Overhype

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
app store, counting, iphone



The Reality: Not As Many Actual Apps In The iPhone App Store As You're Told

from the pumping-up-the-numbers dept

Years ago, when I worked for a company that was trying to do digital distribution of software apps, we had a competitor that used to claim that it had agreements to distribute 300,000 apps. We, on the other hand, had agreements for more like 3,000 apps, which certainly made us look at lot smaller. The problem? There weren't even 300,000 apps out there at the time. The other company had done some deals with clip art providers, and the counted each piece of clip art as an "app." But, in the numbers game, it really looked good (and bad for us).

I'm reminded of that story as Om Malik digs a bit into Apple's claim of 65,000 apps in its iPhone App Store, and points out how misleading this is, because a few providers are uploading bulk apps. These are really one app but they're differentiated by pulling different content from the web in each implementation:
These are typically local search or travel apps written by a single publisher. Molinker is one such example. It pulls content from Wikipedia and Flickr for a country or travel destination and renders it for viewing offline. Molinker offers more than 800 of such applications, at 99 cents a pop. Another bulk apps provider is GP Apps; it has 380-plus apps, each of which essentially takes a search word and marries it to Google Maps.
In reality, each of these is one app, with a single distinct instruction concerning what content to pull. But Apple gets to count them as a separate app to puff up the numbers (which is useful, given the growing competition from other phone app stores). But Om is correct. Such apps should be counted as a single app and the numbers of apps in the store should reflect that. Otherwise, someone could (for example) create an RSS-reader type app, where each one pulls a specific RSS feed. Then upload each one with the millions of different RSS feeds out there, and you could boost the app store's app count to million in no time. But that would be incredibly misleading.

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  1. identicon
    CmdrOberon, 16 Jul 2009 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Misleading title, really

    > You are a little 'special' aren't you?

    There's no reason to be insulting.

    I agree with Yosi. An app is an app. Doesn't matter
    if it's stupid. If they are different line items in Apple's
    database, then they are different apps.

    Undoubtedly most of the apps are horrible, and many of them
    may be duplicates with only some build-time configuration
    change, but it's still a distinct application that can
    be downloaded from the store.

    The benefit for the customer is a targeted application
    that does (presumably) just what they want. The alternative, I'd like to point out, will get everyone's
    panties in a bunch too: one single application with
    dozens of knobs and configuration items which must be
    tweaked by the downloader to do what they want.

    We industry folks tend to sit on a high horse and poke
    fun at people who can't figure things out, but you must
    remember that majority of technology users view the
    technology as a tool that should work; they are not
    interested in reading manuals and endless configuration
    so things are just right -- they want stuff to work
    out-of-the-box.

    The bottom line is that the companies selling these
    duplicate-apps are doing their average potential customer
    a favor by making it easier to use out-of-the-box.

    And, finally, the way Apple tallies their app count
    isn't misleading.
    Rather, your gripe is with the people who make the
    apps that are pushing up the count, not with Apple.

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