Under the Radar

19: Improving the App Store, Part 1


00:00:00   Welcome to Under the Radar,

00:00:01   a show about independent iOS app development.

00:00:03   I'm Marco Arment.

00:00:05   - And I'm David Smith.

00:00:06   Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes,

00:00:08   so let's get started.

00:00:10   So today we're going to unpack some of the things

00:00:14   that we think might make the App Store better.

00:00:17   And if you were a listener to Developing Perspective,

00:00:20   the show I did before this one,

00:00:21   you might know that about a year ago

00:00:23   I did a long, long series,

00:00:25   actually it may have been two years ago,

00:00:26   I did a long series about things that I thought

00:00:29   make the App Store better. And we both kind of make our livings inside of the App Store.

00:00:34   And so, as you would imagine, we have a lot of concerns, thoughts, goals, like things

00:00:39   we think about in the App Store, because it's a place we spend a lot of time both as a customer

00:00:44   but also as a producer. It's easy, I think, for us to look at the App Store and to just

00:00:50   kind of like whine about it, to look at it and say, "Oh, I wish it did this, I wish

00:00:54   it did that." Like, we all have some kind of like pet things that we think might make

00:00:58   better for whatever the better might mean to us. But it's challenging. It's difficult

00:01:02   for us to perhaps take the step back and say, "The App Store is the way it is, and whining

00:01:11   about that isn't going to change it." We can look at it and we can learn from it, and it's

00:01:15   like our job as developers is to understand how we can make a living inside of it as it

00:01:21   exists and hope that Apple is doing things on their end to make it better. But from the

00:01:27   outside, it seems like sometimes when I think about the App Store too much, I start to get

00:01:31   sad. And I go and, when I'm trying to be a good student of the App Store and understand

00:01:35   what's being successful, what's working, I go to the top grossing list, which isn't necessarily

00:01:40   the most constructive place, because that's not really the kind of apps I'm making. But

00:01:44   I go there and I look at the top grossing app, which right now as a recording is Clash

00:01:50   Royale. And I go to its IAP list and it's like, "What would you like to buy? A fistful

00:01:55   of gems, a pouch of gems, a bucket of gems, a barrel of gems, a mountain of gems, or a

00:01:59   wagon load of gems.

00:02:01   Wait, is that really what I thought you were joking?

00:02:03   No, no, no.

00:02:04   That is the list of the top in-app purchases in the top grossing app right now.

00:02:09   Oh, that's so sad.

00:02:10   And it's kind of sad too when I think about like I go to WWDC every year and almost always

00:02:15   they'll have like Apple will have a big slide that talks about how much money they've paid

00:02:19   out to developers.

00:02:20   Last year it was something like $14 billion or something.

00:02:24   And rather than that being exciting and encouraging and being like, "Yeah, let's do this, guys,"

00:02:29   it just kind of makes me sad because I look at that number and I just think, "Well, I

00:02:32   guess that's a lot of wagons full of gems."

00:02:35   And that's just not great.

00:02:37   Yeah, I mean, that number, outside of any information on the distribution of those stats,

00:02:44   the media might be a little more interesting, although honestly it would probably be pretty

00:02:47   sad too, just in the opposite direction.

00:02:50   But yeah, when you have these mega-hit games that are bringing in hundreds of thousands

00:02:55   of dollars a day or more, that's roughly what we're talking about here.

00:03:00   You could be bringing in millions of dollars a day.

00:03:02   From our perspective, it's really easy to look at that and be like, "Wow, why am I

00:03:06   even in the App Store if that's what succeeds?"

00:03:08   But that's not a very productive way to look at it or encouraging way to look at it.

00:03:12   I think a better way to look at it is we aren't even playing the same game as these people,

00:03:17   And what we need to be concerned about is,

00:03:19   is there a game that we can play here?

00:03:21   Like, is there a spot for us in the App Store

00:03:24   where we can succeed?

00:03:25   I think there's enough apps by smaller shops

00:03:29   that aren't abusive games like this.

00:03:31   There's enough apps that do succeed

00:03:33   that the answer to that is almost certainly,

00:03:36   yes, there is a spot.

00:03:38   But that doesn't mean necessarily

00:03:39   that it's easy to get into one of those spots.

