Friday, December 14, 2012

Apple App Store design changes may result in new publication app launches coming to a screeching halt

Apple just can't seem to stop shooting itself in the foot, and maybe this time the wound will be fatal. Over the past few days, maybe weeks, Apple has slowly been rolling out a redesign of the App Store that eliminates the area where a consumer would find "All" the apps in that category, sorted by release date. Instead, the consumer would continue to find the "New and Noteworthy" area, which has never been where the newest apps could be found, but is simply an area where Apple features apps it likes and that are somewhat new.

Category by category the "All" area was eliminated. By yesterday it still existed in Newsstand, but this morning it was gone from Newsstand, as well.

At first I thought this was simply a design mistake, surely Apple isn't telling developers of new apps to take a hike, are they? But with the elimination of the "All" area of Newsstand it looks like this was a strategic decision – Apple will tell its customers what is available, and new apps will have to be marketed aggressively outside the App Store so that they eventually gain the attention of Apple so that they are included in their featured areas.
I've been working on this issue all week, simply too disbelieving that Apple would be so stupid. The iOS platform has succeeded because of developer support, how could it continue to dominate without the developer community? I think we'll soon find out.

So how did I find these two recently released apps for Filmmaker Magazine and Direct Selling Insider, two new Newsstand apps released in the last 48 hours? I went into the Canadian App Store, where the changes have not yet been rolled out.

For someone like me, who writes about the newest tablet editions and mobile apps, this is a major inconvenience, but one I can probably find work-arounds for. There are RSS feeds for new apps, and monitoring services.

But for someone thinking of launching a new tablet edition, for all the vendors out there trying to sell their services to both commercial publishers and would-be publishers, this is Armageddon. If the App Store is essentially shutting itself off to new apps and new developers, at least those without the financial muscle to market their apps, there is no market for new digital magazine inside the Apple ecosystem.

"When I noticed the change I found it pretty aggravating," a person who works at a digital publishing company told me this morning. "I used to use the app store for prospecting to find new customers, if you see a new app then maybe they are looking for a new platform, something that will work before for them."
This is a problem that also exists with Android with Google Play, but it hasn't come to the forefront because Android tablets have not yet reached any level of market penetration that would make this an issue.

But the Kindle Fire is growing in popularity so at Amazon this is far more important. Amazon's online store is more friendly to finding new apps and new magazines than Google Play (and now the Apple App Store), but only somewhat. There is a sort mechanism labelled "New and Popular" but this is pretty worthless for finding the newest entries – after all, something released just recently simply can't be "popular" and "new" at the same time. Because of this the first magazine app listed is People, which was released over a month ago.

But there is a way to pull up the apps released in the past 30 days, this is somewhat helpful for finding newish apps, but it is a crap shoot.

The problem with developing for Amazon products, however, is that their developer program is not good, and they are becoming very restrictive in what they are accepting into the store.

If Apple insists on its new policy I can not think of a single policy decision that would influence a developer's thinking about how to launch a new digital magazine. Prior to today a media app developer knew that their app would be hard to find, but at least for a few days, maybe a week, their app would show up under New. Now that one place where all apps are created equal has been eliminated from the U.S. App Store.

1 Comment:

Eye said...

Lost without a map...