Finding new apps in the App Store

Mac_App_Store_IconI was browsing my Twitter feed this morning, picking my way through the links posted by the people I follow, many being fellow app developers, and came across a link to a pseudo magazine article entitled “The top 15 Apps you should look out for in 2014”.

More often than not, these types of articles are supposed to be written by people that know a good app when they see one, having spent hours, days, even weeks, trying out these apps for themselves and making solid judgements before recommending them to the public at large. However, more often than not, they simply print any old editorial that’s been submitted by the PR companies and marketing departments employed by these heavily-funded app companies, so the apps you get to read about are not especially fantastic, innovative or revolutionary, they’re simply the ones with the biggest marketing budgets behind them.

Anyway, having read about the latest rounds of investment fund-raising of Instagram, Vine and Uber, spinning the yarn of how life-changing and important these apps are to us all, it was a comment by an anonymous reader, posted at the end of this promotional hype, that struck me the most:

“There are already too many apps. By the time the billionth app makes its appearance in about 2 years or so, I don’t think I’m going to be remotely interested in hearing about it.

It has already gotten impossible to search for an app in the appian jungle (particularly on the endless scrolling of a tiny phone screen), and when you do find something potentially useful, there are six or seven same-sounding yet different variations from various sources and it’s impossible to distinguish which is the best one without wasting a huge amount of time researching. Then, when you do find an app you want, it takes even more precious time to figure out how it works, input the necessary information and to re-orient your life around it.

I’m soon going to be tempted to shut the app world out completely, because the search for “convenient” apps is clearly the single most inconvenient feature of modern life.”

Being an independent app developer myself, I find it very difficult to get any kind of traction in the App Store these days, without comprehensive and expensive advertising campaigns. This has been the growing case for the last 2 years but this year, 2014, seems especially hard to get any significant sales underway with each new app I submit to the Store. Free apps shift quite easily, yet paid apps barely move at all. It’s as if no-one is prepared to pay for apps any more and the expectation is that all apps should be free, forever.

Then, up pops “Flappy Bird”, a not especially clever or innovative app at all, along with its hundreds of cheap replica rip-offs, attempting to cash in on its popularity. It originally sat in the App Store, undiscovered for months, then went viral on YouTube and “Hey Presto”, it roars away by the thousands, making a very tidy income for it’s young developer.

I think it’s great that “Flappy Bird”, an app made on a Mac in the corner of a bedroom, can do so well and make an independent developer so successful but without the unexpected exposure brought about by a viral YouTube appearance, how would anyone have found it in amongst the ever growing number of apps which congest and confuse the App Store search engines.

As ever, more apps continue to arrive in the App Store, at a rate of nearly 3,500 a week, so how on Earth is anyone expected to find, by chance the occasional good one!

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