00:03:42   Although it might not necessarily need to be easy.

00:03:45   But that also doesn't mean that Apple's doing everything

00:03:48   they can to make sure the rest of the store is healthy

00:03:51   besides just that top grossing list.

00:03:53   And there's lots of areas, I think,

00:03:54   for potential improvement that we're gonna talk about.

00:03:56   - Yeah, and I think it's one thing,

00:03:58   the thing that motivated, I think, this discussion,

00:04:00   why I wanted to sort of talk about it now,

00:04:02   is that if the first time in a long time,

00:04:05   I feel like there's outward signs that the App Store

00:04:09   is going to be changing this year.

00:04:13   and most significant of which is Phil Schiller

00:04:16   has now taken responsibility for it,

00:04:19   which I mean, I think Phil is awesome

00:04:20   and that's really encouraging to me,

00:04:22   but even just the simple fact of there's a change

00:04:24   in leadership there, that there's a change

00:04:26   in responsibility, like in my mind can only be good.

00:04:31   And I think I'm encouraged that even Phil

00:04:33   has kind of publicly, in a few random sort of tweets

00:04:36   or things, when people are bringing to his attention,

00:04:38   like there's weird issues in the App Store,

00:04:40   like I'll probably have a link in the show notes

00:04:42   tweet someone sent him showing a sort of like a featured area in the App Store for the puzzle

00:04:47   games, and it's just full, chock full of the 2048 clones. And you kind of have the, and

00:04:53   he, you know, his response to that is like, "That shouldn't happen. We'll look into it.

00:04:57   Thank you." And the fact that that kind of thing is even happening at any level makes

00:05:02   me encouraged. And so I think we wanted to do for the rest of the episode is to kind

00:05:05   of think through what are some things that we would like to see done, you know? Like

00:05:09   If we were sitting down in a room with Phil and he was like,

00:05:13   "As independent developers, what could I do

00:05:15   "to make the App Store better for you?

00:05:17   "What would that be?"

00:05:19   And think through what that would actually be

00:05:21   and things that we could think about

00:05:22   that would make the App Store an objectively better place,

00:05:26   both as a customer or as someone

00:05:28   who makes their living in it.

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00:07:12   All right.

00:07:12   I think that one of the biggest things I'd like to see,

00:07:15   I just wanna see signs of motion,

00:07:17   signs that Apple believes that this isn't as good

00:07:20   as it could be and is willing to take the steps

00:07:23   to prioritize real change and experimentation

00:07:27   and improvement in the App Store.

00:07:28   Because the App Store is now just under eight years old.

00:07:32   For being almost eight, it really has not changed very much

00:07:35   from the way it was launched.

00:07:37   There have been small improvements here and there,

00:07:39   but almost unchanged.

00:07:41   The entire industry, Apple included,

00:07:44   have we learned nothing since it started?

00:07:46   Obviously we've learned something.

00:07:48   So I think it's upon Apple to just show

00:07:52   that they're willing to make changes over time

00:07:55   as we learn what works, what doesn't,

00:07:58   what's healthy, what's not.

00:07:59   And so far we've seen very little of that.

00:08:01   So that's what I, my number one hope

00:08:04   is not any one particular change,

00:08:06   but just I really hope that Apple just shows signs

00:08:09   of not being complacent, not thinking that what they have now

00:08:13   is the inevitable end and as good as it can get.

00:08:16   - I agree, yeah.

00:08:17   And I think seeing, like I said,

00:08:21   in some ways it's any change.

00:08:22   Like there are certainly things that,

00:08:23   like pet things that I would like,

00:08:25   and which we'll certainly talk about,

00:08:26   But just having a sense that the App Store is going somewhere, and that I could--

00:08:32   like, if I look towards my own personal future of, like,

00:08:36   should this be the place that I'm making my living,

00:08:39   if it seems like it's sort of getting worse and worse,

00:08:43   or at least sort of has plateaued at a not great level,

00:08:47   that's not an encouraging thing to look forward to

00:08:50   and to seek to kind of invest my time and energy into,

00:08:54   versus something that seems like,

00:08:55   even if it's just a slow incremental process

00:08:57   of getting better and better, that would be great.

00:08:59   That would be encouraging.

