Ex-Apple executive says the App Store should be more like Reddit

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Since it first opened up in Julu of 2008, the App Store has paid developers over $13 billion at last count, and the marketplace hosts are over 1 million third-party programs. That makes the App Store a success by almost any measure… except discoverability.

Even today, the App Store can be extremely hard to navigate. Dominated by clones of popular apps and freemium crapware, good apps often get buried at the bottom of the App Store thanks to the App Store’s notoriously bad search engine and almost non-existent curation.

But former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée has a suggestion. Make the App Store more like Reddit. Let anonymous humans curate it.

Over on his website, Gassée makes an eloquent argument in favor of a human-curated App Store.

Instead of using algorithms to sort and promote the apps that you permit on your shelves, why not assign a small group of adepts to create and shepherd an App Store Guide, with sections such as Productivity, Photography, Education, and so on. Within each section, this team of respected but unnamed (and so “ungiftable”) critics will review the best-in-class apps. Moreover, they’ll offer seasoned opinions on must-have features, UI aesthetics, and tips and tricks. A weekly newsletter will identify notable new titles, respond to counter-opinions, perhaps present a developer profile, footnote the occasional errata and mea culpa…

The result will be a more intelligible App Store that makes iOS users happier.

Gassée points out that third-party app store guides exists, but there’s no way to make a focus on high-quality apps part of the default App Store experience without it becoming part of Apple’s direct ecosystem.

As a humorous anecdote, Gassée notes that he once offered to come back to Apple to lead just such an initiative for free at the All Things D conference a couple years ago, only to get the evil eye from longtime Apple PR chief Katie Cotton.

What do you think? Would human curation solve a lot of the App Store’s ills? Is it even possible for human to curate over a million apps? Let us know in the comments.

  • Windlasher

    Because its worked so well for Google Play Store then right? Self policing a blog site is one thing. Self policing a major source of income is quite another. Where there is money involved people tend to get greedy and morals can go by the wayside. This kind of thinking is one of the major reasons Gassée doesn’t live there anymore.

  • JeZal Daliuz

    I once had arguments with some mods in a reddit sub. From that moment, they’ve never let me post anything in any sub that they or their friends are mods. Imagine if this thing happened with the App Store. You wouldn’t be able to release any apps if some of them didn’t like you. Worst nightmare ever for a developer!

  • sigzero

    No, that is a awful idea.

  • http://www.thegraphicmac.com/ JimD

    Horrible idea. The App Store will end up just like Digg and Reddit… gamed, and completely run by a few prolific trolls who decide what apps get promoted and when.

  • digitaldumdum

    “Make the App Store more like Reddit. Let anonymous humans curate it.”

    Oh jeeeeez. And •this•, among a slew of other bonehead ideas and remarks, is why Gassée is an Apple Ex-Exec.

  • http://www.museumplanet.com David Brown

    Good for Jean-Louis Gassée. The store is beneath a disaster. I produce travel/tour aps for the iPad.. (www.MuseumPlanet.com). My 30 apps (each app better than any book) produced far less than $100.00 last week. What’s new. No one except a few gamers is making money. Apple has blown the entire app universe what with free craplets and junk advertorials apps. Good luck. Cause sooner or later this will come back to haunt the great Apple which listens to no one. But in the meantime the legit app makers are dying. Apple just had a header on their info page about what happens when a maker delete an app. The fall and decline is coming soon unless the Titanic changes its course. Quote me.

  • Ron Hawkins

    Tired of hearing from Gassée! He is so ex-Apple so long ago, his opinion is of marginal value. Same goes for Woz!

  • Jean-Louis Gassée

    I didn’t say “anonymous”. But thanks for picking up the latest Monday Note. Two things can make my suggestion work: Trust, an App Store Guide written by a group/organization with a clean/clera agenda of helping customers navigate the jungle; and clear, opinionated – this app works for this but not for that – writing.
    Organizing by sections isn’t hard. Nor is feeding the Guide week after week, and writing one weekly blog post.

    • http://ouriel.typepad.com OurielOhayon

      unfortunately, curation is far from enough…what the app store needs is a lot more complex: it needs personalization. and it needs search to work. and top categories to either go away or be based on something else than download velocity

      • Carlos

        Right. App Store needs BigData, NoSQL pattern matching and trend analysis of how people feel and flock to applications. Solr search and analytic output of what works and what is crap. Which app can be recommended, which not and why. Even some basic star symbols at first, that get analyzed and validated at recheck-use check. Users can get their money back if their honest report is voted up, etc…

    • BonzaiThePenguin

      You said “unnamed”, which is a synonym for “anonymous”.

    • James Gunaca

      Do you care to explain how this differs from the type of categorization and Spotlights that occur frequently in the app store already?

  • Carlos

    Sounds like Katie Cotton is a real Douchebag. I offered her a drink once, in a San Jose Hotel Bar and she opted for Vinegar&Water….. figures..

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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