Wed Jan 26 2011

On Android app sales and fixing app stores

So one of the topics going around today is how Google is supposedly unhappy about the numbers for Android App sales. I don’t know why anyone would be surprised.

Low barrier to entry means crap apps: while it would be a good thing in most other cases, the fact that there’s an extremely low barrier to entry in the Android App store means that there’s virtually no quality control over what gets published. In turn, this means consumers will often be disappointed about their purchases.

Findability is a big deal: There’s a reason why you don’t see gourmet brands mixed in with everything else when you go to a brick and mortar store. Why? Because there’s obvious dilution in the perceived quality of a product based on its surroundings. This is exactly the case in the Android App Store - you often find yourself in a virtual search for the needle in the haystack. Truth is, finding quality apps is tough, and not a lot of people go through the trouble. Findability is a big deal, and no app store (iOS, Android, Chrome) nails it.##Fixing App Stores:

Provide incentives for quality apps: this is huge. Have you ever wondered why there are so many beautiful apps for the mac? One of the reasons (apart from the HIG guidelines, and the OS itself) are Apple’s Design Awards. Apple has always set a very high standard for quality, and is known to recognize and reward it. Provide incentives (features, awards) for people who care deeply about amazing apps - set a great standard.

Curate apps: This ties-in with recognizing quality, but I don’t think app stores should be limited only to rewarding quality - they should weed out the bad apps too. Lets face it: bad apps are a waste of resources and attention (that of the curator and that of the end-user). On top of that, they compound the findability problem, by making it harder for people to find the good stuff. Make that barrier to entry a bit higher.

Make the buying experience stellar (and social): It is always going to be easy to buy something great if it doesn’t cost a lot of money and the buying experience is great. It’s even easier if there’s an added incentive, like a friend’s recommendation. Make it easy for people to buy things, but just as important, make it extremely easy to both rate and share their purchases should they be so inclined (privacy’s a big deal here, so make it easy, not an obligation). People glance over those star ratings all the time. Add a friend’s avatar on there and you’ll get something going.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in through the comments below, or on Twitter. As always, you can (probably should!) follow me on Twitter.