00:09:00   Like that would be motivating

00:09:01   and something that would make it feel more worthwhile

00:09:06   to put all the time and attention

00:09:09   that I'm putting into the App Store currently.

00:09:12   - Yeah, I mean, that's, because I feel like where it is now

00:09:16   is not in a very encouraging place for people like us.

00:09:19   Right now, we can get by, but it's hard,

00:09:23   and there's not a lot of headroom.

00:09:25   It doesn't feel like it's on its way up anymore.

00:09:28   It feels like it's on its way down,

00:09:30   at least for people like us, you know?

00:09:32   And it feels like we have fewer and fewer options

00:09:35   over time of like how to make a decent living

00:09:37   in the App Store.

00:09:38   A lot of this is just market forces at work here.

00:09:41   A lot of this is not within Apple's control to change.

00:09:44   By far, the biggest problem in the App Store

00:09:46   for indies to get by is just that there's a massive amount

00:09:51   of relentless competition, not only for exactly

00:09:55   the same things that your apps do,

00:09:58   like if I release a podcast app,

00:10:00   there's already a whole bunch of podcast apps out there.

00:10:02   So that's problem number one.

00:10:04   Problem number two, anything I do in mine

00:10:07   that will be different or noteworthy,

00:10:09   other people will be able to do as well.

00:10:11   I don't have any kind of magical abilities

00:10:14   that nobody else can duplicate.

00:10:16   Anybody can do the same things I do.

00:10:18   And if you have an app that is popular at all,

00:10:21   that will happen because number three,

00:10:23   there are absolutely tons of developers out there.

00:10:28   They all are trying to make the same living

00:10:29   out of the same pie and the pie is growing

00:10:31   but so is that pool of developers.

00:10:33   And then finally number four,

00:10:35   there are lots of other things competing

00:10:37   for everyone's attention all the time

00:10:39   on their phones as well.

00:10:40   So even if your app does pretty well

00:10:42   against other similar apps,

00:10:44   you're also competing with literally everything else

00:10:46   they have available on their phone

00:10:47   which is everything in the consumer web world right now

00:10:50   basically, so you're competing with those top grossing games

00:10:53   or instead of listening to a podcast,

00:10:55   they could choose to go play Clash or whatever.

00:10:57   So you are competing with all of those things.

00:11:00   Because this is the hot place to be,

00:11:03   the level of competition is just immense and ruthless.

00:11:08   - Yeah, and I think I was, before the show,

00:11:10   I went and took a look at just trying to quantify

00:11:13   just how big the App Store is

00:11:16   and how much it's continuing to even grow,

00:11:18   And honestly, at the end of looking at all this,

00:11:21   I just had tremendous sympathy for the poor app reviewers.

00:11:24   'Cause right now in the app store,

00:11:25   I think they're, I found a couple of conflicting numbers,

00:11:28   but the number's somewhere in the ballpark

00:11:29   of around two million apps.

00:11:31   And it seems like they're being added to the store

00:11:35   at roughly 2,000 a day.

00:11:38   Seems to be the best number I could get

00:11:39   kind of looking around, which means that during this show,

00:11:42   like during 30 minutes of this show,

00:11:44   something like 42 apps will have launched.

00:11:46   And that's just new apps.

00:11:47   - That's crazy.

00:11:48   It doesn't let even updates.

00:11:49   The poor people in App Review, I don't even

00:11:51   know how to conceive of the workload

00:11:54   that those poor people must have.

00:11:57   Even you can't release apps that quickly.

00:11:59   Even me.

00:11:59   I mean, I'm famous for having lots of apps.

00:12:01   And I look at this, and it's like how--

00:12:03   the first thing that I think that Apple

00:12:05   needs to work on is understanding

00:12:07   if they're going to do something about that.

00:12:09   Early on in the App Store, they used to always get up on stage

00:12:12   and talk about-- now we have 100,000 apps.

00:12:15   Now we have 500,000 apps.

00:12:17   Now we have a million apps,

00:12:18   as though having a big number were something desirous.

00:12:22   And in the early stages, maybe it was,

00:12:24   to say when they were first building out the app store,

00:12:27   it was an important thing to have lots of apps

00:12:29   and to cover all the different goals and things

00:12:32   that people might wanna do on their phones.

