Tuesday, February 16, 2010


A very common comment on the flavor-of-the-month appstore killer seems to be that size doesn't matter. Which is to be read that the number of apps your store has isn't important. Many a writer suggest that a 100 well written high quality applications are to be preferred to 140,000+. I find that to be a classic 20/80 argument and a blatantly ignorant view on the realities of, well, reality.

Is quality better than quantity? Yes. Is variation for the sake of variation useful? No, not really. If an app doesn't do something differently, or do more or less, what point is there to it? But the argument isn't 100 high quality applications versus 140k+ "the way it is"-apps. The argument is 100 vs 140k. The quality won't be better for another platform than the iPhone, at the very least not significantly higher.

I would argue that the quality of most non-iPhone apps will actually be lower. Why you ask? Because I am an evil elitist that always takes the side of Apple? No. There are some real reasons behind this.

First of all the iPhone has gained a huge momentum in developer circles. This means that you have competition (140k...) and you have tons of developer talk on the web. It's easy to find help, easy to scoop out the competition and it is easy to find people who do develop for the iPhone. This all gives the opportunity for a wide verity of apps, and a need to produce high quality apps to get ahead of the competition.

Second we have the SDK. It's good. The APIs are good, the views are good, the frameworks are good. Good times all around. 'nuff said.

Third we have the standard Apple applications on the devices. They are good. Very good. They might not suit everyone. The notes app is typical of this, some people really do want more than that. But for what it does, it does well. So there is a good starting point which is consistent. Not a mish mash mess so prominent on other platforms.

Fourth is the quality mindedness of developers on the mac platform. Some really awesome high quality apps have been released for the mac. The developers take pride in following Apple's guidelines or exceeding them (Apple do need some updates in this area for sure! They are lagging their 3rd party developers. How common is that?). You develop iPhone apps on macs. See the connection? Someone willing to pay the premium to develop on a mac sure is going to have a reason for it. I know I do.

These among other reasons make me believe that the general quality of iPhone/iPod touch/iPad apps will continue to be high and continue to improve even further. I have many arguments against the other choices of mobile platforms, but I will leave that for another day.

The biggest reason why I strongly feel that competing app stores are going to fail is because they are trying to jump to the goal without doing the ground work. Apple has spent a long time building up to the iPhone (and now the iPad). Building a solid OS. Building solid apps. Building solid SDKs. Building the ecosystem. Building iTunes. Building the iTunes music store. Building the iPhone. And finally, after all that, building the App Store.

If companies like Google, Nokia, RIM, Palm, SEMC, Motorola, etc are going to stand a chance, they can not skip all those initial steps, slap some lipstick on what is a solid server kernel, and declare to the world that their shiny doesn't-actually-exist app store is going to ruin Apple forever. They did that to the iTunes music store. How did that turn out? How did the Zune turn out?

To be honest, all those other companies reminds me of rabid "get rich quick"-scheme type of desperate people. Sounds like a bad bet to me.

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