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Apple’s Phill Schiller On App Store Curation and Promotion For Developers

Apple’s Phill Schiller On App Store Curation and Promotion For Developers

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published yesterday, Apple’s Phill Schiller weighed in on App Store curation, promotion of third-party apps, and traditional retail selling space.

The opportunity is the best it has ever been for software developers,” Mr. Schiller said, adding that he thinks the app store is a far more democratic way to sell software than traditional retail stores with limited shelf space.

Mr. Schiller also pointed out that Apple promotes apps in multiple ways, such as popularity charts and featured app lists. “Every other day you hear about another app going off the charts,” he said. “You can still get discovered and get a hit overnight.

There’s no doubt Apple has done a “tremendous amount” (Schiller’s words) to help apps get discovered on the App Store. With the iPhone and the App Store, Apple created a new economy that, in the U.S. alone, has spurred the creation of over 200,000 jobs. But as I have outlined last month, the App Store of 2012 isn’t the same that launched in 2008 to 900 apps: there are over 650,000 apps on the App Store today, and while Apple has done a lot for developers, it could optimize the layout of the Store to do more and better. I wrote:

Custom sections provide a decent solution to browse titles Apple has previously “curated”; however, these sections aren’t usually updated as often as they are created — N.O.V.A. 3, a new shooter game by Gameloft, still isn’t listed under Benchmark Games: Stunning Graphics, whilst the majority of reviewers and publications have outlined the game’s remarkable graphic capabilities.

The IconFactory’s Craig Hockenberry also noted how Apple could bring its “personal touch” to the App Store to showcase great software with different methods than simple Top Charts, or “curated lists” that are often abandoned and never updated.

Instead of fighting for a short-term placement in the Top 100 lists, we’d fight for a long-term product review. Look at the amazing things developers do to earn an ADA and imagine if that happened once a week. Earning that “Apple approval” could ensure a product’s success for a long time. Which would be great for both customers and developers alike.

Hopefully Apple is thinking about this stuff. Earlier this year they acquired app recommendation service Chomp, and they revamped their “App of the Week” section with a new “Editor’s Choice” tag. The redesigned App Stores of iOS 6 come with Facebook integration and improved layout for descriptions and screenshots, something developers have been asking for. It’s too early to tell, but it seems like the iOS 6 App Store is on track to deliver great improvements for navigation and user interaction this Fall; to improve discoverability and promotion, however, Apple should also consider tweaking longstanding minor, yet important aspects such as filters, search, and Category sorting options.

Read the full interview with Schiller (who also confirms a new tracking tool for developers being discussed at WWDC sessions) here.