Four Ways to Fix the App Store

business Aug 20, 2019

The App Store has been truly transformative, and keeps getting better with recent additions like stories, demo videos, and improved discoverability making the experience even better.

However, the App Store is a victim of its own success with a simply overwhelming number of choices in nearly every category.

The simple fact of the matter is that the sheer volume of apps in the store makes it difficult to be found without an extraordinary marketing budget.

Furthermore, because employers want to see that a potential hire can actually code an app, and the only way someone can see and try an app is by downloading it through the App Store, the ranks are filled with projects that exist simply to “show off” skill rather than support an actual business.

While the egalitarian, “everyone is equal” goal of the store is noble and based on meritocracy, it has arguably led to a less equal playing field where it gets harder and harder to be successful without already being at an elite level.


Other Problems

Getting found within the App Store is hard enough, but other factors have made it harder and harder to be successful as an ISV (Independent Software Vendor), and it all comes back to marketing.

The “race to the bottom” of free/freemium apps over the past several years has savaged smaller developers, especially because designing and developing a freemium app is both another layer of technical complexity but also requires a marketer’s eye towards how to “hook” people initially and how to “hook” them again into paying.



There is no single silver bullet that will solve everyones needs, but here are some proposals which, taken together, would go a very long way towards making everyone happy.

  1. Have two separate stores: one for actual apps which support a business and one for students and developers to post sample projects. The sample store would also have an easier procedure and few requirements for publishing an app, while the professional store would maintain the high bar it already has.
  2. Allow users to “subscribe” to various search criteria so that they can be actively notified of new additions to those categories (e.g. “task managers”, “puzzle games”, etc.). This will let potential customers know about something which might interest them without having to count on them going to the App Store and actively conducting a search.
  3. Eliminate the “free” price tier and arguably anything less than $5, and replace with a standardized free trial period. This will help ameliorate the situation where people are immediately drawn to apps which say “Free”, even if they have in-app purchases. In-app purchases can still be allowed, but frankly they’re a PITA to create and manage, particularly for small ISVs.
  4. Create a UX/UI (NB I don’t have a solution to this yet) which eliminates the “viral” effect once an app has had more than a certain number of downloads or purchases. Why? Because most people only look at the first handful of options from a given search result, and when that handful is full of the already successful “big boys” and “big girls” they wind up becoming even more successful while everyone else gets crowded out.


Those are my four ideas for improving the App Store; what do you think? Let me know in the comments below!


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.