Apple changes the way it handles AppStore updates, freaks out developers

Yesterday, a few of my updates to my existing applications were approved by Apple. I was excited to see the approval and made some changes to the date in iTunes Connect so that they show up in iTunes under their respective categories. To my surprise, they didn’t show up in iTunes. I gave it a day to see if it helps. Nope. Apple changed the way it handle updates and this is BIG blow to the iPhone developers.

Changed Behavior for Application Updates:

Previously when a developer updates an application, the updated app used to show up in the main category page in iTunes. This meant better visibility to the updated application which resulted in good spike in sales whenever an update is rolled out. These spikes in sales during the updates was the key motivation for developers to keep pushing out updates and to keep improving the apps.

With this new ‘upgrade’, newly updated applications don’t show up in iTunes category page. This means, when a developer updates an application, the update will be pushed directly to existing users and that’s pretty much it. There is no way for new users to know about those newly added features/improvements. Apple killed the key motivation for developers to improve apps, which I think is a BIG mistake.

When developers don’t have any motivation to improve existing apps, the quality of existing apps will suffer. Also, because new apps get good real-estate in AppStore, developers will focus on creating new apps rather than improving existing ones.

But, seriously, do we need more apps in AppStore? It currently has over 100K apps. Isn’t it time to focus on quality, rather than quantity? I talked about this earlier. Unfortunately, with this new move, AppStore will officially turn into a CrapStore very soon.

Developers Feedback?

As you can expect, iPhone developers are pissed. There are many threads in iPhone Dev Forums expressing concern on this new move. Here are few comments from developers.

All 99,000+ apps that are not on the top lists are now poo.

Way to go, Apple!

I agree…if updated apps are no longer listed under release date then this has to be the saddest day for the app store developer community.

If the whole thing is not just a temporary bug, I will stop iPhone development and go to Android and Symbian! For real!

There are lot more and we will see more developers yelling at Apple once they start noticing this change.

Not all is Negative

This is not all bad news for all developers. New applications will get better attention. Previously, new apps were hidden among a series of updates of existing apps. This will change now.

If Apple continues to keep this change, my guess is, apps in the Top 100 lists will prosper while all others apps will go down the drain.

What do you think? Do you think this is good/bad?

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12 comments so far

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ben Grubb, touchmeme. touchmeme said: Apple’s changes the way it handles AppStore updates, freaks out developers http://bit.ly/1Uc97 […]

  2. Galley on

    I understand your point, but back in the Palm days, developers used to submit fake updates to remain in the updated app list on PalmGear.com.

  3. Jesse Armand on

    I don’t know if this is a glitch in the App Store or not.

    From my experience, I always update the availability date everyday. The last time I updated my app, I updated the date in the day before it was about to be released.

    So, in this case, my app appeared on the release date list. But, recently I changed something in my app, and I’m a bit worried about why it’s not reflected in the App Store for several hours.

    Then, I changed the availability date to current date. It works, my app information is updated. Today, after I read your post, I noticed that my app was gone from the list.

    It maybe because I updated the availability date to recent date.

  4. Ssimkins on

    It seems that every time that Apple makes some kind of change in anything, there is backlash from one group or another. It seems instead, that if you are a developer with some integrity and with your consumers in mind you wouldn’t just be pushing out new mediocre apps just to get onto the new release list.

    If it is a good product, and there are some minor improvements to be made, than you should continue to make them. In turn this makes your customer base happy and they will continue to talk up your apps and in turn make you more money.

    We need to rely on our own business savvy rather than blame Apple for our own faults. Good business practices will make you successful, with or without Apples help.

    I am not a developer, but an outsider looking in. If I am off base, I apologize and would love to here a rebuttal.

  5. Krishna on

    @Galley I understand your point. Even on AppStore, we used to see many developers submit dummy updates to show up in the AppStore. Based on my observation, it started to change as the approval process took time. Previously apps were approved in 2-3 days. Now, if your app is approved in 3 weeks, you are considered lucky. This painful approval process took care of those ‘dummy’ updates.

  6. Jesse Armand on

    I personally think that it’s not wrong for Apple to do this. Technically, “new” and “updated” apps are separate thing.

    Though, a better solution to this is to create a separate section in the App Store for new and updated apps sorted by release date.

    People keep on pushing dummy updates is wrong, but so is people keep on pushing new crap apps. So it’s quite the same thing.

  7. Krishna on

    Jesse,

    I agree. There has to be separate sections for new apps as well as updated apps. Choosing one over the other impacts users/developers.

    The challenge for AppStore currently is to figure out a way to

    1) Elevate visibility for good apps,
    2) Reward developers improving existing apps and
    3) Provide good exposure for new apps.

    If all of these are taken care, I don’t see any issue with the current move. But this move gives preference for 3 than 2 which will result in crappy new apps and no improvements to existing apps. Apple shouldn’t choose one or the other. They have to offer both.

    With over 100K apps, everyone is fighting for attention. Given the limited real-estate on iTunes, Apple has to figure out the right balance.

  8. MattjDrake on

    I for one am relieve at this development. The numbers of new apps and releases was making the sales spike go down further each time after an update anyway. Now that we have in app purchases and more ways to cross promote I think we have better options to monetize our apps.

    After all, the update spike was always a hack and the idea of updates apps getting to the top of the list was unexpected behavior. I much much much rather have my new apps get more attention for a longer period.

    • Krishna on

      Matt,

      I don’t expect new apps to get better attention now. We will see flurry of new apps appear each differentiating slightly from others. I assume you don’t have an app in Travel category. If you have, you’ll know what I am talking about. There are developers who do an app for every city. I mean, an app for EVERY CITY. So imagine what kind of exposure your new app will get in this model.

      I am not totally against this update. I think Apple should address all the three scenarios I mentioned in my previous comment.

  9. Top Posts « WordPress.com on

    […] Apple changes the way it handles AppStore updates, freaks out developers Yesterday, a few of my updates to my existing applications were approved by Apple. I was excited to see the approval […] […]

  10. Sergei Shablovsky on

    I still thinking that are no any sense to increasing AppStore catalog structure espesially for updates.

    I still agree with Krishna and Ssimkins that now is time to clean AppStore from “0.99” apps and “developer for weekend”. I try to explain this: students and non-serious freelancers are not producing any really great apps that keep iPhone on top of consumer satisfaction or push it up to the business sector of consumers.

    Only small serious group of professionals, small companies, not huge mastodons are key interest for Apple. Only this mobile and flexible “genius of coding” really produce something exciting.

    For the rest may be Android are greater…. 🙂 Sorry for strong talk. However I think that “update issue” are great and healthiness for the iPhone developer’s community on that time.

    p.s. Sorry for my Eng. is not well. 🙂


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