Thursday, February 14, 2013

What's going on the App Store? Developers complain that nothing is going on, hope for a redesign, better search

It is hard to believe that it is now mid-February and Apple's App Store remains a mess. As seen in iTunes, huge swaths of real estate remain empty, searching for new apps remains nearly impossible – much worse in the U.S. store than others – and no one seems to be taking the complaints of independent developers very seriously.

Late last year Apple introduced a redesigned App Store that was a huge thumb in the eye to small, independent developers. Apple's App Store team changed the store from a store where all apps could be found at least once, at launch, to a highly curated store where only a few apps chosen by Apple would get noticed. Developers howled and complained for falling app sales.

But the redesign was not for small developers, it was meant to achieve more app sales by driving iOS device owners to popular apps made by big developers or large media companies. But change in strategy did not cut off developers from launching new apps, and it hasn't stopped scam developers from spamming the store with knock-off apps. As a result, not only are small developers finding it hard to reach buyers, but their apps are increasingly lost in a sea of really bad apps.

"There's a 'scam gang' putting out so many apps by using the same template code, 'ABC for kids' & 'Animal Sounds' in different names, dozens of new ones appearing at the App Store every 2-3 days pushing my app into abyss!" one developer complains in the developer forums.

Everyone is searching for a solution, everyone it seems other than Apple.

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App Store promotions are becoming increasingly stale
In November Apple's CEO Tim Cook gave Eddy Cue, the company's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services a new assignment – save Apple's mapping and Siri products. Both features have been heavily criticized and led to much embarrassment for Apple and its CEO in particular. One wonders how much this move may be effecting what is going on in the App Store. Users and developers are both complaining about its broken search mechanism, its staleness and lack of imagination.

The problem is best exemplified by the fact that some of the most popular apps being seen in the store today are actually apps designed as a way around the store itself such as Appsfire. Most of these apps highlight app deals and games, however, not much use for those looking for newly released magazines or newspapers.

The bottom line is that the App Store used to be like a giant bookstore: hard to find what one is looking for but with a lot of selection and the joy of browsing. Now the store is like walking down a street corner: constantly accosted by hawkers, where one can't find what one wants and becoming increasingly annoyed by Apple's sales approach.