App stores need full shelves, but an abundance of quantity brings its own issues, especially when it impacts quality. Just look at Apple and Google, who are currently struggling with issues stemming from the flood of offerings in their respective stores.
Cleaning up the mess
While Apple and Google might be in a tight race for app market supremacy, each company still have to make sure its store is kept tidy.
Apple vets every single app submitted to its store, and despite some blunders, the system largely works. Despite the high overall quality of App Store apps, however, the sheer quantity of them introduces some major issues. Sifting through 800,000 apps is nigh impossible, and it's also very difficult for noteworthy new apps to gain recognition by cracking the App Store's spotlight lists.
Those iOS headaches have inspired developers to develop workarounds.
In particular, an app named AppGratis helped highlight software that may have been lost in the depths of the App Store, and often sold apps from other developers for free or at a steep discount--which also helped those apps appear on the Apple-curated lists.
With around 10 million users worldwide, AppGratis was certainly popular, which suggests that iOS users want (1) free app promotions, and (2) a better way to discover apps. Apple recently yanked AppGratis from the App Store, however, citing a policy that prohibits the promotion of other apps from other developers.
Google, which doesn't check apps before they get published, has a more difficult task. Over the past year, the company has had to repeatedly remove malicious apps from the Google Play, and many of the Android apps available are of dubious quality--something that Google apparently wants to crack down on. TechCrunch reports that Google removed nearly 60,000(!) spammy apps from the store during February, the company's largest purge to date.
To put Google's clean-up operation in context, the number of apps wiped from the Play Store in February equaled more than half of the total amount of apps found in BlackBerry's store.
Apps make the difference
When it comes to operating systems, having a useful, thriving app ecosystem is just as important having good hardware. Witness the fallen HP TouchPad or Palm Pre if you think otherwise.
Or, as Canalys chief analyst Adam Daum explained in a recent press release: "Apps have had a huge impact on the way consumers use mobile devices, what they value, and what they expect from smart phones and tablets. They are now central to how consumers engage with content and connected services."
One marquee app trumps a legion of shovelware in pretty much every way, from its impact on OS brand awareness to the overall cleanliness of app store shelves to sheer usefulness.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.