Apple should approve fewer but better iPhone apps

With IDC predicting 300,000 iPhone apps by the end of next year, maybe Apple should be more selective in what it approves

With IDC predicting the iPhone App Store could top 300,000 apps next year, perhaps the race for numbers should end.

Rather than looking for ways to approve more applications, Apple might want to start saying "yes" to a much smaller number. Quality over quantity, don't you know?

I am quite aware that this may seem to be at odds with my earlier comments about Apple's monopolies--the Apps and iTunes music stores--being bad for consumers.

However, they show no signs of going away and I am a realist: Apple should shift from trying to have the most applications to having the best ones.

Among other things, this will require the iPhone to consistently be the best applications platform, which it arguably isn't now, following release of Motorola's Droid and the latest version of Google's Android OS.

Maybe the next-generation iPhone, supposedly being tested in the wilds of San Francisco, will solve this problem by leapfrogging Android handsets.

(My colleague, Tony Bradley, almost suggests it will be impossible for Apple to approve enough apps to reach 300,000 in 2010, even though developer interest remains strong).

Besides hardware improvements--multitasking, faster networks, etc.-- there is much Apple can do to improve the iPhone apps experience:

  • Stop approving applications that aren't significant improvements on what already exists. Apple should offer a collection of only quality apps. If developers can't move their category forward, they don't need to be on the iPhone.
  • Allow customers to try applications, especially expensive ones, before they buy. There is a limit to what people are willing to risk when refunds are few and far between. iPhone apps should be sold on a "satisfaction guaranteed" basis. Not forever, but at least long enough to test them and make sure they meet the customer's need
  • If Apple makes approvals harder to come by, it needs to give developers some guidance as to their chance for approval before they are deeply and expensively committed to a project.
  • There are already too many "me, too" apps in the iPhone store, so some cuts might be a good idea. I would oppose dropping apps merely because of slow sales--goodbye niche apps--but if something is a slow seller in a popular category there may be a reason.

In short, Apple needs to make it more difficult to get into the App Store as well as more difficult for sub-par applications to stay. The iPhone has so far differentiated itself on quality of experience. One way to battle an open platform, such as Android, is to make exclusivity a feature that customers want.

David Coursey has been writing about technology products and companies for more than 25 years. He tweets as @techinciter and may be contacted via his Web site.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Appleiphone app storeiPhoneiphone apps

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

David Coursey

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?