Apple Needs to Restock the Virtual Store Shelves

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-11-29

10 App Store Shortcomings Apple Should Fix

When it comes time to evaluate a particular device, we simply can't do it in a vacuum, since more than just hardware and software goes into a product. Nowhere is that more evident than when we consider the iPhone. Apple's mobile phone has revolutionized the mobile industry. It has changed the way consumers view mobile phones. And that is in no small part due to its App Store.

Apple's App Store is easily the most successful mobile app store in the space. It currently offers over 100,000 apps in areas ranging from medicine to business, games to education. It's filled with great content. But it isn't perfect. In fact, Apple's store suffers from several problems that frustrate users and make developers scratch their heads. Let's take a look at what they are.

1. Quantity over quality?

In the App Store, it seems that the sheer number of applications offered trumps the quality of those applications. Now, that's not to say there aren't several fine apps in the store-there are-but there are far too many derivative, useless apps that easily make their way into the marketplace. Apple exacerbates the problem by talking about the number of apps in the store. We want more quality, not quantity, Apple.

2. Don't forget the enterprise

Although the App Store has made strides of late, there are still too few enterprise applications in the marketplace. That's mainly due to the iPhone's user base, which is admittedly consumer-heavy, but there is a real need for useful enterprise applications in the App Store.

3. Developers matter too

It's important for Apple to realize that as important as its sales might be, it also needs to play nice with developers. Unfortunately, it hasn't done that so far. And some developers are moving on to other platforms. Apple needs to remember that communicating with developers is necessity for any company that offers an operating system.

4. How does an app win approval?

One of the biggest problems with Apple's App Store is that developers have no way of knowing whether or not their applications will be approved for the store. When the application is completed, it literally has a 50-50 chance of gaining approval. That needs to stop. Apple must make it a priority in the new year to improve its approval process and allow some transparency. Developers need to know what to expect.

Apple Needs to Restock the Virtual Store Shelves

5. Get rid of AT&T

AT&T's influence on the approval process is causing more trouble than it's worth. The company stepped in when Apple evaluated Google Voice. It has also made it abundantly clear that no VOIP (voice over IP) applications can run over 3G. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. AT&T's role in the App Store should be eliminated-it's causing problems.

6. Secrecy

One of the main elements of the App Store approval process is secrecy. Apple doesn't divulge any more information than it's forced to. Worst of all, it makes no attempt to make its service more open to help both developers and users gain a better understanding of what to expect from the App Store and its approval process. It's a real problem.

7. Admit mistakes

When Apple mistakenly rejects an application and, after further review (usually when the media picks it up), allows the application into its store, the company should admit that it made a mistake, while reassuring users it will try to keep that from happening again. Unfortunately, it has done nothing of the sort. Instead, Apple continues to reject useful applications for no good reason. And when it gets caught, it quietly approves the application and moves on. That's a shame.

8. Categorization

One of the big problems with the App Store is finding apps. Unfortunately, users need to spend far too much time sifting through unwanted applications before they find the program they want. This not only causes frustration, but could limit downloads of viable apps.

9. Remember the user

Unfortunately, I just don't believe that Apple truly understands the App Store's users. Although the marketplace has a slew of applications that appeal to many, some of Apple's app rejections were ridiculous. Apple needs to do a better job of remembering who owns iPhones and base its decisions on that starting point.

10. A lack of competition

Perhaps one of the biggest issues facing the App Store is that it doesn't have stiff competition that makes Apple nervous. For now, Apple's App Store reigns supreme in the mobile application space and there's little chance of the Android Market or BlackBerry App World supplanting it any time soon. Until there's real competition in the marketplace, it's doubtful that Apple will be willing to change much  (if anything) about its policies in the App Store.

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