Progressive Web Apps -- web apps that are installable and available offline without any app store -- are a viable alternative, and ultimately a threat to Apple's app store racket. It's likely why iOS Safari continues to drag it's feet on PWA support.
Honestly, no, they're not. Even the Gold Standard of PWAs - the Twitter Lite app that Google (the patron saint of PWAs) helped them build - provides an inferior experience compared to native apps.
People bring this up often - Apple refuses to improve Safari to bolster their App Store - which completely ignores all the valuable improvements Safari has made to give web apps more native-like features, like backdrop-blur for blurred backgrounds and CSS Snap points for native JS-less carousels. Chrome doesn't support either of these.
And despite it adding certain CSS standards, mobile Safari on the whole remains the IE6 of the mobile browser world. Apple drags its feet on web app standards support for a reason similar to why Microsoft dragged its feet with IE6 web standards support.
Something mimicking today's stores would essentially be links you can rate and comment on. Kind of like Reddit, but with a different UI and no direct user submissions.
Yeah. You could technically still kick them off the store for the sake of maintaining trust— like a forum.
> Things like Reddit style voting can be gamed, just like app store search and reviews are today. Whoever has the most resources wins, not necessarily who has the best product.
Wait, isn't this like current App Store ratings though? I wouldn't be worried about this. It is already the case that many people invest a lot of resources in trying to game the App Store. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If your app can be distributed as a PWA, then the question becomes: is the App Store (which gives you discoverability) worth the 30% revenue cut? For some PWAs the answer will be no.
Note I work for Google but have no knowledge of Googles PWA products or PWA roadmap