With the Android app store hitting the seven figure mark, it is high time that Google bring some rationality to its Android app market. Sure, having 975,000 phone apps is not a bad thing, but the numbers is both relevant and irrelevant. It is relevant because smaller ecosystems with over 100,000 apps, like those for BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone lack a lot of the top apps and games. On the other hand, it is irrelevant because most Android owners will never be able to actually view the 975,000 available apps. Just trying to go through all those apps is a daunting task, if at all possible. See, if you spent just ten seconds looking at each app, it would take you over 100 days without sleep.
Google has tried to make quality apps more visible with its Editor’s Choice and Staff Pick’s categories. It has also tried to help you find apps relevant to you with its Recommended for You category. Unfortunately, in its efforts to do this, Google has left the app store open allowing in the occasional fake app or malware-ridden app for a few days until its personnel or Bouncer malware scanner is able to remove them.
But really, it is time Google spent more time cleaning up the mess for users who want it cleaned up by providing a smaller more secure and curated app store, which I will call “Google Select.” Paradoxically, people want an ecosystem with a million apps, but do not want an app store with a million apps.
If you had 100 Android users each who installed 200, and by some miracle, none of them installed the same app, you would have 100 users downloading and installing a grand total of 20,000 apps. The reality is, only a few Android users would install 200 apps. Given that we spend 2-4 hours on our smartphones a day, there really is not enough time to use more than a score of apps in a day. Also, the most popular apps are installed by most Android users. So why not create a smaller app store for the average user, and allow the user to go into the wild wild west of a one million app store should they decide to do so?
This could be done by creating a second Android app store. In this second app store, only apps tested by a team designated for the purpose will be made available. Apps that are buggy or cause excessive battery drain would not be placed in Google Select. Where Google Play offers redundant apps, a sampling of the best will be placed on Google Play. Seriously, who needs 3000 apps to turn your LED flash into a flashlight? Updates of apps on Google Select will also be tightly curated. Apps that go from good to bad will be removed, and the user can still get updates to these apps via Google Play, with an explanation of why the app has been removed from Google Select.
In the end, you would have an app store of maybe 5,000 apps in an environment that offers even more security than Google Play does right now. On the one hand, this may alienate some app developers who will hurl accusations of favoritism. On the other hand, developers with truly innovative apps won’t get buried in the haystack, and users will have an easier time truly finding the best apps. This should stop the flow of me-too apps and spur real app innovation. Let the other app store focus on higher and higher app numbers.
Before you jump all over me, consider this. According to AppBrain, at the time of this writing, there are 849046 apps on Google Play, of which 23% are low quality apps. That’s almost 200,000 low quality apps. More apps than either the Windows Phone or BlackBerry app stores have in total. AppBrain determines the number of low quality apps there are using a detection filter that identifies apps which are unlikely to be useful. Google also seems to clean house from time to time resulting in app numbers going up and down.
I think it is time for Google to create a second app store where the best of the best can really shine and users are given an added measure of security.
Image Credit: AppBrain