00:12:34   But my suspicion is at this point,

00:12:35   that of those, say, 2,000 new apps every day,

00:12:38   I can't imagine all of them,

00:12:41   or at least even the majority of them,

00:12:43   are really adding to the platform

00:12:45   and making it better and stronger.

00:12:47   and puts a tremendous load, I'm sure, on the app review team.

00:12:49   And so it means that you and I, when we submit a bug fix

00:12:52   update, say we have some problem in our app, we submit it,

00:12:55   we have to wait at least a week to get it reviewed and out

00:12:57   into the store.

00:12:59   And I can't imagine--

00:13:00   I've got to imagine some of that is coming from just

00:13:02   the sheer volume of junk.

00:13:04   And say 2,000 is the right number.

00:13:06   It's like 2,000 a day new apps are being approved.

00:13:10   What's the number of apps that are getting rejected?

00:13:13   Oh, boy.

00:13:14   It's just got to--

00:13:15   There's got to be things that Apple can do on that end.

00:13:17   And I don't know if it's changing the review guidelines, making it so that there's some

00:13:21   kind of extra barriers to actually submitting apps, to try and make, or being just sort

00:13:27   of harsher in app review and having higher standards on sort of a more editorial opinionated

00:13:34   side to make it so that people get the idea.

00:13:37   So very quickly you would expect that if the process of just sort of putting sort of not

00:13:43   high-level apps into the App Store became unsuccessful, after a while people would stop

00:13:48   doing that. It would be a waste of time and not really worth the effort or something.

00:13:51   Yeah, but that's so risky, though. Anything they do to try to make subjective judgments,

00:13:57   I feel like, is just asking for trouble. Because they already have a lot of these things now,

00:14:02   and they do often get crap for making a bad decision, usually warranted. Anything they

00:14:07   do to try to say, "Okay, well now your app doesn't have to just follow these rules,"

00:14:11   It also has to be like worthy a little bit, to some degree.

00:14:14   Even if it's just a minor degree,

00:14:16   this has to be like worthy of being included in the store.

00:14:19   It has to have value to somebody.

00:14:20   And they already define that minimum functionality rule,

00:14:23   which is vague, and that just refers

00:14:25   to a level of functionality.

00:14:27   What if there was also a level of minimum quality?

00:14:29   Again, there have been rules that kind of alluded to this

00:14:31   in the guidelines since the beginning,

00:14:33   but they haven't really been enforced very much.

00:14:35   The problem though is that this isn't just like

00:14:37   Phil Schiller making those decisions.

00:14:39   This is probably hundreds of employees in AppReview

00:14:43   who all have to be making those decisions constantly.

00:14:46   They're not gonna be able to kick every one of them

00:14:48   up to a manager for approval,

00:14:50   so you're gonna have to,

00:14:51   they have to come up with rules

00:14:53   that can be consistently enforced with a large staff.

00:14:57   The more room for subjectivity there is,

00:15:00   the harder it is to achieve consistency,

00:15:01   and they already have issues with this.

00:15:04   Anything they do to make the rules

00:15:06   to basically raise the bar

00:15:07   of their minimum quality standards,

00:15:09   they're gonna get so many more problematic rejections,

00:15:12   so much more bad press about problematic rejections,

00:15:15   and they're gonna have people like us complaining.

00:15:17   So it's a hard balance to strike.

00:15:19   I don't think they've struck the right balance yet.

00:15:22   Certainly, raising the bar is challenging.

00:15:25   - Oh, sure, yeah.

00:15:26   I mean, and I look at that and it's like,

00:15:27   I don't envy how they would make the decision.

00:15:30   But it seems like it's either you have to

00:15:32   take the approach of the Google Play Store.

00:15:35   The bar is, is this basically functional and not malware?

00:15:40   At least conceptually.

00:15:41   I'm not a Google Play expert,

00:15:43   but the app review process there

00:15:44   is much more streamlined and straightforward.

00:15:46   It says best I understand it.

00:15:48   Where you have very low bars

00:15:50   and you approach the problem almost more

00:15:54   on the demand side rather than the supply side.

00:15:57   You just let anybody who wants to have an app

00:15:59   be in the store.

