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Jun 04
John August makes a strong case for getting rid of the best-sellers lists in the App Store.
http://johnaugust.com/2013/topping-the-charts-and-racing-to-the-bottom
I like his thinking. I’ve never understood why anybody besides app developers really care about which apps make the most money. The correlation between great apps and apps that make a lot of money is tenuous at best.
But I would like to take John’s ideas in a different direction: Apple should create multiple new charts based on different criteria.
One could be “Engaging” apps. Measured engagement could be the number of times an app is launched, the amount of time customers spend in the app, the number of Tweets and Facebook messages sent from the app, etc. This is all information that iOS has, or could easily collect, and then send it to Apple’s data centers for number crunching. (For privacy, data would only be sent if the customer has agreed to send diagnostics and usage data to Apple, per the existing option in Settings.)
Another one could be “Gamer Favorites” based on app activity in Game Center or active usage of Game Kit.
Or how about “Longterm Relationships” that highlights apps that customers downloaded a long time ago and still actively use.
The exact algorithms are not important (and they should remain secret to make gaming the lists more difficult). What’s important is that there should be many more lists so that I can find the ones that best match my app preferences. And if it turns out that I really like all the freemium games that all the teenagers like, then I’m sure Apple can come up with a more creative name for that list than

John August makes a strong case for getting rid of the best-sellers lists in the App Store.

I like his thinking. I’ve never understood why anybody besides app developers really care about which apps make the most money. The correlation between great apps and apps that make a lot of money is tenuous at best.

But I would like to take John’s ideas in a different direction: Apple should create multiple new charts based on different criteria.

One could be “Engaging” apps. Measured engagement could be the number of times an app is launched, the amount of time customers spend in the app, the number of Tweets and Facebook messages sent from the app, etc. This is all information that iOS has, or could easily collect, and then send it to Apple’s data centers for number crunching. (For privacy, data would only be sent if the customer has agreed to send diagnostics and usage data to Apple, per the existing option in Settings.)

Another one could be “Gamer Favorites” based on app activity in Game Center or active usage of Game Kit.

Or how about “Longterm Relationships” that highlights apps that customers downloaded a long time ago and still actively use.

The exact algorithms are not important (and they should remain secret to make gaming the lists more difficult). What’s important is that there should be many more lists so that I can find the ones that best match my app preferences. And if it turns out that I really like all the freemium games that all the teenagers like, then I’m sure Apple can come up with a more creative name for that list than “Top Free Apps”.

written by Nick

5 Responses to “John August: Get rid of the App Store charts”

  1. Just another dev Says:

    This is perfect, unless you are sober and thinking straight.

    The main avenue for apps to be noticed and downloaded is NOT THE APP STORE. It’s word of mouth, social media, organic searches. If your app is being used continuously by all of your users, then your users will spread the word around. You won’t need the App Store.

    The App Store’s role in the marketplace is to give developers an economic boost. So if my grandma who uses my app tweets about it and 50 people download it, then thanks to the quick set of downloads my rank goes up and another 50 people browsing around the app store see it and download it too. This is a very fair system. It basically says that for every odd download that I get, the App Store gives me a benevolent download. This is regardless of whether I am a new developer, an established one or I am Google.

    It’s not at all surprising that people want the system to be biased towards their type of app. So established developers would want long-term reputation to count more, new ones want the last 10 minutes to matter most… it’s expected. It’s all fine as long as you realize that apps of all usage profiles can be high quality, immersive, and useful.

    For instance, I have an app that lets you take a picture of the stars and gives you your approximate location. It’s pure genius. How often do I use it? Practically never. Am I going to keep it and is it valuable. Yes. Should it get a decent rank in the App Store when a bunch of people download it and stash it away forever? (…)

  2. Rhys Says:

    In response to “Just another dev”

    Except that’s not how it works at all. The charts are dominated by publishers that pay a bunch of money to gain higher chart positions. They aren’t there because of word of mouth. Maybe it used to be like that, but it’s not any more.

    Services such as Free App Of The Day etc, charge developers upwards of $5000 to promote to their enormous user base. The users download the free app and probably delete it without even playing it. This is why shitty apps are rising and staying in the top charts, while great apps are being overshadowed. It’s no longer about word of mouth, it’s about marketing and paid installs to get the rankings you want.

  3. Jon Hendry Says:

    Oddly enough, what would probably work nicely would be something like *Ping for apps*, if you could ‘follow’ people and see what they use. And your app purchases and reviews could be broadcast to your followers.

    The data could be aggregated, so you needn’t necessarily see what each person uses. You might just see all the apps used by people you follow, with an indication of how many people use each.

    If I could have the App Store import my Twitter list of Cocoa developers, and follow what apps they use, that would be very useful to me.

  4. Adam Says:

    I’m basically the exact opposite of “Just Another Dev”…I never let games publish in my social media feeds and I spend little time talking with my friends about app gaming. Most of the games just arent good enough to move from “Time Waster” to “Stay up late to play” so I dont tend to talk about them much. As a point of reference I’m 30 and have been gaming since computers had a turbo button.

    I use the Top Charts to find new games and totally agree it needs to change. Games that garner hundreds of reviews at over 4 stars are often Farmville clones with a slight addition or twist. Other games are free and interesting for a while but get in to this state where the difficulty increases and it becomes impossible to play without spending real money for in-game money…At this point I generally spend a few bucks in game to reward the developer but quit soon after (this is probably not the norm as most people would quit without paying). I know 1% of gamers at this point go crazy and spend a massive amount of money, which drives the entire business model.

    Thinking back to my computer and Playstation purchases I believe I generally pay about $1-2 per hour of gameplay on a high quality game, and I tend to buy after prices have come down. It seems possible to develop an iPad game that would hit that metric asking $3 for a level/chapter/map of a game the quality of Hero’s/King’s/Space Quest, Monkey Island, Master of Orion, Starcontrol 2, etc.

  5. Yves Says:

    Nice thoughts. Another criteria could be the impact of one App on the battery life. The rate of consumption.

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