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.

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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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