00:16:00   If you do that, you just need to build the store itself,

00:16:03   like the front end into that,

00:16:04   such that users can very easily and quickly get away from things that aren't great and

00:16:11   are driven towards things that are good.

00:16:13   Because I think you could probably say the ultimate goal of the App Store, if you had

00:16:17   to try and boil that down, is that any time a customer downloads an app, they're getting

00:16:22   a good experience.

00:16:24   That would be a reasonable goal for what the App Store is trying to do, that a user says,

00:16:28   "I have a need," or "I want to be amused or entertained," or whatever it is.

00:16:32   and they go to the App Store, that the things that they find there are going to give them

00:16:38   a positive experience.

00:16:40   And there's a lot of things that the Apple could do, maybe on the editorial side, to

00:16:44   dramatically improve that structure.

00:16:47   Where right now, in the App Store app, there's the featured area, the top charts area, and

00:16:53   the explore area.

00:16:55   The featured area, I think they do a pretty good job.

00:16:57   There are very rarely things in that first tab of the App Store that I look at and I

00:17:01   I see, and that I'm like, "If someone downloaded that, they're going to have a bad experience."

00:17:07   If in the top charts area, it starts to get a lot more questionable, and there's a little

00:17:11   bit of self-filtering of that, that obviously people, in order to be on one of those lists,

00:17:17   lots of people had to have thought that your app was good, but it starts to get more questionable.

00:17:22   And then you get into the Explore tab, like that poor third tab in the App Store app,

00:17:25   which has been three or four different things over the last eight years, and just feels

00:17:30   like it's always turning over and it never quite finds its way, but that's the place

00:17:34   that you'll start to very quickly get into areas where the quality or at least the robustness

00:17:41   of those apps becomes more and more problematic as you go.

00:17:45   And it's like, maybe if Apple can't fix it on the review side, maybe it's just,

00:17:50   "Let's just focus on editorial.

00:17:52   Let's staff up dramatically, really go through the App Store."

00:17:55   And it's like, if we think these apps aren't good, maybe we just flag them as such, and

00:18:00   We say, like, you know, this is a B app,

00:18:02   and it's not gonna show up in certain places,

00:18:03   or it's gonna be very B prioritized

00:18:05   in the way that people can find it,

00:18:07   but it's still there?

00:18:08   Like, I don't know, is that better?

00:18:10   - I hope they would do something like that

00:18:11   behind the scenes, though I figure they probably aren't.

00:18:13   But if they did, it would probably not be wise

00:18:16   for us to know about that.

00:18:17   (laughs)

00:18:18   You know? - Sure.

00:18:19   - 'Cause I think that would cause issues.

00:18:21   You know, ultimately, what we want Apple to do

00:18:24   is to make it easier for apps like ours

00:18:27   to be successful and to be found by people in the App Store.

00:18:31   But it's worth challenging the assumption

00:18:33   that our apps are better.

00:18:34   You know, like if you look at what's actually

00:18:37   in the App Store and if you look at that top grossing list

00:18:39   and you see what succeeds, it's probably hard

00:18:42   for Apple to look at that and think they have

00:18:44   to do anything differently than what they're doing now

00:18:46   in like content choosing or steering the rules

00:18:50   in such a way to encourage or discourage different types

00:18:52   of apps than what they're getting now.

00:18:54   because what they're doing now is working very well,

00:18:57   just not for people like us,

00:18:58   but it's working very well for some people

00:19:00   and it's working very well by many metrics

00:19:03   for Apple's customers.

00:19:05   In the way that people are downloading a bunch of apps,

00:19:07   they are playing these games and putting their coins in,

00:19:09   it does work for a lot of people now, just not us.

00:19:14   So is that really a problem?

00:19:17   Like do you think Apple sees it as a problem

00:19:19   and do you think it actually is a problem?

00:19:21   - It's a tough question 'cause it's really hard

00:19:22   to separate, obviously, my own personal views and business from the more objective, if this

00:19:29   was not what I did, and I was just someone who just went to the Apple store, bought an

00:19:33   iPhone and opened up the app store.

