing Spheris

We founded Spheris with the goal to create a new marketplace for applications, where there are no fees involved and no restrictions. A decentralized platform, in the complete sense of the term, powered by the people — for the people. No banks, no credit card companies. No censorship. We want it to be extremely easy and comfortable to use, both for developers who wish to integrate Spheris into their apps, and for customers who wish to purchase apps.

Best of all, it’s free and it’s open-source. Whether you’re a developer from a country that is restricted from the traditional app marketplaces, or a kid who develops kickass apps but can’t capitalize on them because you still can’t open a bank account — Spheris welcomes all.

We’ve been working on the technology that will help achieve this vision. Our plan is for Spheris to have five distinct components which will give specific solutions to payment processing, software distribution platform and software storage. A successful technical implementation of these ideas will give rise to a true fully decentralized app marketplace.

Technology Behind Spheris

Our five components are part of a framework we call the DAM (Decentralized Application Marketplace). Here’s a high-level overview of what these components are and how they will work:

Catalog

Spheris Catalog is a registry that is stored on Ethereum’s blockchain. Catalog maintains relevant information such as registered developers, applications, subscriptions and ratings. Data is written and retrieved by utilizing Smart Contract methods (functions that are executed on the Ethereum Virtual Machine).

Browser

Spheris Browser is the DAM interface. It is a multi-layered visual representation of the Catalog registry. It’s essentially the front of the marketplace, similar to other app stores. The DAM interface will include popular app store usability elements, such as categorization, ability to search for apps and developers, filtering options, ratings and reviews.

Manager

Spheris Manager is a feature-extended crypto wallet which is designed to work with the Spheris platform. Manager is built from the ground-up with the goal to make it as simple and easy as possible for users. Aside from basic functionality that one can find in other wallet solutions, Manager also provides easy subscription and app management, as well as support for wish lists and watch lists. A convenient notification system will be put in place for users to get optional alerts on new apps released by a particular developer, relevant news and other promotional material.

Signal

Spheris Signal is a subscription validation library. Developers can use this component as an additional security layer by making sure their app is being accessed with the private key that was used to purchase the subscription. Integrating Signal with applications is optional, but recommended, as it is a native anti-piracy solution which developers don’t need to bother coding themselves.

Storage

Spheris Storage is an intermediary component that will allow developers to upload their applications to multiple storage locations. Popular centralized storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive will be supported, as well as decentralized blockchain storage solutions such as Swarm and IPFS, along with other promising projects including Storj, Sia and Filecoin.

Share Your Thoughts

Our project and the ideas behind it are still new and constantly growing, so it’s important that you chime in and give your thoughts. We want to hear from app developers across all industries while we’re building our new platform. The feedback we receive now could make a big difference in shaping the future of Blockchain-based app distribution.

Here are the ways to stay in contact:

Spheris will continue to collect feedback as it grows, so developers should always feel free to reach out. The community is being built with the needs of software developers in mind, so we know it’s important to hear what those needs are to be able to quickly address them.

App development is a growing, thriving field, but professionals in the industry can get frustrated by the many hurdles app marketplaces require. Instead of putting obstacles in the way, technology should make it easier to get our products in the hands of customers. Blockchain technology has just what it takes to revolutionize the field and leave experts wondering why we ever allowed app marketplaces to dominate the way we build and distribute apps.