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. icon
    Jeff Dierking (profile), 16 Jul 2009 @ 7:37am

    I see the point, but...

    The arguments about an app (no matter how stupid or trivial) is an app if it is sold separately.

    As an owner of a G1, what I find interesting is the number of apps that the App Store has that are not free that are free in the Android Marketplace. I work with an iPhone fanatic and he is always showing off apps he "bought for $0.99". Then I go and get the same app, or at least an app with the same functionality for free.

    The number people should focus on is the number of downloaded apps. I read recently, but cannot remember where, that of all of the apps only about 10 - 15% are downloaded with any level of significance. Not sure if there is any merit to that. But if Apple wants to put out a billion useless, crappy apps and claim they have over a billion apps, who cares? Only people I can see having issue are the iPhone/iPod fans and the sheeple that gravitate to the iPhone/iPod because "everyone has one".

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