There’s no question that Apple’s App Store is a resounding success. The company recently celebrated the beginning of 2015 by noting several important milestones in the App Store’s growth during 2014. According to Apple, the App Store generated over $10 billion in revenue for developers last year, bringing developers’ cumulative earnings to $25 billion since the online store opened in 2008. One of the reasons behind the App Store’s ability to generate such impressive levels of revenue is the sheer size of its library of apps. As noted by Apple, the App Store now offers over 1.4 million apps for its iOS-based mobile devices, including 725,000 apps optimized for the iPad. The size of the App Store is even more remarkable when considering that it debuted with only 500 apps in 2008.
While it would seem that having a greater number of apps to choose from could only be a positive attribute for an app store, in this case, success can bring its own set of unique problems. For the App Store and its similarly sized competitor Google Play, the overwhelming number of apps has resulted in an app discovery problem for many of its users. In other words, users have trouble finding apps that they may be interested in simply because there are so many apps to choose from.
However, a new partnership with social network app Pinterest may help alleviate the App Store’s app discovery problem. According to a press release from Pinterest, Apple users will now be able to discover and download App Store apps directly through the social media app. Users will also be able to save their favorite apps directly from the App Store into Pinterest.
As a social media platform that’s designed to help users share their favorite online discoveries with each other, Pinterest is the perfect tool to help Apple users find apps that are related to their interests. “Let’s say you’re Pinning workout inspiration to your Marathon Training board,” noted Pinterest in its announcement of the partnership. “If you see a fitness app that helps you reach your goals, you can download it right from Pinterest.” While App Store apps can be pinned to any Pinterest user’s page, Apple also introduced a dedicated App Store page on Pinterest that can be seen in the image above.
“We can be a really powerful service for app discovery, which is a problem that still really hasn’t been solved,” Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp told The New York Times. “Our specialty is really connecting people to the things they want to do.”
While the App Store already offers users the ability to browse apps by categories, each category still offers a daunting number of choices. For example, the “Health & Fitness” category in the App Store has over 2,300 apps to choose from just under the letter “A.”
The result of this gluttony of choices is that a large number of apps are never seen by users, much less downloaded. This issue was highlighted in a study done by app market research firm Adjust last year. Apps that fail to garner enough downloads to receive rankings in the Apple App Store top lists are deemed “zombie apps” by Adjust. According to Adjust, 79.6% of the App Store’s apps qualified as zombie apps during July 2014. While it’s unknown if that percentage has increased or decreased since last year, Adjust’s study suggested that the problem was only getting worse. In June 2013, only 70.4% of App Store apps qualified as zombies, compared to the nearly 80% level reached last summer.
Although the App Store clearly has an app discovery problem, it should be noted that this problem appears to be even more pronounced in rivals’ app stores. A 2013 study by Pfeiffer Consulting that compared the usability of the top three app stores, found that the App Store far outranked the Amazon Appstore and the Google Play online store in discovery services. Based on what each app store offered to “enhance serendipitous discovery of apps for a great variety of users and interests,” Pfeiffer Consulting awarded each app store a certain number of points out of a possible perfect 100 score.
Google Play received a score of 2.25, Amazon received an 8.4, and Apple received a 44. While Apple is obviously already doing a better job at app discovery than its main competitors, the use of Pinterest as an app discovery service for the App Store will hopefully bring its discovery assistance score even closer to the ideal score of 100.
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