App Store Apathy

App Stores. They’re great, they’re bloated, and they’re important. But I have one question:

How did we get here?

It was revealed in his biography that Steve Jobs was against the idea of third-party apps. In fact, it took a considerable amount of convincing from Apple Chairman Arthur Levinson before Jobs gave the App Store his approval. Fast forward seven years and the dynamic is different – an unbelievable contrast.

We understand that stores are important for end users looking to download apps to their mobile device(s) of choice. We also understand that stores are critical for your marketing efforts, even to the point of litigation. What I personally don’t understand is why stores and their related app-count are used to measure quality and commitment.

An ouroboros of sorts

I’m going to move to the defence of BlackBerry, the Windows Store and Windows Phone here. On the one end, developers are neglecting these platforms on the premise that interest from consumers is below their attention and makes development for BlackBerry 10 and Windows Runtime (sans XBOX One) expensive and infeasible. Fair. On the other end, consumers are reluctant towards these platforms because they demand a large array of quality apps – an array which will only be realised if and when the developer community commits and concentrates their efforts towards said platforms. This is an ouroboros.

So how do we move away from this?

Evidently, we won’t.

No room for third place

I was picking up a new Nokia Lumia 820 a few weeks ago. Naturally, I asked the clerk to insert the new MicroSIM so that I may leave the store with the assurance of a working, active SIM card. He was clearly struggling to remove the Lumia’s polycarbonate shell, and from that humility he then admitted that he had actually never sold a Lumia 820 before – this despite the mass marketing done by Nokia. My quick discussion with the gentleman revealed that:

  • People are becoming less interested with a phone or tablet’s hardware, and more interested in apps such as Instagram.
  • People aren’t asking questions about voice commands and search, they’re asking questions about the “Siri” they’ve heard so much about.
  • People are still interested in having a good phone, but a good phone is now determined by how many people are carrying it.

Perhaps the problem is me. Maybe there is hope and we will move away from this ouroboros. The 20-year-olds ask Google for an opinion. The 30-year-olds olds ask the sales team for an opinion. The 40 to 60-year olds ask their children for an opinion. The developers… I don’t know who the developers ask. I’m just a geek who makes his own conclusions.