Burn the App Store

I was reading this article, and the top section about the issue of value perception on the App Store got me thinking. That problem has gotten to me personally in the last couple of years. The whole setup strongly encourages reasonable users to download free apps instead of paid ones, even when the free apps will be much lower in quality. This disincentivizes anyone making truly great apps because the development will be impossible to pay for.

As part of a solution, I now put forth a modest proposal:

Apps which have not been updated in over a year should automatically be removed from the App Store.

This would kill all the apps that are no longer under development, which are frankly just low-hanging fruit. At minimum, this would provide a huge boost in quality and discoverability, without dead apps cluttering up the place. (I'd love to see some numbers on how many apps this would affect when it's switched on.) The removed apps could simply be "removed from sale," which would allow developers to reactivate them at any time.

I struggle to imagine an app that doesn't need at least some bug fix once a year, but I concede that they might exist. For those developers, this is slightly more work, but all they have to do is push a new build once a year to stay alive, and I would contend that overall it's still a pretty big benefit.

This would hurt the App Store app count, but I don't think that matters for a couple reasons. First, the App Store has already lost that battle. Second, past some number, say 10k apps, how much does it matter? There are enough. After that, it's just padded with low quality apps.

This is one possible move toward rebranding the App Store from "the biggest" to "the best," which is a title worth winning.