Apple is clearly the leader in the app ecosystem – with the most and highest quality apps – for both handsets and tablets. The iTunes App Store is the best app store in the market. Yet even Apple has seen fit to make a significant investment in app discovery through its acquisition of Chomp last week. Why?Soon after launching the iPhone, as competitors such as RIM tried to compete on hardware specs, Apple focused on ease of use and the utility of the apps. That strategy has been incredibly successful.
As Robert Scoble repeatedly points out, platform success is about great developers creating great apps. And great developers create great apps when the platform owner can help drive success through superior app discovery and promotion, as Apple currently can through the App Store. Apple has taken the playbook to the iPad and to the Mac. The migration of more and more core iOS features to MacOS again will serve to make apps and app discovery central to the consumer experience.
So Apple’s acquisition is an investment into a strategic thrust, driving the app ecosystem through better discovery.
We fully expect to see this exact same strategy when Apple releases its long-rumoured television product. We expect when Apple TV launches there will be hundreds of thousands of apps that will work pretty well, and hundreds of top tier app developers devoting resources to the platform knowing that app discovery will be there.
What does this mean for the rest of the market? We believe this will help catalyze the broader app ecosystem to get serious about app discovery and its importance in creating great consumer platform experiences and loyalty. In order to compete effectively against Apple and its tailwind, handset, tablet, PC and TV OEMs must significantly develop superior app discovery services to both drive consumer loyalty and give developers the “carrot” to focus on their platforms. These discovery experiences must be more than just search; they need to include personalised recommendations, apps from friends, trending apps, ample promotional inventory and mechanisms, and editorial reviews and roundups. OEMs need to find ways to make available thousands of Android apps that will work well on the new form factors. So the app discovery must also include the ability to gather apps from disparate sources and present optimised apps to users in an elegant manner.
With this investment in app discovery, we expect Apple to continue to take significant market share in existing and new markets. The good news for OEMs is that there are significant platform alternatives to Apple. There are hundreds of thousands of Android apps now available for multiple devices and form factors, and Windows 8 is all about apps.
To Appolicious, the acquisition validates the core premise behind our business: that app discovery is incredibly important, and incredibly difficult. Companies need to invest in app discovery to compete with Apple.
Note, Appolicious is currently powering app discovery for Android on Samsung devices, including the recently launched Samsung Note on AT&T. This is done through pre-loads that provide recommendations, apps from Facebook friends, search, paid search, categories and promoted apps. We also power app discovery for Best Buy for both iOS and Android, on both devices and on the web, with more partners to be announced.