00:19:37   And it is definitely a trap, and I think you're sort of right to point it out, in these types

00:19:42   of discussions in our community, that you can very easily slip into the very subjective,

00:19:48   like, indie apps are better kind of a mindset. And you end up with like, well, it's like,

00:19:54   if there's not a vibrant, independent community of app makers that somehow like the world

00:20:00   is a sad and terrible place. And, you know, you could argue in some ways, it's like, you

00:20:04   know, smaller companies tend to take bigger risks. And so more innovation happens or those

00:20:08   types of kind of more justifications. In some ways, what I hope is that if Apple is happy

00:20:13   with the majority of successful businesses in the App Store or a lot of the money for

00:20:19   the App Store, whatever, coming from those types of games and even just being game-focused

00:20:22   in general. It's games and big companies. In the top 10 grossing apps, there are other

00:20:29   things that aren't games. There's things like Spotify or services like that, big companies.

00:20:34   The reality is, and the hard thing to say to myself is, maybe that's fine with Apple

00:20:40   and they're totally cool with that. And in some ways, their actions thus far indicate that they

00:20:44   are. And there's the introspection of saying, "If that's the reality, am I just in the wrong place?"

00:20:52   At this point, it's not something that I really want to make a change about. I'm not saying,

00:20:58   "Oh, I want to get out of the App Store." When I look at that, I'm like, "Maybe at some point,

00:21:01   I will have to, though, because it would just sort of not be economically viable to do what I do,

00:21:08   and that would make me sad. But yeah, it's not up to me to decide what goes into the App Store,

00:21:13   or what apps should the App Store be geared around making viable. Obviously, I'd like for it to be

00:21:20   more viable for me, and I think you could make a reasonable argument that it's important to have

00:21:25   some base level of the smaller developers like us filling in cracks and pushing boundaries.

00:21:30   When new things come out, I've made my business in a lot of ways about watching Apple and how they

00:21:37   push new technology out in their phones or in iOS, looking for new opportunities, and

00:21:45   as soon as I can, jumping on those. And being able to take advantage of being smaller and

00:21:49   being able to make those kinds of decisions that maybe bigger companies can't. And that

00:21:54   seems like a good thing, but it's very selfish and self-centered to say, "If the App Store

00:21:59   doesn't make my business model work, then it's not good."

00:22:03   Now, the way that the App Store bothers me now though with like what succeeds and what

00:22:07   doesn't, you know, not only from just like a, you know, an obvious like envy that those

00:22:11   aren't my apps in the top grossing position, but what bothers me that I think might be

00:22:16   relevant here to Apple and to the users is that the apps that succeed today, I think,

00:22:22   make the iPhone look a bit like a cheap flea market. It is not like a high fashion or a

00:22:30   high quality branding angle that we see now today with like all these, you know, basically

00:22:37   like casino games. They're not, this is not like a classy great experience for a lot

00:22:43   of people and it doesn't make Apple's products look good to know that most people

00:22:48   are using them most of the time to like, you know, throw coins into a psychologically abusive

00:22:54   game that their friends and family made them obligated to play. I don't know. Obviously

00:23:01   people, it's a little bit snobby of me to say it because obviously a lot of people do

00:23:04   enjoy these games and are perfectly fine with that and I don't want to diminish their enjoyment

00:23:09   of those. But do you think from Apple's point of view, do you think that's really what they

00:23:12   want the iPhone to be in practice? Do they care and does that really fit the way they

00:23:19   want to brand this device?

00:23:20   I wouldn't think so. I mean, this is the funny thing. I was a fan of Apple before I was an

00:23:27   Apple developer. And the thing that I think is so... At a fundamental level, when I try

00:23:34   and think of the things that I associate with Apple and with their brand more generally,

00:23:41   is that there's a certain amount of trying to be more... It's more aspirational in the

00:23:47   the sense of they're trying to make it better. They're not just trying to make a basic works

00:23:54   is sufficient is fine phone. They're trying to make the best of anything. And in most

00:24:01   of the things that they do, whether or not they hit it or not is a whole other question.

00:24:06   But their goal, their mission is to make the best and to have, when you go into an Apple

00:24:13   store that you always come out with a good experience. They're not trying to be mediocre

00:24:18   or sufficient, they're always trying to be better. And if you would apply that kind of

00:24:23   mindset to the app store, you would imagine you'd end up with a different app store. If

00:24:29   they're willing to take that risk of, you know, they don't make the hundreds of different

00:24:35   variations of the iPhone, they try and make one that's really, really good and is the

00:24:40   the best. And in the same way, it's like they rather than trying to have all the different,

00:24:44   you know, it's like you go into an Apple store, it doesn't feel like going into Walmart. It's

00:24:48   like the App Store is much more like going into Walmart or something like that. Or worse.

