iPhone 2.1 Is Great- Now We Need App Store 2.0

On October 27, 2008

As a newbie to the whole iTunes culture, I would like to take a moment to examine the App Store. 

It’s a relatively recent addition to iTunes but it takes advantage of the major difference between the iPod Touch/iPhone and all other forms of the iPod (and many other media players):  the ability to run programs.

The App Store has the same excellent level of organization as the iTunes store in general, whether using iTunes for the computer or the iTouch/iPhone itself.  Applications regarding a certain topic are relatively easy to find and the entire store is searchable for specific types of applications (such as using the term “workout” to search for exercise applications).  I particularly like how iTunes displays the Top Paid Apps and the Top Free Apps, so you know which apps you’re paying for (which leads to the fun task of treasure hunting.  That is, finding free apps that are worth more to you than the paid apps).  Being that the entire environment was developed by Apple, the graphics are superb.

The sheer volume of applications available is stunning.

There is no limit to the developer’s imagination when for all intents and purposes you have a mini-computer with multimedia capabilities in the palm of your hand.

I like the Power Search capabilities of the App Store.  You can search for a particular description, title or developer as well as whether the application is compatible with the iPod Touch or iPhone and if the app is free or not.

My first complaint about the App Store doesn’t even involve Apple Inc., but rather the developers they’ve licensed their iTouch/iPhone SDK to.  Basically, the pricing for the applications seems totally random.  For example, the only Tetris game in the entire library of the App Store is eight bucks.  Eight bucks for Tetris?  That’s a little steep, particularly when so many other interesting games are available free of charge.  I suppose it has to do with the name recognition value.  The same price is given for Scrabble.  Presumably, market forces would drive the prices to some sort of equilibrium.  Either that or developers will simply charge whatever comes to mind.

My second complaint is more about iTunes than the App Store.  There are so many applications offered that the home page feels kind of cluttered and finding certain features requires a bit of screen investigation.  While Apple’s audience tend to be more technically aware I’d think they would have a broader appeal if they could simplify the user interface a little without sacrificing selection.

One final minor complaint:  “books” are not “applications”.  It is another form of media along with video and music and should have its own separate store in iTunes rather than be a subset of applications.

The App Store is really what sets the iTouch/iPhone apart from other media players. It turns a multimedia player into a game console and PDA. (Other App Store-Like services are emerging but they will be laying catch-up for a long long time.) If Apple wants to keep marketing the iTouch/iPhone as something more than your standard media player or cell phone, it needs to concentrate on the App Store.  The App Store is very good, but with a little tweaking it could be better.