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Ask HN: solving mobile app discoverability - a major opportunity?
7 points by hoodoof 1685 days ago | hide | past | web | 4 comments | favorite
Mobile app discoverability is a major problem - application developers find it hard to become visible to end consumers. This leads to problems where a small number of more visible publishers get the lions share of the revenue http://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2012/12/06/top-25-developers-receive-half-of-app-store-revenue/

Is there a major opportunity in solving this problem?

Put another way, are we at AltaVista level of search engine for apps, but no one has yet come up with the Google of mobile app discoverability?

Have read that every community, be it foodies, or science fiction fans, or horror film buffs, has two components- the casual, who tend to have a very low depth of awareness about the content of the field and make up the majority of the people involved in it, and the hardcore- who've seen everything, can tell you all about it, and make a tiny minority of the community.

It's these hardcore users that form the gatekeepers to the mainstream- not only will they be the first to try products, but they will also be far more harsh and negative to mediocre products than a typical user would be. (It's kinda comforting that the people who know everything about something I get excited about aren't keeping the best stuff to themselves and leaving me with the dregs, but rather the reverse). What these gatekeepers look for isn't usually all that different from what casual users look for- quality is quality.

The winner-take-all distribution can be really daunting, but when you consider how long each of these apps on top have been in existence at all (maybe a few years for most), then you realize that it's not so much luck that makes these top apps so much more successful than average, but that their content is just that much better from a market perspective.

The lesson here is, make a good enough product (something the market REALLY wants even if no one realizes it yet), and the market will promote you naturally. Some sort of "ASEO", if it's even possible, won't make a fart app into #3 on the app store.

I think the fundamental question you have to ask isn't whether app developers find it hard to be visible to consumer, but rather are consumers finding it hard to discover apps that they want ?

What apps do you love using now that were hard to discover ? - if there aren't any then maybe the market for app discovery doesn't exist.

It depends on the platform. For instance, Apple policies don't make this business attractive because it brings lots of limitations. But with Android I don't see why you couldn't improve this space. I know some companies that are doing research in this field, trying to tie geolocation and ML with app reviews and recommendations.

Another idea that comes to my mind (haven't seen this yet) is to set up some sort of monthly payment subscription that would get bundles of apps at a much lower price. If I was a mobile developer with an app with few downloads but potentially good, I would sell my app at a wholesale quantity for much a lower price in order to gain exposure.

There's definitely a lot of room for improvement in this market. If you've been keeping up with current mobile statistics (which you obviously have), you'd consistently be seeing how the app markets are shifted way off to one small corner. I'm positive that solid product design and build are huge factors, but there are apps out there that don't get enough credit they deserve. Unfortunately, I feel that this problem relates to the world in general as well. Not everyone who is doing interesting and disruptive things will get all of the attention that they deserve.

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