The App Catalog has been around for a little less than a year and as of today there are over 3,000 applications. That’s a generous number when you consider the “apps” released by Brighthouse Labs, Appible, AppBookShop and others that help pad this number. Even on the high side, it does not come close to the 200,000 applications in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market that is close to 100,000 apps. From the beginning, Palm has pitched the quality over quantity argument. At the same time, they most certainly realize the importance of these quantity numbers. Lackluster numbers result in less developer interest and a perception among consumers that Palm’s App Catalog won’t offer enough applications to meet their needs. As we approach the one year anniversary of the App Catalog, here are a few suggestions on how to improve the App Catalog.
The current method of categorization allows apps to find their way into multiple categories. In my opinion, this has helped Palm fill the virtual app shelves by allowing apps in categories that may or may not be relevant. Let’s use Twee as an example. Palm’s App Catalog has a Twitter category and Twee can be found in that category. It’s also found in Chat and General. Let developers select the proper category for their app. One category. Proper categorization would limit the number of apps within a category. More importantly, as a consumer, you can easily locate apps that are specific to the category selected. I’ve used Twee as an example, but it’s not a problem that is specific to a single developer and it’s hardly an isolated issue. TweetMe, another Twitter client, can be found in “Special Interest”. These are just two apps. Magnify this problem by three thousand apps.
Hottest Apps should be Best Sellers
Like so many of you, I went shopping during Palm’s big half-off all apps sale. One of the the three choices upon enter the App Catalog are “Hottest Apps”. One would think this would represent the best selling applications over a prescribed timeframe. We’ve got big problems if these are the best selling applications in the App Catalog. It’s the middle of July. Unless we’re looking at the best selling apps in Canada, Hockey Live! shouldn’t be listed. Granted, you can sort based upon downloads. By defaulting to ratings, the initial offering isn’t likely to offer any inspiring selections. Instead of showing all 3,000 applications, Palm should offer up the top 100 best selling applications over the previous 60 days. When I visit the App Catalog and select “Hottest Apps”, I want to see apps that are selling well over the past month or so.
Easy Access To Free and Only Categories
This will make it easy for people looking for nothing but free apps. On the flip side, it also makes it easier to wade through the available paid apps. Since developers can offer free versions of their app, they still have an opportunity for the up sell. This could be achieved by either making these top level categories or by allowing a filter.
What’s New Should Be What’s New
Point releases should not be included in what’s new. For one, it’s not new. Secondly, it’s way too easy to game the App Catalog. Each point release puts you at the top of the App Catalog under “What’s New”. Right now, there is entirely too much incentive to push out meaningless updates. Even if this isn’t happening on a wide scale basis, it needs to be improved before the App Catalog sees rapid expansion.
Nothing worse than browsing the App Catalog and seeing white boxes with icons within them. If they aren’t in place yet, there should be design requirements for application icons. Even Android has icon requirements and the Android Market is full of ugly.
On this last one, admittedly I’m nitpicking here. I’m not sure why, but I cringe when I see oddball pricing for an application. Developers can still price their application at fifty cent increments starting at $0.49.
App Catalog Spam
There are options in Homebrew that block certain developers from appearing. That’s a start, but how do we correct the situation for the average joe who isn’t interested in homebrew, but wants an App Catalog that’s not littered with junk titles.
We all want more high-quality apps and that’s understandable. If we can improve the App Catalog experience, it would be easier to find excellent titles that exist now and going forward. This benefits end users, developers and ultimately Palm.
How would you improve the App Catalog?