There are key reasons why the iOS App Store has seen 25 billion downloads, and billions of dollars paid out to app developers: Quality, choice, ease of installation, low price, and a curated store. It’s incredibly easy for me to find or discover an app, and I feel completely safe pressing the ‘Buy’ button. I feel safe because I have access to the app’s marketing material as well as customer reviews and star ratings. But most importantly, I feel safe because of curation.
An army of Apple staffers actually takes the time to examine every app before it hits the store. They’re not judging whether an app is useful, pretty, easy to use, or otherwise valuable -that’s for the customer to decide. But they are making sure it doesn’t crash, steal your personal information, or otherwise do things not advertised. Because of curation, I can install any app on the App Store and know my iPhone or iPad won’t crash, won’t be hacked, won’t get a virus, won’t have malware, or won’t steal my identity. Curation enables unadulterated instant gratification, because there’s no risk.
The Android OS is suffering because Google’s Market Place [Just rebranded as Google Play] isn’t curated. Android developers are suffering even more so. Several high profile developers have recently announced they’re dropping Android support altogether. Google doesn’t curate their store -It’s a free-for-all. And because of that, 80% of paid Android apps installed on phones around the world are pirated. They’re pirated because hackers upload cracked versions of the real thing with impunity. Kinda hard for developers to invest in creating an app, only to have their hard work ripped off almost immediately.
For end users, Google’s store is a nightmare. Thousands of apps are nothing more than scams, trojans, malware, viruses and identity theft mechanisms. I haven’t looked lately, but for months, the top app in Google’s store was an anti-virus app. Anti-virus on your phone? Are you kidding me? But Google will have you believe that a free-for-all is better, more ‘open’, and better for customers than Apple’s closed approach. But Google’s ‘open vs. closed’ argument falls flat on its face: The dollar value of the top 100 apps on Google Play is three times that of the top 100 on the App Store. If nobody is buying in volume; if everyone is robbing the store, then prices obviously go up. Apple doesn’t face this problem and likely never will.
Google has a serious sustainability question to answer. It’s trapped by its own dogma and market-speak about open vs. closed systems. Google’s philosophy seeks to convince people open-source and an ‘open’ marketplace isn’t just better, but morally superior to a closed one. But as time goes on, the quantity and quality of apps on Apple’s App Store increases while prices decrease. Millions of people are buying billions of dollars worth of apps for iPhones and iPads. Developers are cashing in and pushing our iDevices to do more and more -so much so that the iPad is beginning to replace PCs for many people. It’s a snowball effect that’s become an avalanche.
It should be very clear to Google that convenience and simplicity can only be accomplished with curation. A lack of quality apps, talented developers, and paying customers, will make Android devices inferior to Apple’s.
When it comes to purchasing mobile apps, convenience, simplicity, and safety aren’t just more desirable -they’re mandatory. The App Store cash cow proves this fact quite succinctly. It’s only a matter of time before Google has to backtrack and start spinning the fact that their store has failed because it’s ‘open’. In the meantime, developers will continue to flock to the iOS App Store, billions more will be spent, millions more iDevices will be sold, and millions of customers will be happily locked into the Apple ecosystem.
The reasons for Apple’s App Store success are relatively simple, but hard to execute. Curation has been the mainstay of shopping in developed nations for more than a century. Even the stock market (the biggest market in the world), isn’t ‘open’. If you want your company to be publicly traded, it needs to meet the criteria laid out by the exchanges. And if you’re not selling, losing value, or otherwise lowering the quality of the exchange, you can be delisted. If Google’s philosphy for an ‘open’ market place really worked, we’d all be shopping in warehouses and junk piles. We don’t shop like that. We need curation. We demand curation.
The lack of curation is Android’s Achilles’ heel. Without a proper store for apps, customers will turn away from Android. They will realize their devices don’t compare to Apple’s. No amount of marketing, hardware specs, promotions, price cuts, or subsidies will overcome a lack of quality apps for Android. Apps are what make mobile devices worth buying and what keep customers loyal. If Google doesn’t come to its senses, the only place you’ll be able to buy an Android device IS a junk pile - and not the curated stores each of us shop at.