A tale of two app stores…

So recently I had my first experience shipping an Android app. It went pretty smooth – actually better than I thought.

In general as someone leading product at a startup – there are only 2 mobile ecosystems to focus on. iOS and Android. I am keeping windoze mobile on the horizon cause I think MSFT will keep dumping money into it and Nokia is tied to it. They will keep at it but for now it is too small. BB, RIM or whatever you want to call them – isn’t going to make it. I have been saying that for some time. Their new phone is not that amazing and the price points are borderline ridiculous. So no, I don’t think their chances have improved much at all. Neither does one of their founders.

Palm is toast. Tizen and Jolla is interesting but at the moment there is no way to take them seriously at all.

So it is Android and iOS for me.

This is not a deep, exhaustive comparison. Just my thoughts from having to dig into both ecosystems each day now.

I am not a developer so I can’t give you the bird’s eye view of writing code for these ecosystems but I have some sense of managing getting something launched, dealing with the payment systems and dealing with admin portals.

App Stores:

Apple – C: It is really a horrid management interface. The mobile tools help but they suck to. The review time is pathetic. Why can’t they throw more bodies at it? Why can’t someone with an approved app with no infractions manage their own updates. If you do and break the rules you are out. This idea of waiting for reviews for every app changes is really silly. The reporting tools are abysmal and the ability to see rankings across the ecosystem is best done with outside tools. In general Apple could build a much better ecosystem for their apps all the way around.

Google – B: So far I like the Play Store better. You can push an app anytime you want. The tools for seeing what is going on is nice as well. It shows you lots of data and I find it easier to dig through it. It is not amazing either but just feels better than Apple.


Apple and Google – F: Both ecosystems fail with discovery in my opinion. Sure Apple acquired chomp but other than a revamped app store I don’t see anything new or interesting. Appsfire is interesting but I have not gotten into the daily habit of using it yet. However I think they are on to something. The problem I have with both ecosystems is that they rely heavily on ratings and comments – it is such a flawed system with people using the comments and rating to lodge complaints or feature requests. Thus totally destroying any notion of the ratings and comments being valuable. I notice google is allowing developers to reply to comments but so far it is not turned on for everyone. I think both companies should overhaul this systems entirely.

The one thing Apple has going for it is they review apps which means there is less shit in the app store – so that means generally the quality of apps is better and decent apps tend to rise to the top. However in the Google store there is just a shit ton of shit. Any app gets in and even apps who pirate crap or are trying to mislead the user get away with murder. So this means quality apps get buried by apps working the system. There are even sophisticated developers using things like mechanical turk to work the comment/rating system to drive app the discovery of their apps.

Plain and simple – discovery is broken IMHO.


Apple – B: I give Apple credit for pioneering the way and for allowing users everywhere to easily pay but I think they need to open up a bit more and allow other methods to feed into the system versus just credit cards. Things like carrier billing, cash/voucher systems and so on would help a ton. Their management interface for the money sucks as well. Also Apple is being slightly disingenuous when it comes to not allowing anyone to pay for rentals outside of the iTunes/apple tv system. Maybe they will open this up when they open up the Apple TV but they need to stop protecting their own turf with the silly no rental of media rule.

Google – B: I don’t have enough experience yet but already I would give it a B and depending on how we go with it – maybe an A. You can sell practically anything and the interface for managing it all is pretty good. We shall see how reporting and stuff goes. It would also seem that you can implement other non google payment methods in your android apps. Let’s hope that holds.

All in all both ecosystems are unavoidable. Apple has tons of users who will pay for things and the app store is not the wild, wild west. Google and Android are just too big to ignore but the quality of apps is low and the system is too easily worked over. They are making strides to deal with it by making sure only google+ profiles can be used for commenting, users can say things are spam and eventually they will open up replying to comments by all devs.

I assume the next app ecosystem I will get any experience with is going to be windoze in some form or another.

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