00:24:52   Yeah, but it's that kind of a feeling, right? It's like, you go in and you see a charger,

00:24:56   whatever, you know, some iPhone accessory on the wall of an Apple store, and you expect

00:25:02   that that is going to be good, you know, it meets a certain basic level of criteria versus

00:25:07   Because if you go into Walmart or you go into Amazon and you're presented with probably

00:25:12   ten times the number of choices, you have a much harder decision and you're in a harder

00:25:18   position to make that choice because they haven't curated it for you.

00:25:22   They haven't looked at it and said, "We think these are the best," or "These are the ones

00:25:27   that you should try."

00:25:29   And I would hope that if they did that same kind of mindset onto the App Store that you

00:25:32   could end up with a better experience, and a better place overall, and one that would

00:25:35   fit the Apple brand better. The Google Play Store, I think, makes sense for Google. That's

00:25:41   sort of their thing. We index all the information everywhere. Their sort of mindset around having

00:25:48   a store that isn't strongly curated in the same way, it seems like that would be a better

00:25:53   fit potentially. But Apple could potentially take the other extreme and say, "You know

00:25:57   what? This is where we're going to go." I think that would fit for them. Ultimately,

00:26:01   obviously, I would like that, I think.

00:26:03   I would too. I mean like I was getting on a plane recently and I wanted to download

00:26:08   a whole bunch of like new good games and seeing what was actually successful in the top charts

00:26:12   and just trying to find good games for myself to play on the plane. Like if nothing else

00:26:18   the App Store should have tons of good games, right? But I honestly had a lot of trouble

00:26:21   finding any that had any kind of depth whatsoever. Most of them are like, you know, really like

00:26:26   stupid, simple, like shallow things that like you play it for 10 seconds like, "Oh, that's

00:26:31   it is? Okay. Like, it was actually really hard to find good stuff. I feel like we need

00:26:37   better stuff in the App Store, and we need Apple to think about how they can get better

00:26:43   stuff in there, how they can incentivize and sustain the development of better apps, not

00:26:48   just more apps.

00:26:49   >> Yeah, and I think there's some big problems here around, like, it's like the old, what

00:26:54   they call it, the broken window problem. You know, where you have, if you're in a neighborhood,

00:26:59   if you had a house that is derelict and has some broken windows in it. It starts to affect

00:27:10   things that even aren't just that one house. If the bar and the expectation for going to

00:27:15   the app store isn't high enough, it's going to have knock-on effects to lots of other

00:27:20   apps. And you end up with customers who have different expectations. They'll look at the

00:27:26   the App Store and say, "I think about our discussion last week about pricing," where

00:27:35   it's harder in some ways to convince someone to have a paid upfront app and to download

00:27:41   it. And some of that, I could imagine, is coming from a place of, A, there's a tremendous

00:27:46   competition which is always going to have a downward pressure on pricing, but also if

00:27:52   If you don't have good expectations that what you're downloading is going to be good, is

00:27:58   going to be worth it because you've been burned before, that's going to discourage you from

00:28:04   going ahead and downloading other apps and paying for them up front.

00:28:08   So you end up with more free apps, and if your app is free, then you have this vicious

00:28:13   cycle because the amount of time that you can justify putting into something if you

00:28:19   expect to only be able to make money back from it, either from consumable in a purchase

00:28:25   or even if you're just putting it out with ads in it. You're sort of the value of each

00:28:30   customer to you, and for the downside of having a customer have a bad experience, it just

00:28:34   continues to shrink down in kind of this negative cycle.

00:28:38   Exactly. All right, well, we're out of time today. I think we're going to continue this

00:28:43   discussion next week and with maybe some specific suggestions on how Apple can really make the

00:28:49   App Store better, specific areas that might be worth experimenting with. So thanks a lot

00:28:53   for listening and we will talk to you next week.

00:28:55   Bye.

00:28:55   Bye.

00:28:56   Thank you.

00:28:57   [ Silence ]